Bern’s new landmark faces uncertain future as recreation center project nears

A New Bern monument that has stood for more than 100 years could soon be demolished if it cannot be moved from its current location.

The Tisdale House, which dates back to the early 1900s, is located at 1312 Broad St. on what was once farmland well outside the city limits of New Bern. With the town having grown around it, the three-story house now sits in a strip of commercial ventures on property designated for the new Stanley White Leisure Centre.

Although the city is offering the house for free to anyone willing to move it, so far no one has come forward, according to City Manager Foster Hughes. If the house is not moved by September 30, other options, including possible demolition, will have to be considered, Hughes said.

The city will offer tours of the home each Thursday in June, from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., Hughes said during the first tour on June 2, 10 interested parties toured the home.

“We had several people who called the town hall. The clerk talks to them and tries to answer their questions. Several people have expressed interest in doing something with the house,” Hughes said.

Home relocation proposals must be sent to the New Bern Preservation Foundation by 5 p.m. on Monday, June 27. Proposals should be emailed to Questions can be directed by calling (252) 639-2701.

Proposals should include the following:

  • A general description of why you are interested in the home and your renovation plans.
  • Proposed location of where the house would be moved and proof of site control.
  • Estimates from qualified movers on the cost of moving the structure to the new location.
  • Describe your ability to move the house by September 30, 2022.
  • A performance bond is required to cover the full cost of relocating the home.

A century of wood and brick history

Many of the rooms in the Tisdale House feature the house's original brick fireplaces.

The Tisdale House sits on the edge of five plots of land purchased by the city in June 2020 as an alternative site for the new Stanley White Recreation Center, which was damaged by flooding during Hurricane Florence in 2018.

Last August, following an environmental review by FEMA, the Board of Aldermen voted to rebuild the recreation center on the alternate site rather than its original location on Chapman Street.

Hughes said the city “has other options in place” if an agreement isn’t reached to move the Tisdale home, but he wasn’t ready to provide details yet.

“This house needs to be moved so we can make room for the Stanley White Recreation Center parking lot. Our preference is that it be relocated so that someone can enjoy it, that’s the goal. The last thing we would want to do is tear it down,” Hughes said.

The house has stood empty since its most recent occupant, the Black Swan Flea Market, relocated in 2020. With its spiral staircases, hardwood floors and fireplaces, it still retains much of its early 20th century character. century.

A spiral staircase transports visitors through the three stories of the Tisdale House, which dates back to the early 1900s.

Although structurally sound, Hughes said the house needed repairs. The porch, which has begun to rot underneath, would need to be removed before the house can be moved, he noted.

“He’s over 100 years old,” Hughes said. “When you walk through this house, you can look at certain things and say it needs work. But can it be relocated, can it be moved and rehabilitated? Absolutely.”

The Tisdale House is the second structure to move to make way for the new Stanley White Rec Center. A brick house originally on the site has been moved to Eubanks Street by the Redevelopment Commission and will be redeveloped into housing.

The city hopes to begin the Stanley White Recreation Center construction project by the end of the year, according to Kari Greene-Warren, acting director of parks and recreation.

With construction expected to take about a year, the new leisure center would be completed by the end of 2023 at the earliest, she said.

“It’s going to be a transformation of this area when the new recreation center is here,” commented Hughes.

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