Community group forms to save Wilkins House


February 07, 2014

GREENVILLE, S.C. – A group of community members have banded together to save a piece of Greenville history from the wrecking ball this spring.

The “The Save The Wilkins House Initiative” has a goal of raising $360,000 by the end of March in order to save the historic Augusta Road structure, move it to a new location and set up easements that keep the two-story Italianate-style home from ever being demolished.

The short deadline is necessary because of a time crunch the building faces, said Kelly Odom, the chairman of the Save The Wilkins House Initiative. The four acres the Wilkins House is located on is being sold and will be redeveloped by new owners.

“It is clear that the Wilkins House cannot stay where it is,” Odom said.

However, local residents have banded together and with the aid of the Palmetto Trust for Historic Preservation and have come up with a plan to save the home, which dates back to 1876, Odom said.

“Greenville has lost too much of its history in the past 30 years,” Odom said. “This is our community’s chance to keep Greenville historic.”

The proposal is to move the 1,000-ton house off of its current location to a nearby site in the Augusta Road community. The commission is working with a local developer, Neil Wilson of Reality Link, on finding the best site, said Mike Bedenbaugh, executive director of the Palmetto Trust.

The entire cost of preparing the house for the move, actual moving and then restoration is roughly $760,000, but almost half has been pledged  has been pledged, Bedenbaugh said. Part of the pledge is an easement to keep the house from not being moved again.

That leaves a $360,000 gap that has to be made up, Bedenbaugh said. The Initiative members and the Palmetto Trust already are seeking donors as well as applying for a national grant to help move and save the Wilkins House.

“This is a call to the Greenville community to save this building,” he said.

The house’s is located at 1004 Augusta Street, and was built for William T. Wilkins, a merchant who made his fortune in New York before coming to Greenville and marrying a local woman, Harriet Cleveland. The house was constructed by local contractor Jacob Cagle.

The effort has drawn a lot of interest and support from the community. More than 500 people have liked its Facebook page and more than 800 signed a recent petition to save the home from demolition.

“Our message is clear,” Odom said. “If you want to help save a piece of Greenville history, this is the time to do it.”

For more information on the Save The Wilkins House Initiative or to donate money to the cause, go to palmettotrust.org/savethewilkinshouse or learn more at the SaveTheWilkinsHouse Facebook page.

About the Palmetto Trust

The Palmetto Trust for Historic Preservation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and protecting the endangered historic places of South Carolina through preservation development, advocacy, education and networking. The Palmetto Trust is the state's only statewide membership organization committed exclusively to preservation.



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