Fence removed, future of Fayetteville Market House remains in question :: WRAL.com

— Fencing surrounding the historic, but controversial, Fayetteville Market House finally came down this week. The words “Black Lives Matter” and “End Racism Now” remain.

Crews put up the fence to make repairs after protestors set fire to the market house on May 31, 2020, six days after Fayetteville native George Floyd was murdered in Minneapolis.

On March 28, 2022, the Fayetteville City Council voted to take down the fencing.

“The fencing will be removed to allow public access to the exterior areas of the Market House, including the open terrace area at street level,” a city-issued news release said.

Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin said the city is still exploring what’s next for the building.

“The history of the Market House … It means different things to different people, but at the end of the day, it was part of the overall story of history,” Colvin said. “We just want to make sure that if it’s repurposed, then it is something that is educational and more so an asset to tell the true story about what really happened during those dark days.”

Some city council members have previously said they wanted to turn the Market House into a Black history museum, but the building doesn’t meet requirements listed in the Americans with Disabilities Act. The building does not have an elevator, and its only bathroom is located on the second floor.

Fayetteville City Council votes to repurpose historic Market House

There are plans to build an African American History Museum nearby on Person Street. Sir David Adjaye is going to design the museum. Adjaye and the late Durham architect Phil Freelon designed the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

Project manager Billy Cassell sees it as a great opportunity for this community to come together.

“What is the history that Fayetteville has had with its Black citizens, all the way from slavery through current day?” Cassell said. “And, to take the opportunity and to build a museum.

“And also, to redefine the historic downtown through architectural and through design with the Market House at the center of it all.”

On Friday, Cassell told WRAL News that renderings do not yet exist of the proposed Black history museum.

“The architect has to know everything about this community,” Cassell said. “It will be a unique architectural design.”

Cassell said there are plans to engage the community on what specifically to build for the museum. He also spoke about how plans for the proposed museum should compliment the Market House.

“They’re both integral to the dialogue that needs to occur in Fayetteville,” Cassell said.

The Market House is a park facility managed by Fayetteville-Cumberland Parks and Recreation. It is open to the public from dawn to dusk.

Over the last year, representatives from the U.S. Department of Justice and the Fayetteville-Cumberland Human Relations Commission have collected feedback and developed community-oriented recommendations for the future of the property.

In April 2021, the Fayetteville City Council voted to repurpose the Market House, a 200-year-old home in the middle of the city where enslaved people were once bought and sold.

Possibilities include changing the structure altogether, creating an art display, creating a Black history display, producing a marketplace for Black vendors and developing an event space.

Fayetteville City Council votes to repurpose historic Market House

In November 2020, two Fayetteville men pleaded guilty to charges related to the May 2020 fire set at the Market House during the protests after Floyd’s death.

The Fayetteville Market House was built in 1838 on the site of the old state house and Town Hall, which burned down in 1831. Fayetteville served as the capital of North Carolina from 1789-1794.