New president for the College Hill Neighborhood Association; longtime president James Keith leaving as business expands

painted wooden fence

This brightly painted fence on Edgar Street was one of the first improvements made by Samantha Smith and Joshua Stewart after they bought their Tate Street home.

Samantha Smith has been elected president of the College Hill Neighborhood Association, succeeding James Keith. James stepped down in December as he was selling his house on South Mendenhall Street. The association board voted unanimously to name Samantha president.

Samantha Smith

Samantha is director of community engagement and digital learning at Old Salem. She and her husband, Joshua Stewart, live on Tate Street. Her parents, Daniel Smith and Rosemarie DiGiorgio, live on Walker Avenue in College Hill.

In addition to working at Old Salem, Samantha is the owner of Gate City Preservation LLC, a historic preservation consulting firm. She previously served as executive director of Historic Bethabara in Winston-Salem and as a park ranger at Guilford Courthouse National Military Park. Samantha graduated from N.C. State University with a bachelor’s degree in history and anthropology and a master’s in public/applied history. She also holds a post baccalaureate certificate in historic preservation from UNCG.

Samantha and her father perform folk music as Music Across the Water. The covers of the their albums feature art by Patti Pogodzinski, an illustrator and textile designer. Patti and her husband, Thomas Kilian, recently bought a house on Carr Street.

James Keith: Double Oaks and new opportunities

James and Amanda Keith

James and Amanda Keith sold their home at 303 S. Mendenhall Street in December. James told the neighborhood association last month that he and Amanda haven’t had much time to maintain a residence in College Hill while they expand their business. In addition to owning and operating Double Oaks Bed & Breakfast on North Mendenhall Street in Westerwood, they’re planning to restore a historic hotel in western North Carolina.

James has served as neighborhood association president since 2013. He has led several projects that have improved the quality of life in the neighborhood, including the Mendenhall Street redesign project, a continuing, multi-year effort to reduce the speed of traffic on the street; the addition of many badly needed streetlights throughout College Hill; and the development of the neighborhood’s long-range plan. He also led the neighborhood’s successful fight to preserve fire-damaged 919 Spring Garden Street, which involved partnering with the Preservation Greensboro Redevelopment Fund and the City of Greensboro. His efforts resulted in a change in the city’s Municipal Service District ordinance to allow use of the historic district’s MSD funds for preserving significant properties.

James and Amanda bought the Effie M. Anderson House at 303 S. Mendenhall Street in 2008. Their restoration of the house was honored with a preservation award from Preservation Greensboro. The Keiths also secured Historic Landmark Designation from Guilford County. The 1914 Colonial Revival home was designed by prominent Greensboro architect Harry Barton. James and Amanda accepted a full-price offer three days after listing the house for sale in October.

The Effie M. Anderson House, 303 S. Mendenhall Street

Posted in Carr Street, City Government, College Hill Neighborhood Association, Historic Preservation, Mendenhall Street, Spring Garden Street, Tate Street | 2 Comments

Following up on tropical-storm damage at 703 Walker Avenue: One apartment’s roof damaged by fallen tree, no one injured

tree down in front of brick apartments

The tree was identified as an elm with a trunk 39 inches in diameter in the 2013 inventory of trees in College Hill.

roof damaged by fallen tree

workers removing fallen tree

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Storm brings down large tree on Fulton Street at Walker

Tree down on Fulton at Walker

Thursday’s tropical storm brought down a tree in the front yard of the brick apartments on Fulton Street at Walker Avenue. (Photos by Liz Pinson)

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Vote for the school bonds and sales tax: Guilford’s schools desperately need to be modernized, safer and repaired

crumbling window frame at a guilford county school


Guilford County’s school buildings are literally falling apart.

“While the buildings and grounds look okay from the outside, the infrastructure inside the walls and core systems like windows, doors, roofs, plumbing, foundations and heating/cooling units have been stretched to the breaking point,” the school system says. “In fact, so many systems are so old that we can’t always get parts for repairs.”

The school system has identified facility needs totaling $2 billion. The first steps toward meeting those needs are on the ballot this fall — a $300 million school-bond proposal and a 1/4-cent local sales tax increase for school construction. The College Hill Neighborhood Association has endorsed both ballot proposals. Please vote yes on the bonds and the sales tax increase.

The money will start funding the Guilford County Schools Facilities Master Plan, which was released last year. The plan calls for:

  • Safety and technology upgrades for all schools,
  • Rebuilding 22 schools on existing sites,
  • Building seven new schools and expanding three more to alleviate overcrowding and accommodate enrollment growth,
  • Fully renovating 19 schools,
  • Major repairs for 56 schools and
  • Eliminating all mobile classrooms, some of which date to the 1970s. GCS has more than 500 mobile or temporary classrooms.

In addition, the report found that 13 school buildings and 11 administrative facilities are in such bad shape they should simply be closed.

“This plan doesn’t recommend patching aging facilities that have been deteriorating for decades,” GCS Superintendent Sharon L. Contreras has said. That’s how the system has coped in the past. That’s why we now need $2 billion to fix our school buildings.

Most of us in College Hill don’t have children in school. But every one of us needs our schools to do the best job possible of preparing our community’s young people for their adult lives. We’ll be depending on them in the future. We need to fix our school buildings now.

Our schools haven’t received bond funding for 12 years. Neither measure on the ballot would impose a difficult expense on any of us. For the slight amount of money that each of us will pay, the results will be huge. And not supporting our schools would send our county further down the path taken by Alabama, Mississippi and other places that think their poverty, moribund local economies and bottom-of-every-ranking schools are all just a big coincidence.

We aren’t fools. Let’s not vote like we are. Support our schools at the polls. Vote for the school bonds and sales tax increase.

Posted in College Hill Neighborhood Association | Leave a comment

UNCG classes start Tuesday with COVID-dictated changes

3 gardeners stand at the "UNCG Gardens" sign on McIver Street

Click here to read about activity at the UNCG Gardens on McIver Street during the pandemic.

UNCG’s fall-semester classes will begin Tuesday, as originally planned. The rest of the semester, though, has been changed dramatically. Among the highlights:

  • Fall Break and Reading Day will be eliminated. Classes will end before Thanksgiving.
  • Most final exams will be online.
  • Almost 900 sections originally scheduled as face-to-face will be held online. More than 1,250 sections will adopt a hybrid format. Some students’ classroom time will be reduced up to two-thirds.
  • All students, faculty members and staff must wear face coverings indoors on campus, including in classrooms, libraries, auditoriums, and meeting spaces.
  • Face coverings are required outdoors when appropriate social distancing cannot be maintained.
  • Some campus events will be changed for social distancing and using technology to connect people, including Homecoming.

Click here for more information on the UNCG website.

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923 Carr Street is sold to neighbors after home’s demolition

the empty ot at 923 Carr Street

The aftermath of the May 13 fire at 923 Carr Street has played out to its end, for now at least. The remains of the house have been demolished and the wreckage hauled away. The site has been leveled and seeded, as the Historic Preservation Commission ordered. Damage to 925 Carr Street has been repaired almost fully; the roof has been replaced and the new siding apparently just needs to be painted. The lot has been sold. Eventually a new house will be built, but the owners are in no hurry.

The sale of the property closed Monday. The buyers are Alexa Barwick and Eric Snavely, who live next door at 925 Carr Street. The lot is tiny, just 0.11 acre. Similarly small lots have been built upon recently in College Hill, so there’s no doubt that a new house can be built, despite problematic setback requirements that came into effect many decades after the original house was built.


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The Spartan Open Pantry needs your donation now to provide food to struggling UNCG and Greensboro College students

With the fall semester about to begin, college students are facing the same challenges as the rest of us in these difficult times. But many must do so without a steady income or financial support from their families. The Spartan Open Pantry helps UNCG and Greensboro College students avoid — or overcome — hunger. A joint project of the Wesley-Luther Campus Ministry and the UNCG Dean of Students Office, the pantry provides non-perishable food to students at the two institutions  who are facing food insecurity (and to UNCG staff who are struggling as well). Please join the College Hill Neighborhood Association in supporting the SOP now.

Click here to learn more or here to make a financial donation.

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Morehead Park bridge on Spring Garden to get a new mural; Downtown Greenway seeks artists to create a replacement

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923 Carr Street, built in 1910 and burned in 2020, is demolished

1 p.m.: Arrival

1:30 p.m.: The Beast waits.

3 p.m.: Demolition begins.

3:30 p.m.: Pause. The Beast is thirsty.

5 p.m.: The first dump truck is deftly loaded.

5:10 p.m.: The west side of 921 Carr Street, also built in 1910, gets some afternoon sun for the first time in 110 years.

6:20 p.m.: After another dump truck has been loaded and the final rooms knocked down, the day is done.

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City allows demolition of fire-damaged 923 Carr Street; property owner expects it to happen within two to three weeks

The three chimneys at 923 Carr Street are a particular concern of neighbors.

The Historic Preservation Commission has approved a request for permission to demolish 923 Carr Street, the College Hill home severely damaged in a fire last month. The College Hill Neighborhood Association supported the request. Neighbors cited the house’s three chimneys, now unsupported by a roof, as a particular hazard.

The house was was built in 1910. It was a significant structure in the neighborhood, even though it was increasingly an eyesore after many years as a rental property. “Its removal will leave a gap in an otherwise intact block of historic houses that are unique in Greensboro because of their close spacing, short setback from the street and architectural rhythm,” the historic preservation staff said in its recommendation to approve the demolition. Two houses on that side of the block have been extensively renovated in the past two years; another is being renovated now.

923 Carr burned early in the morning of May 13. The family that was renting the house all managed to get out unharmed. The house lost its entire roof in the fire; more than 11 inches of rain have fallen since May 13, compounding the damage. The fire badly damaged back of the house as well. The Greensboro Fire Department responded quickly and was able to minimize damage to the very close houses on either side.

Property owner Andy Clark told the commission the house is too badly damaged to repair. He agreed to let Architectural Salvage of Greensboro see whether porch columns and other materials could be saved but expressed doubt about whether the structure is stable enough for them to work in it safely.

Under state law, the commission’s only options were to approve the request to demolish the house or to approve it with a delay of up to 365 days. The city will issue a certificate of appropriateness for the demolition with five conditions:

  • That Architectural Salvage be allowed to see whether materials can be salvaged safely.
  • That the site be graded and seeded with grass within 30 days of demolition and the property be maintained on a regular basis.
  • That the house be photographically documented.
  • That trees and mature shrubbery be protected during the demolition and a plan to that effect be submitted before demolition.
  • That a certificate of appropriateness be obtained along with other necessary permits for redevelopment of the site.

Clark said he expects preliminary work, such as testing for asbestos and cutting off the property’s gas line, to get under way soon. He said the house could be demolished within two or three weeks. Afterward, he plans to sell the property, he said.

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