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N.C. realtors question if, and how, to address keeping its headquarters in a Confederate officer’s mansion

The property was constructed for Confederate colonel Jonathan McGee Heck in 1872.

The Black members of the North Carolina Association of Realtors may be having second thoughts about the group keeping its headquarters in a historic mansion that was built for a confederate officer. 

Known as the Heck-Andrews house, the property was constructed for Colonel Jonathan McGee Heck in 1872, The Charlotte Observer is reporting. The house, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Place, was occupied until the late 1980s.

Heck-Andrews House. Credit: National Park Service

The Heck-Andrews would become a neglected state property that stood vacant for more than three decades. However, about six years ago the new owner, NC REALTORS®, paid $1.5 million to take over the ornate mansion and spent millions more renovating it. Now that the renovation is complete, many Black members of the North Carolina Realtors are taking a closer look at the home’s history and questioning if it’s a good look for them to be up in there.

“I don’t think people of color like walking into places that are named for people who have a Southern racist history,” said Monique Edwards, a broker with NC Living Realty. “I don’t. For me, this really becomes a conversation about how organizations purchase things and how do they move forward dealing with properties that are stigmatized.”

The NC Realtors released a statement on Thursday that read in part, “While we cannot change that past, we can use history to educate the public about our country’s imperfections. More importantly, as the property’s latest stewards, we can use the house to build a more perfect future.

The realtors group also noted in the statement that having its central office located so close to state lawmakers allows the group to continue to address discrimination in the housing market and work toward affordable housing policies.  The structure is located on Raleigh’s historic Blount Street, across from the lieutenant governor’s office and near the governor’s mansion.

“Like numerous historic properties throughout Raleigh, this property also has a history that ties it to a part of the South’s Confederate past through some of its many previous owners,” the statement read. “Though we cannot change the past, we are committed to recognizing this history and those within our industry who broke racial barriers to help fulfill the dream of homeownership.”

According to local historians, Heck — who served in the Virginia legislature during the Confederacy — did not own slaves. A historic marker outside the house is dedicated to his daughter Fannie in recognition of her women’s missionary work.

“The crux of the concern for me is, ‘How much do the members know about this history, and how do they feel about that affiliation’.“  asked Anthony Lindsey, a real estate agent in Charlotte. “Where do people stand on this? Or do they care? Maybe they don’t care. I would find it troubling if they didn’t care. I find it troubling that I don’t know that the organization has done a really good job of making members aware.”

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