Historic home place in Matthews set for demolition - | WBTV Charlotte

Historic home place in Matthews set for demolition

By Sharon Smith - bio l email

MATTHEWS, NC (WBTV) - The Dutch Colonial on West John Street in Matthews has been a local landmark since the 1920s. It will soon be torn down, according the homeowner's will.

"I think everyone's emotional about it. It will be a loss to the community," said neighbor Judy Fidler, who lives two houses down.

Franklin Renfrow lived in the home his father built his whole life. His family left their mark on Matthews, most notably with the popular hardware store in downtown.

Related: Read Franklin Renfrow's will (pdf file)

When Renfrow died in December, he gave part of his fortune to local churches, Davidson College, and split the rest among family, friends and employees. He was an only child who never married.

Long-time family friend David Blackley, who also owns Renfrow Hardware now, was left the homeplace property and commercial real estate around town.

He said Franklin Renfrow was a very private man, who made the decision long ago to have the home demolished. It was also the wish of Renfrow's parents.

Blackley said it's possible the land will be maintained as a park in the short-term. Another home may be built there someday.

Renfrow's attorney said the home must be demolished within 180 days of the will's execution.

Dr. Dan Morrill with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission said it's possible to save the home through eminent domain. However, the town board would have to support a move in that direction, which seems unlikely.

Morrill said he's never heard of anyone demanding a home be demolished in their will. He said he understands it's a personal and very private decision, but a great loss to the community.

Renfrow asked in his will that the home be burned down during a training exercise for the fire department. Mayor Jim Taylor said they would not participate in the home's destruction, but would not challenge Renfrow's wishes to demolish it.

Tuesday afternoon, Taylor released the following statement:

"We are saddened that the Renfrow Home will be demolished. The Renfrow Family has a long history of commerce in our community. The Renfrow residence was built in the 1920s and for many years signaled your arrival into the Town of Matthews.

Mr. Frank Renfrow's last will and testament clearly outlined his desire for the home to be destroyed. The town did consult with the estate executors and decided it was not in the best interest of either party to challenge the last wishes of Mr. Renfrow

We regret Mr. Renfrow did not want to preserve the home and we feel that his wishes to do with his property as he saw fit should be honored. The community is suffering a double loss. Mr. Renfrow's death ends the lineage of one of Matthews' prominent families and the home where the Renfrow Family lived for decades."

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