Preservation at its finest

Published 5:55 pm Monday, October 19, 2015

Months ago, North Carolina’s historic preservation tax credit was on the chopping block as legislators looked for ways to “fix” the North Carolina budget. The tax credits were reinstated during the tense wrangling between the N.C. House and Senate over an overdue budget.

As well they should be.

It is the nature of cities to change — it’s unavoidable. They may grow or populations may shrink; architectural styles change, as do popular neighborhoods to build a business or a home. But at the heart of any town is its history and sometimes that visual history can be erased by those aiming for the cheaper remodel as opposed to a historically accurate one. Older buildings and homes are a window to the past, one that shows the evolution of a town through architectural detail. This is why it’s so important to offer an incentive to property owners: by making restoration more affordable through tax credits, a town’s history is preserved, one property at a time.

It’s also important to recognize those who take the time, the energy and the money to restore their properties to historical preservation standards.

Recently, the City of Washington has done exactly that. City residents were asked to send in recommendations for the Rena K. Terrell awards for historic preservation of properties in three categories: commercial, residential and for a “Good Neighbor” project. Terrell, an East Main Street-er who was instrumental in guiding Washington’s historic preservation, understood the need to maintain the homes and commercial buildings in a way that would speak to the town’s history. The winners of those categories, one of which was featured in the Oct. 16 homes section of the Washington Daily News — Mary Anne Nunnally Foy, owner of the Coffee Caboose —  also understand that need.

It’s not only the city that should recognize those who make the extra effort to restore the right way. Every resident and visitor of Washington should do the same, because these days, as more and more strip malls, chain restaurants and stores and generic architecture homogenize every town in every U.S. state, Washington is preserving its history. Each home and business owner who restores, rather than renovates, is pitching in to the cause.

The remaining Rena K. Terrell award winners will be featured in the next two homes section.