Ray Holliman watched as the massive fire on the south side of downtown Greensboro nearly consumed the area around Washington and Davie streets.
“They had already kind of written off the south end of this block and they just wanted to protect the exposures,” says Ray.
If that sounds like the kind of thing a firefighter would say, it should. Ray was part of the Greensboro Fire Department working to save the structures – including one he would come to own, along with other members of his family.
His aunt, Diana Poston, and her husband were living in New Jersey, happily running a software business that they owned that was designed for testing in nuclear power plants.
But the idea of becoming owners of a classic, art deco building that – at the time – was almost 70 years old was too tempting to pass up.
So, the Postons and Hollimans took over the building in the 1990s and it was a good thing they got such a deal on it.
“Is it fair to say that it cost you more to rehab the building than it took to purchase it?” asks a visitor.
"Oh, definitely," responds Diana.
But it has been a true labor of love.
“I love it, I'm glad I went on the adventure, it's wonderful, it's enriched my life. And I think it's helped the people in the community, too,” Diana said. “Longtime residents would come to visit me and they would tell me what used to be in the building.”
That includes everything from famous companies to, at one point, a full law library for all the attorneys who had offices in its 8 stories.
When it was built, it was a showpiece – something of a work of art that was a function of its era.
“I think people put on gloves and made it an occasion to walk along Elm Street and come into the big, fancy buildings and do their banking,” says Diana of the Roaring Twenties, when the Guilford Building was built.
Now, it houses dozens of various businesses, though one, in particular, made it one of the most coveted spots in all of the southeast … see which one and why, plus why Ray says of owning the building:
“There are three partners, now - any one of the three could retire at will, basically. But we don't have the will to retire.”