The City of Greensboro is considering an application to expand the Downtown Historic District.

The proposed updates to the Downtown Historic District will be discussed at a public meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 19 at the Greensboro History Museum Auditorium at 130 Summit Ave.

One of the expansions of the historic district being considered is to include the Governmental Complex bounded by West Market Street, West Washington Street, South Greene Street and South Eugene Street.  This block includes the beautiful Old Guilford County Court House that Guilford County recently spent millions of dollars repairing and renovating.

But it also includes the Guilford County Courthouse and city hall, also known as the Melvin Municipal Office Building – two of the uglier buildings in downtown Greensboro

Not only are those two buildings ugly from the outside, they don’t function well.  City manager after city manager has tried to devise a way to make use of some of the immense amount of wasted space in city hall.  In 2008, Guilford County renovated the courthouse to add something most buildings have – a staircase.

City hall was designed by Eduardo Catalano and opened in the early 1970s.  It is reportedly a prime example of the Brutalism style of architecture and is evidently old enough now to be considered historic despite not being attractive.

The Downtown Historic District was included on the National Register in 1982 and in 2018 there was an effort to update that listing.  In 2021, the Greensboro Planning Department received a grant from the federal Historic Preservation fund and hired hmwPreservation of Durham to resurvey the downtown historic district.

It is the result of that work by hmwPreservation that will be discussed at the public meeting on Jan. 19. Along with including Governmental Plaza in the district, the recommendation includes extending the district’s period of significance to 1963 to include the civil rights marches and events.

The final proposal of updates to the Downtown Greensboro Historic District’s listing will be presented to the NC National Register Advisory Committee on Feb. 9.