Sanford Heritage Revolving Fund helps renovate historic homes

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The house at 213 S. Laurel Ave. is the first to be bought by the Sanford Heritage Revolving Fund. 

The house at 213 South Laurel Avenue was built in the late 1800s, and still stands today, though in a diminished form.
Local historic preservation group Sanford Heritage Revolving Fund bought the house and plans to renovate it after years of decay and what they see as mis-management.
The Sanford Heritage Revolving Fund was started in 2015 as a nonprofit organization. They aim to acquire troubled or blighted historic properties, restore them and sell them to buyers who agree to preserve them.
The house on Laurel was one of several houses moved in the 1950s when the Baptist church in downtown Sanford expanded and forced several houses out of their original spaces. It was moved from its original location on 5th Street and Park Avenue to its current one on Laurel Avenue.
Fund CEO Charlie Hull chronicled the history of the house in recent decades as one of disrepair. 
Recently, it’s been owned by a hedge fund out of California, with hundreds of thousands of dollars of City of Sanford liens on it. Hull and the Heritage Revolving Fund bought it from them, and the City forgave the liens due to the building's historic nature.
And, there were squatters residing there who refused to leave - one of them, Hull said, was encouraging the others to stay.
Hull had to get the courts involved to force them out.
Previously, it had been a rental unit owned by a landlord - one of the previous owners in decades past had turned it into four apartment complexes, rather than the single-family home it was built as.
But Hull said they want to turn it back into a home designed specifically for ownership rather than leasing out for rent.
“If the property is built as a single family home, it should stay a single family home,” Hull said. “We want to preserve the houses in this district. Owner-occupied houses typically take better care of them than landlords and tenants. It’s a well-known fact all over the country. It’s about the pride of ownership. You own something, you take care of it. Renters are usually just looking forward to investor returns. They don’t have pride in the property like an owner.”
From here, the road to renovation will be long.
Hull said previous owners of the property didn’t do “any work or maintenance,” and that rather than replacing the floors when they were damaged, they simply layered new floors over-top. Now, because of that, the floors have deteriorated badly.
“It’s basically held together with tape,” Hull said.
They’re trying to restore the house to how it was originally built, taking out windows installed in recent years and putting a staircase back where it originally was after it was moved, Hull said.
They’re doing demolition and floor work inside right now, and Hull said they’re underway, just “moving at a crawl” right now in the early stages. But he said they hope to be finished by next April or May.
The fund will also be working with Seminole State College in the near future to provide opportunities to work on the house to students seeking degrees in architecture or design.

- Larry Griffin, Herald Staff,

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