When local architect Lucia Zapata Griffith saw the sign advertising two historic Dilworth houses that needed to be preserved, she had to investigate.
A veteran of the reclamation process, Griffith found what would scare most people away. Asbestos-covered walls. Rotted wood. Crumbling mortar. Even a mummified cat in a crawl space.
Griffith and her husband, Mike, though, saw something greater.
“It's seeing the big picture and making it happen,” Griffith said. “A lot of people run from that. For me, it's, ‘Let's see what we can do with this.'”
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After residents of Dilworth last year raised more than $42,000 to help encourage Preservation North Carolina to buy and save the houses at 329 E. Worthington and 1818 Euclid avenues, the nonprofit PNC found willing buyers this year in the Griffiths.
PNC works to preserve and find buyers for historical properties. Buyers before the purchase often present their plan for a property and agree to a deed that ensures that they won't raze or drastically alter the property, said PNC's southwest regional director Ted Alexander. Buyers get tax credits for any money spent on property rehab.
The Griffiths plan to move into the East Worthington home – built in 1900 – and use the Euclid home – built in 1915 – for an office. Construction on both began within the last month.
Lucia Griffith said they plan on saving much of the original wood and bricks from the porch, as well as the original windows in the Worthington house. Because of the experience gained on a number of restoration projects they've completed – including one she did on a 120-year-old home in her native Peru – they expect to finish within six months.