City seeks more info on 2nd Street house

Published 3:41 pm Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Washington’s City Council wants more information before deciding what to do with the house at 415 W. Second St.

During its meeting Monday, the council decided that information will include an engineer’s evaluation of the house, which the city owns. An engineer is scheduled to evaluate the structure Thursday at no cost to the city, according to Dee Congleton, a member of the Washington Area Historic Foundation. The foundation is one of several groups that want to preserve the house instead of seeing it demolished.

Several speakers urged the council to allow those groups — possibly Preservation NC and the Pamlico Rose Institute for Sustainable Communities — time to find options to tearing down the house.

Last week, the Historic Preservation Commission continued a request by the City of Washington for a certificate of appropriateness to remove a house so the Brown Library can expand.

The commission has 90 days from Dec. 13 to act on the city’s request. The commission made it clear it prefers the house at 415 W. Second St. be preserved and rehabilitated instead of being demolished, even if that preservation effort includes moving the house. The library has plans to expand the library to better accommodate the children’s library and add parking spaces.

Rebecca Clark, who lives in the historic district, said demolishing the house would be an injustice. Leonard Hubers and David Clark said it’s time to save the house.

Councilwoman Virginia Finnerty scoffed at a suggestion to move the house, saying moving the house would destroy it.

Henry Clay Carter IV, a cousin of the Henry Clay Carter who had the house built, made a plea to save the house. “It’s nice that my family’s house is, hopefully, going to be saved, but it’s more important for us to preserve a structure that represents time, place, a way of thinking and a way of living that represents Washington,” Carter said.

Councilman Doug Mercer suggested the council ask the commission to continue the city’s request for another month. “Then that would give this council to review that (engineer’s) report and take any action that we feel is appropriate after we have received that report,” Mercer said.

City Attorney Franz Holscher said the 90-day period to act on the city’s request could be extended if the city and commission mutually agree to do so. “You can revisit this in February with more information,” he told the council.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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