What’s worth preserving

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  1. Terri

     /  January 23, 2018

    I enthusiastically support the hiring of a preservationist. But I also think Chapel Hill needs to lead the way in changing the way we think about historic preservation. Right now, we preserve architecture. But what if we turned that slightly and combined not just architecture but also the sense of local neighborhoods/districts that have historical significance to the town.

    For example, under current law, there is no way to preserve Northside. I’m not talking about keeping students out, I’m talking about history.

    Northside/Sunset/Potters Field was home to a thriving black business district, home of the black workers at the University after the Civil War. Why wouldn’t we want the citizens of future Chapel Hill to know and experience some of that history. Thankfully that’s happening through the Jackson Center.

    Down MLK, there’s a small neighborhood of ranch houses that was our first real suburb, built to house the veterans of WWII who came to attend and work at UNC. Is it worth preserving, even though it is not grand architecture?

    How to we balance preservation with the needs of the present?

    So many important questions that don’t get addressed.

  2. Deborah Fulghieri

     /  January 23, 2018

    I am always impressed with Hillsborough’s many historic markers, which are worth a walk through town to read. Why does Chapel Hill have so few (only 2 that I can find)?

  3. Nancy

     /  January 27, 2018

    Terri, the HDC is charged with preserving the “special character” of historic districts and frequently makes the argument to applicants that the spacious lawns contribute to the historic character. But the commissioners have no one on staff to back them up. The neighborhood of brick ranches you mentioned is probably Elkin Hills, and the neighbors fought long and hard to gain Neighborhood Conservation District status. Even so, the council at the time approved “accessory dwellings” of up to 1,000 sft, in a neighborhood where many of the existing houses aren’t that big.

  4. Bob Epting

     /  January 30, 2018

    Thanks Nancy for your excellent summary of the importance of the work of the Historic District Commission.

    Bob Epting
    HDC Chair

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