Florence leaders look to save historic Sulzbacher house

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - The Florence County Historical Commission has been campaigning to stop the demolition of the historic Sulzbacher House in East Florence.

The house on East Pine and Gaillard streets has deep roots in Florence. Commission members said it's one of the few structures in the area that represents how life in the city was long ago

"Once any structure is demolished, it's gone and while we may not be able to preserve it today, who's to say 60 days from now we can't come up with a plan to preserve it?" commission secretary Mark Buyck said.

Built around 1912, the house was home to three generations of the Sulzbacher family who were German-Jewish immigrants. Buyck says the family played an important role in forming Florence County.

Issac Sulzbacher was a jeweler and owned a store in downtown Florence for over 40 years. His son, Samuel Sulzbacher, was a member of city council. Buyck says he was instrumental in creating some of the parks in Florence, including Timrod Park, as well as a Jewish temple.

Buyck says a little more than two months ago, the city requested a demolition permit to destroy the structure. He said the city plans to redevelop the area by building affordable housing in its place.

If the commission finds historical significance in a property, they have 60 days to come up with a plan to preserve the building. Buyck said the initial 60 days are up, but the commission would ask the city to stall the request for an additional 60 days.

"What we are encouraging the city to do is come up with a solution that would leave the Sulzbacher house in place while they pursue their own redevelopment program," Buyck said.

Stephen Motte, curator of the Florence County Museum and a commission member, said the architecture of the house shows how different the East Pine neighborhood was during that era compared to today.

Motte said during that time the area was populated by middle-class Jewish immigrants.

"The intersection that the house is on, the corner of East Pine Street and Gaillard Street, was really the focal point of the neighborhood at its prime." Motte said. "The house represents this window in time, where we have very few remaining landmarks to represent that aspect of Florence's history."

Buyck and Motte said they hope the house can be incorporated into the city's redevelopment plan to help preserve the past, while still serving a purpose in the present.

"It could be used as a community center of some kind. I could be converted into municipal offices of some kind," Motte said.

Buyck said the commission plans to make their case to city council at next month's meeting.

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