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What is the history of Solomon Towers?

Ben Steelman

Solomon Towers in downtown Wilmington.

Solomon Towers is an 11-story apartment building at 15 Castle St., Wilmington [Map this], owned by the Wilmington Housing Authority.

The building was designed by the Leslie N. Boney architectural firm and built between 1970 and 1972 by H.L. Coble Construction of Greensboro.

Solomon Towers was formally dedicated in 1973 and named for Harry M. Solomon, a businessman who was chairman of the Wilmington Housing Authority commissioners for 25 years.

At 11 stories, it was Wilmington’s tallest building and its first high-rise apartment. At the time it was one of just four public housing structures in North Carolina dedicated to the elderly and disabled.

Currently, the building has 151 apartment units, including efficiency apartments and two-bedroom units. The WHA website says units range in size from 437 to 865 square feet and include window air conditioning. Residents also have access to an activity room, a television sitting area, a coin laundry and picnic tables.

A fire that spread to several apartments on Feb. 15, 1983, killed 3 residents (two from smoke inhalation, one from heart failure) and forced a general evacuation.

In October 1992, a wheelchair-bound resident with a history of mental-health problems fired a pistol through a door, wounding a maintenance worker.

In September 2010, a man was found stabbed to death in an apartment at Solomon Towers. Neither the victim nor the man charged in his death lived there.

The Housing Authority entered into a contract for the sale of Solomon Towers with the Caper Corp. in 2007, but that contract never came to fruition, Wilmington Housing Authority CEO Mike Krause said.

The authority has since invested roughly $2.9 million in renovations to the public housing unit. Those renovations include replacing windows and balcony sliders, and implementing a water conservation retrofit, kitchen updates and more.

Caper Corp., a developer, had agreed in June 2007 to buy the Solomon Towers in downtown Wilmington for $13 million, according to the city housing authority.

The scuttled sale of Solomon Towers would have meant 150 residents of the senior and handicapped housing facility on Castle Street would have had to move.

The developer was interested in converting the building into condominiums.

Before Solomon Towers was built, mostly the area was the site of modest single-family houses, at least some of which were moved across the street when construction began. A Greek family once ran a confectioner’s shop in the vicinity. In the early 1900s, gas tanks used to illuminate the city’s gaslights were located on or near the site.

Related links:

Does the Wilmington Housing Authority provide transportation for residents of its housing?

How many homeless people are in this area?

How many homeless veterans are there in the area?

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6 Responses to “ What is the history of Solomon Towers?”

  1. On October 19, 2010 at 4:04 pm concerned citizen wrote:

    I have often wished that the tower would be converted into condos, or even torn down to make for a more attractive building.

    I know it seems insensitive to the residents, but that property should be re-gentrified and the residents given adequately comparable housing elsewhere that is not in such high demand.

  2. On October 24, 2010 at 4:25 pm Megs Dad wrote:

    I would like to respond to “concerned citizen”.I hope have some idea of the amount of trash there is in leveling a 11 story building.Massive amounts.Maybe Mr Saffo can sell it to that far to rich man from India who just built a 27 story house in New York City. Now that house even offended people in NYC!!
    Now you may not think of a building that was built in 1973 as a piece of history but it is. You can’t toss everything in the trash just because you don’t like the way it looks.
    Thank You

  3. On October 25, 2010 at 5:02 pm Kristine wrote:

    @Megs Dad: What do you think happened to the old Wachovia building downtown? It was torn down. Happens all the time.

    There is no reason this old building can’t be torn down (or heavily remodeled) and repurposed. It just doesn’t make economic sense to have public housing on waterfront property. Just think of the tax base that could be gained from allowing it to be developed by private entities (who would be taxed based on the land’s high value), rather than owned by the city??

  4. On November 8, 2010 at 4:19 pm Beajeah wrote:

    I met some of the people at Solomon. One of them was an elderly white woman that was frantic with worry when there was talk of the building being sold. A black woman, in her 60s was also a nervous wreck because she felt she had no where else to go, except to the grave, if they sold the building. I met a man who was closing in on 70 years old, whom had moved back to Wilmington from New York. He came back home to Wilmington to “take the big sleep” with his parents. In other words, he came back home to die, and be buried alongside of his mom and dad. I met white people, black people, people from different walks of life, but they were all people…….the molded and shaped in the Creator’s image. They were from different stations in life, but to me, it didn’t matter what station they had held….I was richer for having met them. It is my hope and prayer that the Creator will continue to preserve and keep them in their home at Solomon Towers.

  5. On March 12, 2012 at 11:16 pm concerned citizen wrote:

    The people that live there would be moved free of charged to a newer and better equipped place to live. The WHA can sell it, provide better places for the current residents elsewhere and still have $ left over for helping MORE people just like the ones in the tower… and for that matter, they should do the same thing to the Elderly Hotel Apts on Chestnut and 2nd.
    Current residents get newer and better equipped facilities, a developer get a chance to remodel and provide jobs and housing that is in demand, downtown benefits from residents with disposable income and a facelift on run-down buildings.

  6. On October 8, 2017 at 6:15 pm galdra wrote:

    From what I understand, people aren’t happy because this location has a beautiful view of the river and the greedy developers want to displace the seniors to profit off of that. Horrible how developers get their way in an already over-built city. Leave the residents alone and let them live out their days in peace.

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