Historic Resources Survey Of Downtown Boone To Begin

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*Press Release from The Town of Boone Historic Preservation Commission*

The Town of Boone Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) is pleased to announce that work will begin this month on a Historic Resources Survey of Downtown Boone. The survey area will roughly correspond to the boundaries of the Municipal Service District (MSD), but the survey will also include seven additional properties scattered throughout the community, including the Rivers House, Horn in the West, the Daniel Boone Gardens, and the Boone Cemetery. This survey is intended to gather essential information about the architectural and historical significance of the surveyed properties.

While a number of individual properties located within the municipal limits of Boone have been surveyed as part of the countywide surveys completed in 1989 and 2002, no comprehensive historic resources survey of Downtown Boone has ever been completed. In spite of numerous attempts by local residents, historical organizations, and the HPC since the 1970s, extensive background information on the architecture of Boone’s historic downtown has never been compiled either. The HPC anticipates that this survey will include approximately 110 survey—eligible properties located within the MSD and provide critically important documentation of the architecture and history of Boone’s downtown.

In addition, the survey will provide similar documentation on properties at risk for near—term development, as well as important background information for properties that may be eligible for local landmark designation, such as the Rivers House and Horn in the West. Historic resource surveys are often used by communities for long—range preservation planning, including the establishment of local landmarks and local historic districts. In addition, they are a vital tool in establishing interpretive programs that increase tourism and promote downtown businesses, including historic walking tours, historic plaque and marker programs, and exhibitions on local history.

Many North Carolina towns have seen important improvements to their downtown areas following this kind of survey work, including the nearby communities of West Jefferson, Valle Crucis, Morganton, and Black Mountain, and property owners typically see a stabilization of property values and increased investment in historic properties following historic district designation. In addition, owners of properties that are determined to be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places may qualify for state and federal tax credits for rehabilitation work completed on their historic properties, while owners of individually designated local landmarks may qualify for an annual 50% property tax deferral. This survey is being completed in keeping with the intermediate goals of the Boone Historic Preservation Commission approved by Town Council in 2014, as well as the survey proposal for this work approved by Town Council in July 2015.

A team of three survey technicians, coordinated by a local historic preservation firm, will complete site visits to the properties in question between September and December 2015. Team members will take photos of the exterior of each property, draw a site plan, and record notes. In some cases, they may ask to speak with the owner or tenant about the history of the property or ask to see the interior of the property to document its floor plan and historic significance. No member of the survey team will enter private property without permission from the owner or tenant. Members of the survey team will be employed and supervised by the Town of Boone, and they will carry appropriate identification. The local historic preservation form coordinating the survey is providing its services to the Town of Boone on a volunteer basis.

The HPC invites all Boone residents and property owners to attend a public information session about the survey process that will take place on Wednesday, September 23, 2015, from 5:00 to 7:00pm at the Watauga County Library. Guest speakers will include Annie McDonald from the North Carolina Historic Preservation Office and Lu Ann Welter from the City of Hendersonville. The results of the survey will be shared with the community at large at a second public information session in early 2016.

Image of the Boone Municipal Service District boundaries, courtesy of Town of Boone GIS.

Boone Municipal Service District boundaries

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