Historic downtown Greenville home faces demolition - FOX Carolina 21

Historic downtown Greenville home faces demolition

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The Victorian-style Cureton house is located at 133 Augusta St. (File/FOX Carolina) The Victorian-style Cureton house is located at 133 Augusta St. (File/FOX Carolina)

Take a walk down Main Street Greenville and you'll instantly hit the intersection of old and new.

Factories and storefronts dating back to the 1800s - still standing, re-purposed, refreshed.

But sitting at the crossroads of old and new, sits an iconic residential home in Greenville's West End District. Snuggled between Smiley's Acoustic cafe and the South Carolina Children's Theater sits 133 Augusta Street, a large Victorian-style home that has stood since the 1880s and is known as the Cureton House.

"The Cureton House is actually one of the best examples of Queen Anne architecture that still survives in the Upstate," according to Robert Benedict, Director of the Master's Development Program at Clemson University.

The Curetons, a prominent Greenville family, has owned the house since 1910 and continued to live in it right up until the last living family member, Josephine Cureton, passed in 2010.

Cureton, who lost her brother Peter F. Cureton Jr., in World War II never married and never had any children. So now the house faces an uncertain future. According to Cureton's will, the land on which the house sits is to be given to the South Carolina Children's Theater - but with one catch.

"She came to me and asked me, did I feel we could build a home on her property and of course needless to say we were thrilled, "said Debbie Bell, Director of the South Carolina's Children's Theater. "But she had a caveat, in that would we be willing to demolish the home and every piece of it."

Bell, whose theater is right next door to the home became a friend of Cureton and describes her as a very private person, who even after her death, did not want anyone entering the home. She said she is trying to honor her friend's wishes.

But should the Children's Theater not need the property, the property would be donated to the city. This has many in Greenville protesting the demolition.

"It makes me sick," local historian and preservationist, Judy Bainbridge said. "This is an important house that speaks to Greenville history."

Bainbridge also claims the structure was once the place where Greenville's first public school in 1885, held its advanced classes.

Benedict, who has experience renovating and re-purposing historic buildings around the Upstate agrees and feels there is a strong case to preserve the Cureton home.

"With that type of style it would make a fantastic office building, a bed and breakfast, or the other thing you could consider with that is being eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places," Benedict said.

But as its stands today, the house belongs to Cureton's trust, which is managed by Wells Fargo. Wells Fargo is asking the city for permission to tear the house down.

Should the city allow the trust to demolish the house, the South Carolina Children's Theater would build a permanent home on the property; a home Bell said they've been waiting a long time for. Bell said they would name the new theater after Peter F. Cureton Jr., and it's a decision Cureton felt would have made her parents proud.

Bainbridge and Benedict, said they are both supporters of The Children's Theater, but would nonetheless feel as if a significant piece of Greenville history would be destroyed in order to build anew.  

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