Fayetteville, North Carolina – The fence surrounding the historic, but controversial, Fayetteville Market House finally came down this week. The words “Black Lives Matter” and “End Racism Now” remain.
Crews erected the fence to carry out repairs after protesters set fire to the market on May 31, 2020, six days after the killing of Fayetteville native George Floyd in Minneapolis.
On March 28, 2022, Fayetteville City Council voted to tear down the fence.
“The fence will be removed to allow public access to the exterior areas of the Market House, including the street-level open terrace,” said a press release issued by the city.
Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin said the city is still exploring the next step for the building.
“The Market House story… It means different things to different people, but ultimately it was part of the overall story of the story,” Colvin said. “We just want to make sure that if it’s reused it’s something educational and more so an asset to tell the true story of what really happened during those dark days.”
Some city council members have previously said they want to turn the Market House into a black history museum, but the building does not meet the requirements listed in the Americans with Disabilities Act. The building has no elevator and its only bathroom is located on the second floor.
There are plans to build an African American History Museum nearby on Person Street. Sir David Adjaye will 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 this as a great opportunity for this community to come together.
“What is the history of Fayetteville with its black citizens, from slavery until today?” Cassel said. “And, seize the opportunity and build a museum.
“And also, redefining the historic downtown through architecture and design with the Market House at the center of it all.”
On Friday, Cassell told WRAL News that there are no renderings of the Black History Museum project yet.
“The architect must 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 to build specifically for the museum. He also talked about how plans for the proposed museum should complement the Market House.
“They’re both integral to the dialogue that needs to take place in Fayetteville,” Cassell said.
The Market House is a park operated by Fayetteville-Cumberland Parks and Recreation. It is open to the public from dawn to dusk.
Over the past year, representatives from the U.S. Department of Justice and the Fayetteville-Cumberland Human Relations Commission have gathered feedback and developed community-focused recommendations for the future of the property.
In April 2021, Fayetteville City Council voted to repurpose the Market House, a 200-year-old house in the middle of town where slaves were once bought and sold.
Possibilities include completely altering the structure, creating an art exhibit, creating a black history exhibit, creating a market for black vendors, and developing a space event.
In November 2020, two Fayetteville men pleaded guilty to charges related to the May 2020 fire at the Market House during protests following Floyd’s death.
The Fayetteville Market House was built in 1838 on the site of the old State House and City Hall, which burned down in 1831. Fayetteville served as the capital of North Carolina from 1789 to 1794.