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Top-O-Rock to be demolished

By Jared Hunt, Business editor and Matt Murphy
TOM HINDMAN/DAILY MAIL
Built around an outcropping of rock, Top-O-Rock was often rented out by private parties for weddings and other celebrations back in its heyday. The popular office space is not filled with debris from damage caused by vandalism.
TOM HINDMAN/DAILY MAIL Shattered glass and graffiti litter the grounds of Top-O-Rock, the once iconic home that sits atop a cliff overlooking the state Capitol.
TOM HINDMAN/DAILY MAIL Many of Top-O-Rock’s windows overlooking Charleston have been busted out by vandals in recent months. The city is giving the property owners 21 days to come up with a plan to address the damage.
TOM HINDMAN/DAILY MAIL Copper wiring and pipes have all be stripped from inside the Top-O-Rock home as well as the exterior air conditioning and heating units that line the property.
TOM HINDMAN/DAILY MAIL The doors to many of the rooms inside the 4,000-square-foot structure have been laced with graffiti.
TOM HINDMAN/DAILY MAIL The unsecured entrance to the Top-O-Rock home in Charleston has allowed vandals to destroy many of the award-winning home’s iconic features in recent months.

An iconic Charleston home that has recently fallen into disrepair will likely be demolished.

Rodney Loftis and Son Contracting has secured a contract to tear down Top-O-Rock, company owner Rodney Loftis said Tuesday evening. He did not provide further details.

City inspectors visited the famed Goddard Road home Monday morning after receiving complaints, Building Commissioner Tony Harmon said. They issued five citations to the owners for graffiti, broken glass and unsecured property.

On Tuesday, Top-O-Rock owners Dr. Mitchell Rashid and Kamilla Rashid were given 21 days to provide a plan to address the multiple violations at the building, or face up to $2,500 in fines.

Harmon said a “notice of violation” letter was sent to the Rashids Tuesday.

“If they don’t correct it within 21 days, we take them to court,” he said. “It needs to be secured as soon as possible.”

Harmon said the structure qualifies as “vacant” under Charleston’s new vacant property ordinance, meaning the Rashids could face additional fines if the requirements of that ordinance aren’t satisfied by Sept. 17 — six months after the ordinance was passed by council.

Harmon said the building can be repaired, but certainly needs attention.

“The building appears to be structurally sound,” he said. “A lot of work has to be done to it.”

The Rashids, who bought the house for $400,000 in 2011, did not return a request for comment.

The six-story, 4,000-square-foot hillside home was built in 1968 by late architect Henry Elden. The house was framed using 90 tons of structural steel that was fabricated by West Virginia Steel. The interior office section of the home was crafted around the rocky hillside with a tree growing out of it.

A native of Pennsylvania, Elden studied architecture at Carnegie Mellon University and came to Charleston to be an engineer for Union Carbide Corp. He eventually became a contractor and designed several buildings in the Kanawha Valley.

It was his Top-O-Rock home, where he lived until his death in January 2009, that attracted the most attention. Over the decades it was featured in many publications, including Parade Magazine and in a special on the Home & Garden Television network. It also won several awards, including one from the Steel Institute.

Three months after Elden’s death at age 94, about 1,700 people attended an estate sale held at the house by Elden’s children. The sale included a wide range of materials from lamps to Scandinavian furniture.

Today, most of the building’s iconic windows have been shattered, the grounds littered with broken shards. Most of the remaining windows feature graffiti of obscene language or drug paraphernalia.

Inside, several of the walls have been busted or ripped open. The building’s copper plumbing and wiring appear to have been stripped.

Upstairs, obscene graffiti on one door designates it as the room in which sexual intercourse should take place.

Henry Elden’s son Ted still lives near the property and has seen its condition deteriorate. He said most of the damage has occurred since November.

Ted Elden, who said he still gets calls from people wondering if they could hold their wedding at the property, said he’s sad to see what’s happened to it.

“It’s a beautiful building that has been badly destroyed by intentional neglect,” he said. “It’s terrible what’s going on there.”

Mayor Danny Jones said Monday he saw photos on Facebook of the damage.

While neighbors have called police on multiple occasions to report trespassing at the home, Jones said it was the responsibility of the property owner — not police — to make sure the home is secured.

“We’re not private security,” he said. “We can’t go over there and stand guard.”

While it’s suffered a lot of damage, Ted Elden said he thinks the building could still be salvaged. He said it would just take an investment to restore it back to its prior state.

“I think my father hit many things — it’s a great building and a great site,” he said. “The space itself is still quite valuable.”

Assistant City Editor Billy Wolfe contributed to this report.


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