The father who couldn't persuade the city to let him raze the Charleston single house where his daughter perished in a January fire has decided to honor her memory in a different way -- by rebuilding.
Paul Saylor, an Atlanta businessman, lost his 21-year-old daughter Olivia when a blaze struck her house at 108M Smith St. on New Year's Day.
About six weeks later, Saylor and his consultants went before the city's Board of Architectural Review for permission to demolish what was left of the home and landscape the remaining site as a memorial to her.
While board members agonized over his loss, a structural report showed the house was in better shape than many buildings that the city has refused to allow to be torn down. The board rejected his request 5-2.
Saylor said he didn't expect that decision but understands it in hindsight.
"I know more now than I knew then," he said. "As I said to the contractor and architect, we're going to make this the best damn 1,200-square-foot historic house that we can."
During the emotional Feb. 9 meeting, neighbors and friends of Olivia made clashing pleas for the board to see it their way.
Immediately after the vote, Saylor indicated he planned to leave the charred house as it was, scarred with soot and boarded up in spots.
Saylor said he likes Charleston and his daughter loved Charleston. He plans to maintain ownership for his own use.
He said he realized that leaving it in a neglected state would be unfair to the neighbors, some of whom are trying to sell their homes.
The renovation plans and a few small changes are scheduled to go back before the board Wednesday.
Saylor isn't planning to be there, but neither he nor local preservationists expect any serious clash this time.
"I don't know how you don't support it," Saylor said, "because we're making it into the quintessential Charleston historical rebuilt structure."
Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.