Linda Duyer: There’s history in every building

Kudos to Salisbury Independent for providing the Oct. 20th article on Brad Gillis and Joey Gilkerson.

It was a fascinating article!

Permit me to provide a cautionary editorial response to one of Brad’s comments in an article which was such a fun read.

Brad responded to a question with what is likely a logical statement, “… a majority of Salisbury’s housing stock is over 50 years old and does not have any historical significance.”

But I would urge extra vigilance be exercised towards verifying whether or not a structure has any historical significance.

In truth, all buildings have historical significance.

Some of them may not look pretty or are dilapidated, unsafe, or no longer functional. But they do represent history — the good, the bad, the changing, the disappearing — but they are part of the community’s past.

In making decisions of what to do with a building, some thought should go into considering the significance and what it may mean or have meant to some people.

Personally, I feel it important to consider salvaging the seemingly-unsalvageable, even if the expense makes no sense.

I also believe that if a building is torn down, there should be some civic responsibility that it not die without being remembered. Ultimately, the history of buildings and sites is about people.

The buildings shown here are not likely those Brad refers to. But I add them as something to think about.

The brick row seen by most of us on a daily basis was built in 1911 specifically as housing for newly-hired shipbuilders for the then growing industry.

When considering what to build, local developer and brick contractor W.C. Powell went to Philadelphia to look at housing there, likely inspiration for this housing.

Of the four other buildings shown, one dates to about 1820, another to about 1840. One building had been a small store. Another building housed a ship captain of the steamboat Virginia.

Linda Duyer lives in Salisbury and is in the process of writing a book about the community’s history. Contact her at

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