28 July 2014

Historic Properties ... fewer and fewer as time goes by ...

NC Listing from Preservation Directory.com Historic Real Estate Listing Page

We often talk about preservation and access to documents, images, media files, buildings, land, etc.  Each has historical relevance.  As we also often discuss, it’s not possible to keep it all.  Documents and image files can take up lots of space, land usage might change from being a battlefield to those “needed” condos, buildings might deteriorate or need to pave way for a new hotel, etc.

We can only “keep” so much.  This came to mind yet again when reading my local newspaper on Sunday.  Within three pages, there were two articles about the possible sale and/or destruction of two pre-1850 inns.  The first article is State’s Oldest Surviving Inn Up For Sale (depending on outlet, piece titled Historic Western North Carolina hotel up for sale)

The inn has welcomed guests since 1833, the same year Yancey County was formed and a year before the town was established. The three-story clapboard colonial has 26 rooms and a large dining facility that could be a stand-alone restaurant.

Beginning in 1838, the inn mostly served travelers conducting business in the county seat. Later years brought a restaurant that locals remember fondly for its Southern cooking and family-style Sunday dinners.

Talk about history.  Imagine what those walls have heard.   Imagine how the accommodations and locales have changed through time.  These buildings are a part of a rich history.  Unfortunately, time has not been kind to either of them.  How do you assess what to keep and what to destroy?  Know that it is not enough to be listed on the
National Register of Historic Places

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation's historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archeological resources.

This designation is not a guarantee that a historic building will be preserved; it’s just a designation that a historic place is worthy of preservation.

This got me curious as to how many historic properties are at risk or are on the market.  The short answer is A LOT.

I stumbled across Preservation Directory.com and its historic real estate listing page. Preservation North Carolina also has a similar listing page for NC So many places, big and small, and what were religious, industrial, residential, and other types of structures, are all listed on the market.  The reality is that for many of these structures, if they are not sold, the might be torn down so that the land can be sold.

This is our reality.  It just makes the historic properties that we can continue to enjoy, all the sweeter.  Though we can grind our teeth over properties already lost or which will be lost imminently, I suggest that we celebrate every historic property still standing.  It takes a lot to keep any property viable, never mind a historic one.  When traveling, do visit historic properties.  Every historic property is a legacy left by our ancestors and reflects something about their lives.  Priceless.

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