For the first time since vandals tried to burn down the Market House in May 2020, Fayetteville residents can walk around the first floor of the building.

The city put a fence around the historic structure while repairs were made. On March 28, the City Council voted to take it down. 

The removal allows public access to the exterior areas of the structure, including the “open terrace area at street level,” according to a statement released by the city last week. City workers would clear the area and perform required inspections to make sure the area was safe before the fence was removed, it said.

Related:Controversy over Market House hit a boiling point in 2020 — and conversation hasn’t died down

Related:From slave auctions to an execution, the Market House holds a dark role in Fayetteville’s past

More:Fayetteville City Council talks about future of Market House

Fencing around the Market House, which surrounded it for nearly two years, has been taken down and pedestrians can once again walk around the structure's first floor, Thursday, April 14, 2022.

The Market House is a park facility managed by Fayetteville-Cumberland Parks and Recreation. It is open to the public from dawn to dusk.  

“At the direction of Council, City leaders are continuing work on possible plans for repurposing the Market House. Over the last year, representatives from the United States Department of Justice and the Fayetteville-Cumberland Human Relations Commission have undergone an extensive process to collect diverse feedback and develop community-oriented recommendations for repurposing,” the release said. 

Fencing around the Market House, which surrounded it for nearly two years, has been taken down, Thursday, April 14, 2022.

The fate of the Market House, which sits in the heart of downtown in the center of a traffic circle emblazoned with murals reading “Black Lives Matters” and “End Racism Now,” has been much contested. Some want to see the building razed because of its past as a location where enslaved people were sold. Others would rather the space be repurposed as a museum or art center. 

Fencing around the Market House, which surrounded it for nearly two years, has been taken down and pedestrians can once again walk around the structure's first floor, Thursday, April 14, 2022.

When a fire was set at the building on May 30, 2020, it came on the heels of a day of peaceful marches in the city seeking justice in the killing of George Floyd. Floyd, a native of Fayetteville, died in Minneapolis police custody after an officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes.