By Todd Cohen
RALEIGH, N.C. — The A.J. Fletcher Foundation is buying the former Boylan Pearce department store building on Fayetteville Street Mall in downtown Raleigh and plans to turn it into a facility for nonprofits.
The foundation, which helped buy the historic Briggs Hardware building next door in 1997 for $500,000 and now occupies its top floor, paid $350,000 to the estate of Ruth Samuels for the Boylan Pearce building.
Tom McGuire, the foundation’s executive director, says renovations on the three-story, 20,000-square-foot building could cost up to $2 million.
“We plan to create some type of center for nonprofits, either in the arts or other fields,” he says, with a gallery or performing arts area possibly located on the ground floor.
Renovation will begin immediately and the building should be ready to occupy next spring.
The foundation first will remove the stucco façade that was added to the building in late 1950s, and also will seek to place the building on the National Register of Historic Places. The building was built in the early 1900s.
“This building represents another opportunity to bring people downtown and to provide affordable office space for nonprofit organizations,” McGuire says.
The four-story Briggs building, which had renovations totaling $2.5 million, also is co-owned and occupied by Preservation North Carolina and the Raleigh City Museum, and includes Special Olympics North Carolina as a tenant.
Steve Schuster, a principal in the Raleigh architectural firm Clearscapes that will design the renovation project, says the Boylan Pearce building has two unusual design features.
First, he says, its structure is poured-in-concrete, while other buildings constructed in Raleigh in the early 1900s were wooden structures build in masonry shells.
Second, stone and brick lie beneath the false stucco façade.
“It’s a magnificent building,” he says.