Modern House in Historic Oakwood Controversy Inspires the NCMH Legal Defense Fund


To provide funding for legal representation and other services to the Cherry/Gordon house and other Modernist houses under attack.

March 24, 2014 (Raleigh, NC) — Raleigh residents Louis Cherry and Marsha Gordon received all the required city approvals and permits for their new home in the Oakwood Historic District, so they began construction. Yet when the house was 85 percent complete, an Oakwood resident approached the Raleigh Board of Adjustment, claiming the Cherry/Gordon house is too Modern for the downtown neighborhood. Suddenly construction was stopped and the homeowners’ permits were revoked.

Regarding this move as “an egregious miscarriage of justice and fairness,” the non-profit organization North Carolina Modernist Houses has formed the NCMH Legal Defense Fund (LDF) to provide technical assistance, funding for legal representation, and other support services to endangered Modernist houses throughout North Carolina – starting with the Cherry/Gordon house in Oakwood.

Contributors to the LDF who donate at least $100 will be invited to a kick-off fundraiser on April 13 in the Modernist home of attorney Mack Paul beginning at 4 p.m. For details:

“As we all know, pursuing legal channels is a critical but expensive investment,” said NCMH board chair George Smart. “From preserving historically significant Modernist houses to standing for due process for new Modernist houses under threat, the LDF is now actively advocating for North Carolina’s great legacy of Modernist residential architecture, such as the Cherry/Gordon house, by making sure legal expenses and technical issues do not stand in the way.”

Smart is by no means alone in this initial effort. The NCMH LDF’s founding Host Committee – members of which have made significant monetary donations – include such local luminaries as Larry Wheeler, Director, NC Museum of Art and a former Oakwood resident; Myrick Howard, executive director, Preservation North Carolina; James Goodnight, Jr., SAS Institute; Ashley Christensen, Ashley Christensen Restaurants; Frank Harmon, FAIA, Frank Harmon Architect PA; Scott Cutler, Clancy & Theys Construction; Bernie Reeves, Metro Magazine; and Greg Paul, Greg Paul Builders, among many others.

At least 10 current Oakwood residents have joined the effort so far, including Barbara Wishy, a pioneer in the restoration of the Oakwood district in the 1970s and a homeowner there for over three decades. Wishy has renovated and sold several historic properties in Oakwood. (The complete list of Host Committee members is available at

“We can’t allow the Board of Adjustment to essentially give neighbors the power of condemnation,” Smart said.

On Thursday, March 20, the Raleigh City Council announced its decision to appeal the BOA’s decision to Superior Court

For more information on the NCMH Legal Defense Fund:



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