Demolition Slated for Thursday for Durham Fair Buildings

Presidents' Hall and the Crow's Nest were damaged during the winter of 2011 and will be replaced by new structures.


A piece of Durham's history will come crashing down this week. Two pieces actually.

On Thursday, crews are scheduled to begin demolishing Presidents' Hall and the Crow's Nest building, both of which were during the winter of 2011.

The iconic structures will be torn down starting at 8 a.m., according to fair officals. Signs warning visitors to stay away from the site have already been installed and the public will be kept away from the site during demolition.

Built in 1925, Presidents' Hall was the first permanent building on the fairgrounds and was originally used as a cattle barn. More recently it was home to the baking, as well as arts and crafts exhibits.

The fair offices were located in the Crow's Nest, a two story building overlooking the fairgrounds. The building also housed produce, flowers and children's exhibits prior to the damage.

It's not clear when construction of the new buildings will begin but fair officials have said the new structures will be built at the same location. Initially, the fair planned to increase the square footage of the buildings by about 1,100.

Just my opinion July 17, 2012 at 11:15 AM
Too bad they don't refund partial rental fees to organizations along that area as they will definitely have less foot traffic which will impact their business. Each year there are things required for upgrades or other things to existing booths and each year there is less and less foot traffic however rental fees are the same. What about the non profits who have been there for years and now are struggling because of commercial venders. It seems like they don't matter to the association. It's all about profit, profit ,profit.
Sarah Atwell July 17, 2012 at 12:59 PM
Does the fair have a plan to draw crowds to the upper grounds? Now that the craft tent will no longer be on the green, there will be a serious lack of foot traffic in that area. Many non profits were just about able to cover their expenses, even when these two buildings were functional. The fair used to be a major fundraiser for local non profits, but that no longer seems to matter. Now that the focus of the fair will be on the lower grounds and from Canfield Lane south, it would be worth having a conversation about what kind of future those non profits closer to the green have with the fair. It's truly a shame that these buildings have to come down. If certain people on the executive board weren't so focused on having new buildings, I believe they could have been saved. Right from the start the focus was on having new buildings rather than repairing damage. The fair has always been about profit, but throughout time it has been a focus on the positive aspects of making a profit. Now there is a greedy, money hungry aspect to it that is no longer positive, and I blame the leadership for that.
nana of 5 July 17, 2012 at 01:17 PM
Sometimes the leadership needs to be changed. No one should serve on the leadership board more than 5 years. And they should not just be shuffled around into other positions on the board. They need to resign and work at the fair at non profit booths. only a few thoughts I have lived in this town for 40 years an it is always the same small circle of people....who make all the decisions
Jeremy Renninghoff July 17, 2012 at 01:23 PM
The old-money interests in the Fair Assn. want to "yuppify" the fair as has been done to the rest of the town. How much more will fairgoers have to pay for admission to cover debt service on new buildings? Then, how many people will not come to the fair because of the increase in ticket prices (as has been the case for a few years now), which in turn hurts the non-profit groups who rely on the fair for the majority of their revenues? As a side note, I think the "super coaster" is another ploy to attract people to what, sadly, appears to be a dying operation that is desperately trying to re-invent itself.
Karin Thody July 17, 2012 at 01:30 PM
Sarah-You should go look inside what was the baking area, now. The outside walls are caving out. There are termites in the walls. The roof has always leaked, and there is still mold everywhere. Lots of this damage was underneath the peg board walls. I can't understand how you could stand being in there with the heat, no air circulation, the mold, the smell, etc. Taking a closer look at the bigger building, you can now see how the total integrity of the building is gone. The roof caving in damaged the outside walls, the windows, the floors above, and the other parts of the building, as well. The pervasive mold in the Youth exhibit was making people sick. Most people haven't seen all of the irreversible damage and problems behind the interior walls as well as structurally. The whole President's Hall is leaning. The foundation posts in Youth are also leaning. I am surprised these buildings haven';t come down on their own long ago. I never felt "safe" while going up to or while I was in, the Crow's Nest. The floor moved up there! I agree it is a shame to tear them down, but we have no choice if you look at all of the problems those buildings have. As far as the upper grounds, they are trying to do what they can. We have gotten such pressure from the town to not put the Craft tent on the green because of the damage every year to the grass. Yes, of course the fair wants to make money. We can't keep dipping into our savings every year to survive, or soon there won't be a fair!
Karin Thody July 17, 2012 at 01:31 PM
Jeremy- Why don't you get involved? You seem to have all of the answers.
Karin Thody July 17, 2012 at 01:33 PM
To just my opinion- Those organizations already get a huge discount in their rental fees.
Sarah Atwell July 17, 2012 at 02:55 PM
I agree that the fair needs to make money and that there needs to be a substantial savings for maintaining the grounds and for any emergency that might arise. I do believe the roller coaster will pull in more people and I do hope it's worth the investment. I honestly believe that the fair has grown too much and is now over reaching itself. I think admission needs to be capped for the next several years because I think the fair is only worth what it now costs to get in. Anything more would be ridiculous. I never minded being in President's Hall. Yes it was hot and dirty but that's how it was for decades and that was just part of the fair. The Youth section should have been closed down years ago because of the problems they have been facing for so long. I just worry about how certain people at the top are impacting the volunteers, the relationship with the town, and the relationship with the townspeople and how that will impact the fair overall. That is where my main concern for the fair is. My other main concern is for those non profits who have no where to relocate from an essentially dead zone on the fair grounds. Unfortunately there will always be money issues because it's such a weather based event. I will continue to volunteer with the fair because it's an important part of the town's identity and history, but something just hasn't felt right for me in the last 5 years or so.
Just my opinion July 17, 2012 at 02:58 PM
Karin I don't believe anyone feels they alone have the answers however there are some facts that many feel are ignored. Such as non profits who have booths on the hill. Is there a way to move those booths to lower grounds and if so has the idea been entertained? Has the idea of giving non profits an item that no other booth is allowed to sell. this might be a few ways to help them. Has anyone approached nonprofits to see ways they think could help them. I know the fair is about profit however it is also about our home towns. those of us who live in Middlefield and Durham and serve as volunteers from the fair to fire departments, Lions club., libraries and many other non profits. It seems that at some point it needs to go back a step and remember what the fair began as. I would love to see growth as well as some old fashioned neighbor helping neighbor with the fair helping the non profits and the non profits helping the fair.
Stu July 17, 2012 at 04:55 PM
About 15 to 20 years ago, the Executive Committee of fair association, presented to the members at the annual meeting a revised set of the bylaws, which was approved at the membership. The revised bylaws effectively took all most all the power away from the membership, and give it to the Executive Committee. Unless, it has changed, and I remember correctly, proposed bylaw changes must be approved by the Executive Committee before being voted on for final approval by the membership at the annual meeting. If I am in correct about this, then some who knows can correct me.
Concerned July 17, 2012 at 05:30 PM
I agree with Sarah, things haven't seemed right the past few years. I think part of the problem is debt service, they probably should have built the new barns one at a time, and not borrowed so much.
Karin Thody July 17, 2012 at 07:40 PM
I have been involved for 10 years. The voting membership makes those decisions. You have to buy a membership and be elected to a position (officer, coordinator, superintendent. etc.) in order to be eligible to vote on major decisions. I don't remember it being any other way. The Executive Board doesn't have the power that you suggest.
Brigid July 17, 2012 at 11:32 PM
Karin Thody: You've been great about responding to so many of the posts I've seen thus far. I've heard conflicting reports about what exactly will be on the green. Giant pumpkins and cars for sale were among the things mentioned. So what's the real deal? What will be on the green to get people up there? Personally, I'll be happy to see the big white monster off the green, but the item that replaces it should attract people to the green.
nana of 5 July 18, 2012 at 12:43 AM
how do you buy a membership???? and what is the cost??? How do they get unelected or do they just fade away????? the fair needs new people to run it!!!!!
Karin Thody July 18, 2012 at 05:18 PM
to PDY- I don't know all of the particulars about what is going on the green. Debi Waz is in charge of that department.
Karin Thody July 18, 2012 at 05:24 PM
Anyone can buy a membership. They are $10 for the year. It gets you voting privileges at the annual meeting in December. Officers, coordinators (in charge of a dept. like Public Safety), superintendents (in charge of a particular area such as Baking), and assistant superintendents, all get elected at the annual meeting. In order to vote on a major decision, you need to be a member as well as hold an elected position. We have a nominations committee that proposes the slate of elected positions. Ricky Greenbacker is the chairman of the Nominating Committee for this year. Our meetings are the 2nd Wednesday of the month at the Medical Building on the fairgrounds. Anyone is welcome to attend. Come and get involved! We are always looking for new volunteers.


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