Raleigh City Council reviews Oakwood modernist house kerfuffle

ccampbell@newsobserver.comMarch 18, 2014 

Architect Louis Cherry will be forced to stop construction on his controversial modernist home in the Oakwood neighborhood – five months after the city issued his building permit.

JULI LEONARD — jleonard@newsobserver.com

The Raleigh City Council went behind closed doors Tuesday to discuss a controversial modernist house in the historic Oakwood neighborhood, but they took no formal action.

City leaders are debating whether to appeal the Board of Adjustment’s recent decision to revoke approvals for the home on Euclid Street. Either the city or the house’s owner, architect Louis Cherry, must appeal to Wake County Superior Court or the nearly complete building will have to be torn down.

After the meeting, Mayor Nancy McFarlane said she couldn’t provide details of the discussion but said she’s awaiting more information before the council decides whether to appeal. “Clearly this is a difficult situation,” she said. “It is a long process.”

Opponents of the house say the design is inappropriate in a historic district, and they don’t want public funds spent to defend a single property. But some historic preservationists have called on city leaders to lead the appeal, saying that allowing the Board of Adjustment ruling to stand would gut the power of city historic commissions, which are charged with determining whether new construction is appropriate for a historic district like Oakwood.

Also Tuesday, the group N.C. Modernist Houses says it’s starting a fund to help defend Cherry’s property and other “modernist houses under threat.” Supporters of the fund include N.C. Museum of Art director Larry Wheeler, Preservation North Carolina head Myrick Howard and restaurateur Ashley Christensen, according to a news release. The group declined to offer more details ahead of a news conference planned for Friday.

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