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City hears from preservation experts

Whiteville is a prime location for several historic districts, according to a State Historic Preservation Office specialist.

Beth King and Claudia Brown briefed the Whiteville City Council April 24 on the recently completed survey of 1,000 potential historic district properties in the city. Of the 1,000, more than two-thirds are in concentrated areas that could benefit from historic district status, while others are scattered and could gain the recognition on their own.

Properties in federally-recognized Historic Districts are eligible for tax credits as well as protection and consideration in any federally funded development project, such as highways.

King surprised several members of the council with details about what the SHPO calls “Principal’s Row,” a neighborhood of late 19thand early 20thcentury homes owned by school principals and educators in the Edgewood area. Several of the properties display classic architectural details as well as some unusual craftsman touches, King said, and the neighborhood itself is unusual because it attracted so many educators over an extended period of time.

“That’s fascinating,” Councilman Justin Smith said. “I’ve lived here all my life, and I had no idea.”

The “historic core” of Whiteville, King said, stretches from beyond Pinkney to Soles Swamp. The outline of the areas in question roughly follows an area bounded by Pinkney, Washington Street to the 701 Bypass,  Franklin Street, and Lee, and contains more than 600 structures that could qualify. Multiple structures in that area meet the requirements of being a minimum of 50 years old, with significant historic merit or architecture. Other properties in the city could qualify, but lie outside the concentrated zones that could become historic districts. Those homeowners would have to seek recognition individually, King explained.

While most of the properties that could qualify for historic district status are along Pinkney and Madison, city officials have been focused on gaining recognition for the downtown business district, in hopes of attracting redevelopment. The major tax credits involved in reusing both commercial buildings and residential structures is a big incentive to seek the National Historic District status, King said.

Stuart Rogers