The ‘Badass” Historic Preservation Commission or Not! – Part 1

Buying property in a Historic District comes with certain responsibilities. “We are only the caretakers of these houses, which were here before we owned them and which will be here after we are gone. They contain the wood from the old-growth forests, they are monuments to the skill of those who labored to build them, they represent our cultural heritage.” – Jane Powell

 

You may not think of yourself as a preservationist, but at heart, most people are. In simple terms, historic preservation means safeguarding the existence and appearance of historic elements of the community. It’s not only a ‘bricks and mortar thing’  but a safeguard that preserves the context of our stories. We’ve all heard someone say, “It broke my heart when that building came down.” Charles Dunn’s Facebook page, Rocky Mount Way Back When fills an insatiable need we have to remain connected to our past.

In our hands, we hold a two-sided coin.  There is often real tension between those who favor preservation and those who see rehabilitation as an acceptable way of dealing with historic properties. The increase in investor and homeowner sales in our Historic Districts is exciting, a cause for celebration as we welcome all our new neighbors. My concern is that we find a shared language that communicates Rocky Mounts Historic District guidelines as a worthy and advantageous endeavor to a burgeoning group of young, hardworking investors, flippers, and contractors. We’re all addicted to HGTV and when Chip & Johanna Gaines find a problem that is going to cost them money, we groan. We want Rocky Mounts version of HGTV investors to be wildly successful and save money where they can, BUT, when you invest in a Historical District property, you take on an additional responsibility. You have to know and accept this UP FRONT.  In embracing the long view, you will see that you have embarked on important and exciting work that leaves your thumbprint on the preservation of Rocky Mount’s past and future.

We trust our Historic Preservation Commission to hold the line in protecting the character of the neighborhoods where people already live and expect that protection. If you don’t embrace the preservation angle in your heart, the Commission becomes a group of ‘badass’ folks out to make life difficult.  (An unfair label to hang on a dedicated group doing the job we have given them to do – preserving the integrity of our historic neighborhoods.)

I have written a version of a compelling objection that illustrates how tough it is to find a response both sympathetic to a problem blocking a Certificate of Appropriateness while remaining steadfast to the task set before the Historic Preservation Commission.

“Why are you insisting on these rules and regulations, when I’m the good guy here. I’m fixing an otherwise over-looked house that is spiraling downward. I am willing to put money into the project to improve the neighborhood. There’s a boarded up house, for heaven’s sake, next door.”

JOIN ME TOMORROW FOR PART TWO

 

 

Celebrating The Rocky Mount Historic Districts – Why They Are Important

Central City Historic District

There is a reason why Rocky Mount’s seven historic districts matter. Neighborhoods preserve the historic, architectural, and aesthetic character and heritage of a community. They provide a sense of place and continuity that not only contributes to community pride but to a better understanding of how the future can be shaped. Thus the by-line of Main Street Rocky Mount …Honoring the past, building a future. I’ve changed a thought of author Walker Percy’s to suit my purposes – It means you’re a person living  Somewhere not just Anywhere.

Can you name the districts?

Central City Historic District Edgemont Historic District
Falls Road Historic District – Lincoln Park Historic District
Rocky Mount Mills Village Historic District
Villa Place Historic District
West Haven National Historic District                                                                                 Edgemont Historic District

The National Register of Historic Places is our country’s official list of buildings, structures, objects, sites, and districts worthy of preservation for their significance in American history, architecture, archaeology, and culture. For a private owner, the chief practical benefit of National Register listing is eligibility for a federal and state investment tax credits that can be claimed against the cost of a certified rehabilitation of a historic building. The National Register was created by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 to recognize and protect properties of historic and cultural significance.

NEXT TIME – The Historic District of Westhaven

You may want to read:

Edgemont- A Jewel in Rocky Mount’s Crown -Part 1

Villa Place Historic District-Taking a Chance on Love -Part 1

Historical Vila Place District
Historical Edgemont District
Historical Rocky Mount Mill Village District