Editorial: Blackmer House far gone, but not forgotten
The longer the burned-out Blackmer House deteriorates at the entrance to the West Square Historic District, the more it tarnishes the legacy of Sidney and Suzanne Blackmer.
Sad, isn’t it? An actor and actress once so keen on artistry and theater are represented in his hometown by a crumbling old house on Fulton Street ó a building that appears destined for demolition.
Heir and owner Jonathan Blackmer has not responded to recent correspondence from the city. Last October he requested and received a certificate of appropriateness for demolition which set a 365-day clock ticking. Once the year is up, Blackmer can start the demolition process. On the surface, it appears Jonathan Blackmer has given up. Some would encourage him to exorcise this troubling ghost of a building from the district and move on. It looks too far gone to save.
Not so, says Jack Thomson, executive director of Historic Salisbury Foundation. Where passersby see a candidate for demolition, Thomson sees another Hall House. The foundation’s landmark house museum and the Blackmer House are architecturally similar in detail and significance, he says. Though restoring the Blackmer House would be costly ó “north of $250,000,” he conservatively estimates ó Thompson believes a restored house at that location and with that history could become one of the most valuable properties in the West Square Historic District.
Is Thomson dreaming? Sometimes that’s what it takes to see the value hidden behind peeling paint and boarded-up windows. Photos from the home’s better days show its potential as a stately home. Two and a half decades may have passed since fire made the Blackmer House virtually uninhabitable, but it still stands as a reminder of Salisbury’s rich history. Let’s hope talk of demolition is just talk and the Blackmer House survives to see better days.