High Point city officials are looking to the future for an area on East Washington Drive now that a big part of its past is gone.

The century-old Kilby Hotel, once a centerpiece of the High Point African-American business district, collapsed on June 11. It was a sad ending for a building that had been in gradual decline. Benjamin Briggs is the executive director of Preservation Greensboro. In his youth, his bus passed by the Kilby on his way to school. Briggs says he can remember even then marveling at the architecture. Later, in the early 1990s, Briggs got a chance to go inside the building while it was still occupied.

The Kilby Hotel was listed on the National Register of Historic Places more than 30 years ago. It was originally owned by Nanny Kilby, a black woman who Briggs says served as a role model for community in High Point. According to Briggs, at one time, the three-story brick hotel helped define the neighborhood.

Recent years have been unkind to the Kilby Hotel. A year or so ago, the roof caved in. City officials worried that the crumbling building posed a risk to pedestrians and drivers on Washington Drive. Neighbors told the city they could hear creaks in the building. High Point spokesman Jeron Hollis says those concerns prompted the city to get involved.

Not long before the collapse, a California company had expressed an interest in preserving the building. Meanwhile, the risks became serious enough that the city issued a demolition order to tear the structure down. Ultimately, though, Mother Nature hit the hotel before the wrecking ball could. An overnight storm brought a part of the building down earlier this month. The rest of the building collapsed that afternoon.

The Kilby Hotel is still owned by descendants of Nanny Kilby. Hollis says they have not made a decision on what will happen to the site. He says that even though the building is gone, it's still possible to have something positive come out of its collapse.

No one was injured when the building fell. Much of the debris from the Kilby Hotel's collapse ended up in Washington Drive. The city has since cleaned that up. Hollis says the rest of the cleanup is the responsibility of the owners.

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