Photo courtesy Charleston Daily Mail/Tom Hindman
This photo shows the damage to the Top-O-Rock house in Charleston.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — An iconic house in Charleston has been thrust back into the media spotlight this week, but it’s not the kind of publicity normally associated with the Top-O-Rock house overlooking the Capital City.

Built in 1968 the once-grand home was a marvel of modern architecture and engineering. The original owner built the house into the hillside of the craggy bluffs overlooking the city. It has been featured in magazines and articles for years.

Today, the home is a shell of its former self and apparently headed for demolition. Windows are smashed, walls kicked in, graffiti is spray-painted throughout and squatters built a fire in the structure. The condition has been deteriorating for well over a year according to some, but City of Charleston building inspector Tony Harmon said only last week that his office received calls from neighbors complaining.

“I’ve been there several times and walked through it and I was in disbelief that kids or vagrants or whoever was up there really did a number on it,” said Harmon. “People stole the copper and anything they could out of it and decided they were going to destroy the windows. There was even a fire built at some time in the middle of it where it looked like somebody had been staying.”

Harmon issued five citations to the owners to compel them to remedy the problem. He said the most pressing issue is to get the home secured with plywood over the windows and doors to keep people from climbing inside. The city also wanted a plan of action soon and not necessarily one of tearing down the historic home.

“I’m a bit of a historian myself and I would hate to see something that’s been in Charleston that long and that’s been in magazines back in the day demolished,” said Harmon.

While Harmon said the city is willing to work with the homeowner on whatever route they wish to take, it is ultimately not up to the city to make the determination. The Top-O-Rock’s fate may already be sealed anyway.

Demolition contractor Rodney Loftis confirmed to 58WCHS radio on Wednesday he has the contract to tear down the house and is going through the normal process of asbestos assessment and other pre-demolition requirements. He said the demolition could start in three to four weeks.

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  • Aaron

    I thought Harvey Peyton hit the head squarely with the nail on this subject on WCHS' Ask the expert this morning.

    We have too many dilapidated buildings occupying space and wasting taxpayer dollars while creating eyesores. Old Staats Hospital on Washington Street is a perfect example. Tear them all down.

  • northforkfisher

    It's a shame to let parts of our history go like this. The sad thing is the grandeur of architecture and engineering of this being destroyed. It's a testament to the drive and mind's that made this state unique.

  • Larry

    I wonder how he came up with the name for the house?

  • Richard

    The sad thing is this it what the future of WV looks like. The people that have controlled this state for so long have only raped and run this once great state in the ground. It is time to vote all democrats out of office.

    • vashti

      it's all Obama's fault

    • Joe

      What in the world does an absentee owner not taking care of this house have to do with Democrats? There is nothing that is going to save Charleston in the near term when it failed, a long time ago, to have a viable plan in place for the long term, when coal and chemicals were either mechanized, replaced, or moved on to other areas

      • Ex WV Native..

        Nice.. and people wonder why no one wants to come and invest in WV's future..

  • Chef Camille

    Why not have a Goodwin buy it and make a tourist center?

  • Benthere

    Symbolizes where Charleston was... and where it is today.

  • Whip

    Sad, this was a great piece architectural work. I got to visit while I was an engineering student and was amazed at the structure.

  • Tom

    Why would Dr. Rashid pay $400,000 for the house just three years ago, leave it unattended to become vandalized, and then tear it down? Does he have a hidden motive?

    • reality check

      yeah, his hidden motive to lose a massive investment. The Gazette, which apparently has now taken this up as their newest crusade (with daily articles - apparently they tired of attacking our AG on a daily basis), did note that there were fairly serious issues with restoring the place.

  • cutty77

    I'm sure Mr Elden is turning over in his grave. What a beautiful place it use to be.