May 16, 2011 10:37:00 AM
In the pre-dawn hours of Wednesday May 10th, stealthily taking place at 317 Seventh Street N. was destruction and demolition of a National Register Victorian gem, Friendship House. By 10 a.m. the grand old lady was no more than a heap of rubble, all to the tune of $9,400 paid for by First Baptist officials for demolition. Their demolition permit was still good for another four months, yet they chose to finish her off that day. The despicable deed was done. Columbus was once again robbed of a historical structure.
Their plea of not having funds to repair Friendship House after six years of willful neglect is a joke. Had FBC officials recognized the fact that it was indeed a National Register House they could have received 25% in state funding and 20% in federal funding to bring her back in good condition, all at a cost of 55% paid by them. Even on the day of demolition FBC officials ignorantly denied it to be the National Register entity that it was.
Ken P''Poole of Ms. Archive & History in Jackson, as well as Ms. Heritage Trust, both called Dr. Parker and informed him of that. Furthermore, a short walk to Columbus Public Library''s state of the art Columbus Archives & History could have been verified by the professional archivist, Ms. Mona Vance.
Any potential buyers could also have received this same federal & state funding. All six offers by Burnette Avakian, a recent widow, were ignored after being told several times to resubmit offers, hers being $35,000. Her plans for the home included a bed & breakfast, bridal luncheons, church groups, garden clubs, etc. all in a wonderful setting of 20 X 20 rooms, 13 foot ceilings, floor to ceiling windows and heart pine floors, nothing of which was salvaged from the demolished house.
My own offer of $35,000 was not addressed for three weeks until I called about it. It was eventually refused in a letter. I asked Dr. Parker to return with a purchase price to me. He never did. I asked Mr. Thomas Southerland on the day of demolition if he would have accepted $50,000 - answer "No!"
Their indifference to selling this property was a mockery of the three For Sale signs in the windows of Friendship House, later removed when shown on TV. Many in FBC congregation wanted to sell this property and encouraged us to purchase.
Columbus takes pride in their historical homes and are custodians of history that we share with our visitors at pilgrimage and other times of the year. It brings tremendous revenue to our listed historical city. I doubt anyone will want to tour our ever-growing amount of parking lots.
Perhaps they will tour the $19 million Baptist church on the hill on Bluecutt Road. Any new owner of Friendship House would have been paying $1,600 annually in property taxes to city and county. FBC did not, as they are a non-profit entity. No taxes in 10 years of ownership would have paid for part of repairs. There the city loses again.
We need stronger ordinance rules for preservation in this enlightened age of preserving our past. Mr. Kenny Wiegel must have been wearing blinders if he did not see the blatant neglect of Friendship House for the past six years. Our city leaders must address this ordinance change as soon as possible to insure no other historical home is lost.
We, the supporters and most of the people of Columbus, deplore this malicious destruction and we are mourning this tremendous loss to Columbus.
Good-bye Friendship House.
bigmontana commented at 5/16/2011 1:00:00 PM:
There is no feasible reason why the church needed to destroy that house! I still don't understand why they wouldn'r sell the property with the home... I wish I had the property and the money, and I would have moved it when the opportunity existed!
zenreaper commented at 5/16/2011 1:23:00 PM:
Its interesting, many of the "religious" around here like to tell other people what they should or shouldn't do, based on THEIR belief structure. I really thought it was a Christian vs Non Christian thing. Apparently I was wrong, its just a Bossy vs Non Bossy thing. Guess what, you CAN'T always get what you want...but you usually get what you need.
melody commented at 5/16/2011 2:35:00 PM:
since rosco p coltrain was banned from this site he has now posting as zenreaper. changing one's handle doesn't change the style of one's writing--still just a lot of goofy stuff
zenreaper commented at 5/16/2011 8:15:00 PM:
Don't know the man, but I assure you Melody, I am not him. Of course, NOW you have to accept the possibility that you have pissed off TWO people.
sassy commented at 5/17/2011 12:33:00 AM:
One of the reasons that were given for building the new "mega church" is that the current one is too costly to keep up. I've been told that the stain glass windows will stay there because they are too costly to move to the new church. Many of the windows were given in honor of a family member who attended the church. Nice to know that it was ok to take the money or the donation of the window, but not worth it to the church to preserve the family's gift.
To keep up the Friendship house was cost prohibitive to the church they say. The similarities to the story of King Solomon and the baby come to mind. Only this time, the sword was swung and the baby was not spared.
It's all coming down to the money, isn't it?
firstname.lastname@example.org commented at 5/17/2011 9:23:00 AM:
Thanks Pat for your letter, I will miss Friendship House too. Thanks for what you and others tried to do......
blatch commented at 5/18/2011 8:47:00 AM:
While on the topic of demolition, shame and the lack thereof, shame or something stronger on Columbus' First Baptist Church for their demolition of the Friendship House in the early morning hours yesterday, for their smug bait-and-switch game in the months leading up to it, and for putting business decisions ahead of Christ's commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves. I don't have the energy to go into the whole nefarious story-if you don't know about it, you can read a good article in the Columbus Dispatch). I assume that Baptists will be segregated into their own suburb in heaven, where the mansions will be clad in Dryvet with hollow, metal white columned porticos and they can demolish it all on a whim or as a "good business move" if they want to. But if on the off chance I meet First Baptist's business administrator Thomas Southerland, I hope God will give me leave to punch his lights out.
1. Voice of the people: Denise Carolyn Walker LETTERS TO THE EDITOR (VOICE@CDISPATCH.COM)
3. Slimantics: More on the care and feeding of ghosts LOCAL COLUMNS
4. Froma Harrop: Yoga pants criticism goes viral NATIONAL COLUMNS
5. Leonard Pitts: America shaped by Emmett Till's death NATIONAL COLUMNS