Goodnight Raleigh - a look at the art, architecture, history, and people of the city at night

Moving a Mega-Monument

The Relocation of the Seaboard Railroad Office Building

While watching the relocation of the Merrimon-Wynne House last weekend, a friend jokingly remarked: “What historic house in Raleigh has NOT been moved from its original site?” Indeed, in the last thirty years or so, Raleigh has seen more than its fair share of  “a whole lotta movin’ and a-shakin’ goin’ on.”

 

The largest structure in Raleigh ever transported from its original site was the former Raleigh and Gaston (later, Seaboard) Railroad office building. Back in 1977, to accommodate construction of the Halifax State Government Mall, the entire residential district bounded by Lane, Salisbury, Peace and Wilmington Streets had to go. Sadly, the area had already been sliding into a state of near perdition for many years. Nonetheless, many historic and architecturally significant buildings still graced the neighborhood. Among these were the Merrimon House, the Lewis-Smith House, the Capehart House — and the Seaboard office building.

 


The Seaboard Railroad Office Building in 1974 at its original site at the corner of Halifax and North Streets. 

The original two-storey, solid brick Italianate-style structure was built in 1861. Later, in the 1870s or 1880s, a double set of ornamental cast-iron porches was added to both the front and rear facades. An architecturally sympathetic third floor topped off the building in 1891. And in the early 20th century, a rather utilitarian two-storey annex was attached to the south side. Despite these alterations, the Seaboard office building sat steadfast at the corner of Halifax and North Streets for more than a hundred years.

 

Recognizing its historic and architectural value, the state decided to move the massive structure about two blocks to the west, across Salisbury Street. As I recall, the move took several weeks. I’ll always remember how odd and ungainly the building appeared during the move, sitting high up on the flat-bed trailer of an enormous truck. Finally, it arrived at its destination, where it again sat up on blocks for several weeks.

 

Nowadays, surrounded by gray state government office buildings and parking decks, the restored Seaboard building visually stimulates an otherwise bland corner of the Halifax Mall. I am sure that most of the hundreds of people who walk or drive by every day have no idea that this nearly 150 year-old megastructure has occupied this particular spot for only thirty years.

The view above was taken right after the Seaboard Office Building was moved. The pile of ruble in the left-center is where it stood. Below, the relocated building sits on its new foundation.



Today, the Seaboard Office Building adds a spark of color and visual interest to this bland corner of Halifax Mall.


 

 


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