Proposed Teardown to be Saved

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William Muse House, 2308 W. Club Blvd. (photo courtesy of Open Durham)

William Muse House, 2308 W. Club Blvd. (photo courtesy of Open Durham)

Last May we told you about the proposed demolition of the historic Williams-Muse House at 2308 West Club Boulevard.
The 1922 house is located in the middle of the Watts-Hillandale Historic District.  In 2014 the house was purchased by new owners who, after some reflection, decided that they wished to replace it rather than modify it to suit their needs.  Preservation Durham opposed the idea of tearing down a contributing house in the historic district.
In May, the Durham Historic Preservation Commission approved the demolition but delayed it for one year.  Under North Carolina law, this was the most the commission could do to prevent tearing down the house.
The new owners expected this result, but were genuinely surprised by the depth of community concern about their proposal to demolish the old house.  To their very great credit, they rethought their plans and met with Jay Munro and David Parker, preservation contractors in Durham with a considerable record of success.  After consultation with Jay, David, and Chapel Hill architect Ron Wilde, the new owners came up with a design that saves the old house and adds on to it.
2308 W. Club Blvd - rendering of proposed addition

2308 W. Club Blvd – rendering of proposed addition

The design is better than anything we might reasonably have expected.  Under the owners’ new plan, the entire structure of the old house is saved.  The addition does not over-power the older part and is complementary to the original house in style and proportions.  The owners even propose to save the original, matching, Model-T-sized garage, if they can.
The new design went before the Historic Preservation Commission at its meeting on December 1.  Click here to view the full application, including floor plans and elevations.
Given the fact that the house was under a death sentence, preservationists were prepared to support any plan that saved some part of the fabric or feel of the old house.  The new plan does way more than that.  It saves the whole house.  The Commission was quick to approve the plan and members heaped their thanks on the owners and their design and build team.  The modified house will be an asset to the historic district.