RALEIGH — The widow of actor Andy Griffith has gotten a permit to tear down the house where he lived for many years on the North Carolina waterfront, upsetting friends who had hoped it would be preserved as a museum or Graceland-type estate.
Cindi Griffith obtained the demolition permit, according to Dare County records. County officials and friends confirmed the permit is to demolish a smaller house along the Roanoke Sound that Griffith bought in the 1950s, not the larger house that he and Cindi built nearby several years ago.
William Ivey Long, the Tony Award-winning costume designer whose parents were friends with Griffith and his first wife, Barbara, said Griffith told him in 2007 that he wanted to preserve the older home as a museum.
Griffith, who died last July, was best known for playing the wise Sheriff Andy Taylor on “The Andy Griffith Show” and lawyer Ben Matlock on “Matlock.”
Griffith wanted the museum to include items from his TV shows, along with memorabilia from his music career, Long said. They didn’t discuss whether it would compete with the Andy Griffith Museum in Griffith’s hometown of Mount Airy, Long said.
Cindi Griffith didn’t return messages. Her husband’s will doesn’t mention a museum or the property. The will, dated May 3, 2012, two months before Griffith died, turns over most of his property and estate to the trustee of a trust, whose records aren’t public. The attorney for the will declined to comment.
The demolition contractor, Calvin Gibbs, also didn’t return a call. It wasn’t clear Wednesday if the demolition had begun.
Della Basnight of Manteo, whose family was friends with Griffith since she was a child, said she understood that Cindi Griffith had the right to do whatever she wanted with the property.
Many of Griffith’s older friends met him while they worked in “The Lost Colony,” an outdoor drama that tells the story of the 1587 colony on the North Carolina coast that mysteriously disappeared.
Ira David Wood III, who is the show’s executive director this summer, first worked at “The Lost Colony” in 1968. He recalled going to Griffith’s house and taking a pontoon boat to a sandbar where Griffith and his guests played volleyball. “He hated to lose, and he did cheat,” Wood said.