FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) – Fayetteville leaders voted Wednesday not to demolish the Market House but did decide it will change in some way.
The building has been in the center of town for nearly 200 years. It has recently faced growing calls from some in the community to tear it down because of its controversial past.
The Market House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It once served as a town hall and marketplace, but also a place where slaves were sold.
“Some citizens want it demolished. Some citizens would like to see nothing done,” Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin said.
The topic has been one of the biggest issues facing city leaders since protests happened last year.
Colvin would like to have the Market House moved from the center of the city to a different location.
“I think relocating it preserves the historical aspects of the architecture, and it address the concerns of the people who don’t want to see it every day,” Colvin said. “You don’t want to have that front and center; everyone is not comfortable with that and we’ve invested tens of millions of dollars in the downtown area that should be welcoming to everybody.”
“Where could you put it that won’t cause even more tension to the people in the City of Fayetteville,” asked community activist Myah Warren.
Warren wants the building torn down and replaced with something that benefits children and brings in tourists.
“I can feel the passion, I can feel the emotion, I can feel everything that my ancestors and their ancestors dealt with at that particular Market House,” Warren said. “I feel as if it’s a constant reminder every day that racism does live today in America.”
City Council member Johnny Dawkins would like the Market House left where it is, but turned into an African American museum.
“I tend to want to preserve history even though this particular building is painful to so many people,” Dawkins said.
Dawkins said he would support moving the building to another historical site if a Civil War history center is built in Fayetteville — something that has been talked about for years.
Regardless, Dawkins said all voices need to be heard on the matter.
“Fayetteville is a melting pot,” Dawkins said. “We have to be a model for our country.”
Colvin said the city will be getting public input before making a final decision on what to do with the Market House. He plans to meet with members of the Justice Department on Feb. 5 to get more insight into how to best engage the community.
“They’ve dealt with difficult situations in other places,” Colvin said.
City leaders also discussed the possibility of putting up another temporary mural for Black History Month, or the possibility of creating a permanent one.