Friday, February 18, 2011

Standoff in South Carolina

A situation has developed in Charleston, South Carolina, involving a property at 108M Smith St. The story begins on New Year's Eve. Olivia Saylor, 21, had met up with friends, but, tired and feeling unwell, she went home and to bed early. At 4:35am the next morning, a raging housefire broke out, choking Saylor
to death with its smoke, killing 3 of her 4 pets, and burning 2 responding firefighters. The young woman is remembered fondly by her friends and mourned deeply by her father, Atlanta businessman Paul Saylor (1st image), who wants to tear down what remains of the house and create a walled garden in its place. But his plan has been nixed by the city's Board of Architectural Review, which voted 5-2 that the 19th century home - now scarred with soot, missing most of its windows and boarded up with plywood - should be preserved. The city architect recommended demolition, partly because the most historic parts of the structure, the framing and roof trusses, cannot be seen, and much of the rest of the house (foundation, windows, doors, and other details) was replaced in a renovation 25 years earlier. But a structural engineer gave it a high ranking, and the Preservation Society maintains, "Throughout its history, Charleston has always rebuilt after tragedy." The neighbors are split, with some supportive of the plan for a landscaped garden and others likening razing the house to removing a tooth in a smile. The local residents - like his prematurely deceased daughter - are in Mr. Saylor's thoughts: "What [the Board] didn't focus on is they can't force me to rebuild. What I feel sorry for are the other neighbors that will have to look at it. It's not fair to them....My daughter loved Charleston. My daughter loved her neighborhood. My daughter loved her house. The best thing I could do for that memory is to do something that would not offend her if she were alive....I think she'd find it comforting to know if she can't live here, no one else can either."

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