Decision made to demolish historic Allen Jay House in High Point

Decision made to demolish historic Allen Jay House in High Point

HIGH POINT, NC (WGHP) — The historic Allen Jay House will soon be demolished. It dates back to before the Civil War and is named for Allen Jay, a prominent Quaker minister and educator. He and his wife once called the property home.

The Allen Jay House on East Springfield Road was damaged by fire in July 2023.

The house is owned by the Springfield Friends Meeting. A year later, they declared that restoration was too expensive, which led to the decision to demolish it.

“It was a heartbreaking decision for the church because it has been around longer than any of us. We are just sorry to see it go, but we cannot make it continue,” said Pastor Joshua Brown of the Springfield Friends Meeting.

The house has a rich history in High Point.

“It was probably built sometime in the early 1840s and was originally intended … as a schoolhouse for a school that was operated by the church at the time. We are also fairly certain that this house was a stop on the Underground Railroad, both because of the architecture of the building and because the person who lived here was the first cousin of Levi Coffin, who was the stationmaster or president of the Underground Railroad,” Brown said.

It also has a deep meaning for the Quaker communities.

“This house was also the center of a massive reconstruction effort. When the war ended, most of the Quaker schools in the state were destroyed,” Brown said. “From this building, a major reconstruction effort was launched, building 60 elementary schools and recruiting volunteer teachers from the North to staff them.”

The building’s owners were faced with a decision after the historic home was damaged by an electrical fire. Before the fire, the house was used by a missionary group of about 15 or 20 Quaker churches in the area.

Springfield Friends Meeting worked with inspectors, contractors and an insurance company to determine if restoration was possible.

“We just haven’t been able to put it all together. There are safety improvements and things like that that you have to do if you want to use a building like this. It’s not listed, even though it’s very historic,” Brown said.

The repair costs would be almost $250,000. That is expensive for the church.

Therefore, those responsible were forced to make the difficult decision to demolish the historic building.

“We made this decision very reluctantly. We do not have the resources to restore the building to its original condition,” Brown said.

The church leadership is still working on obtaining the necessary permits to demolish the building. Demolition could begin in September of this year at the earliest. They plan to salvage everything from the house that can still be salvaged.