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June 2012, Issue 8
Historic Wilmington Foundation Releases Its 2012 Most Threatened List NC Historic Preservation Office logo
Hurricane Season 2012: Are you Prepared?
Discovering and Using Online Sanborn Maps NC Division of Historical Resources logo NC Department of Cultural Resources logo
Sondra L. Ward, Long-time Administrative Assistant of the HPO, Passes Away Visit Us At: Facebook logo Wordpress logo

For statewide event lists click here (HPO Facebook events list), here (Preservation North Carolina events list), or here (Courtesy of the Federation of NC Historical Societies).

Reid Thomas, restoration specialist in the Eastern Office of the NC HPO, will be awarded the Robert Lee Humber Award for Preservation Leadership by the Greenville Preservation Commission at their June 26 meeting. Congratulations, Reid!

Hillsborough has been named a Great Main Street by the NC Chapter of the American Planning Association. Click here for more information.

The Preservation Society of Asheville and Buncombe County presented its annual Griffin Awards on May 24 at the rehabilitated Oteen Center, now used by the Western Office of the Department of Cultural Resources. The NC Department of Transporation received an award for their design for the new Biltmore Avenue Bridge. Click here for more information and the full list of awardees.

The NC HPO has awarded a scholarship to the following historic preservation commissions to attend the 2012 National Alliance of Preservation Commissions' Annual Conference in Norfolk, Virginia, on July 18-22:

Each commission will receive $500, on a reimbursement basis, to use toward lodging and conference registration. Funding for the scholarships was made possible by the federal Historic Preservation Fund of the National Park Service, U. S. Department of the Interior.

On June 20, preservation commission training will be held at the NC Arboretum in Asheville. The APA has approved this training for 3 CM credits. Registration closes June 15. Click here for more information.

The Wilmington Historic Preservation Commission is hosting a Historic Preservation Workshop at the Bellamy Mansion Museum of History and Fine Arts in Wilmington on June 22. This training will count towards required annual CLG training. Click here for more information.

Lee and Helen George House (Catawba County), prepared by B. Keane, listed on 4/24/12

The Lee and Helen George House, constructed in 1951, is an intact early example of Modernist residential design by architect Aiji Tashiro, a Japanese-American architect and brother-in-law to Helen George. In its plan and organization of space, the house reflects the influence of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonian house design and was the first of its style to be built in Hickory.

Chapel Hill Church Tabernacle (Davidson County), prepared by L. Phillips, listed on 4/24/12

The Chapel Hill Church Tabernacle, a one-story, heavy-timber building open on three sides, was constructed in 1870 and enlarged in the mid-1920s. It was originally used for the religious services at the annual camp meetings held at Chapel Hill Church and is still used for that purpose during the revivals held every September.

Downtown Mount Holly Historic District (Gaston County), prepared by L. Phillips, listed on 4/24/12

The Downtown Mount Holly Historic District encompasses the historic commercial center of this town, whose economy during the period from ca. 1883 to 1960 was based primarily on the textile industry, which was facilitated by the dual presence of the Catawba River and its tributaries, and, since 1860, the railroad.

Ahoskie Historic District (Hertford County), prepared by H. Wagner, listed on 4/24/12

The Ahoskie Historic District encompasses approximately eighty blocks of Ahoskie, which due to its location on the railroad gained significance in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as the major commercial and industrial center of predominantly agricultural Hertford County. The district includes good representative examples of popular styles erected between ca. 1805 and 1962, the district’s period of significance.

Mooresville Mill Village Historic District (Iredell County), prepared by D. Taylor, listed on 4/24/12

As a dense concentration of more than 400 workers’ houses erected between ca. 1902 and ca. 1930 by the Mooresville Cotton Mill, the Mooresville Mill Village Historic District symbolizes the importance of the textile industry in Iredell County during the early twentieth century. The planned mill village, characterized by generally uniform lot sizes, setbacks, and a variety of basic house types, is substantially intact.

Historic Wilmington Foundation Releases Its 2012 Most Threatened Listby George Edwards

The purpose of the Foundation's Most Threatened Historic Places program is to focus attention on threatened sites and to illustrate the importance and benefits of historic preservation in our community. The program has helped raise public awareness of historic places as well as generate creative new solutions and ideas for sites in desperate need of attention. A threatened places program also helps the public understand the broad range of preservation concerns. Historic preservation is more than just saving a famous landmark; it is about preserving the old neighborhoods, schools, churches, cemeteries and commercial districts of the Cape Fear region's diverse population. Historic Wilmington Foundation President Don Britt said that, "Historic preservation has achieved more credibility and acceptance today than at any time since we were founded in 1966. However, we still need to work to educate the public and property owners on the advantages of rehabilitation versus demolition." Britt reinforced his comments by referencing the recent donation of preservation easements to the Foundation by the Wilmington Children's Museum. The easements will ensure that their complex will be enjoyed and used by future generations. Britt urged others to consider this option.

The public nomination process produced five new nominations and six resubmissions by the public from the Foundation's three county service area. Each nomination was thoroughly debated and given careful consideration. Diversity of property types, historical significance, geographic distribution and degree of threat were all factored into the selection process. The annual list is a proactive effort to generate more discussion about the value of heritage preservation.

The ongoing challenge for the Foundation is to create a list of endangered sites which best reflects current threats to the community's cultural, architectural and historical heritage. The Foundation's staff has seen fewer submissions the last two years, which may be a by-product of the slower economy and weaker development pressure. HWF Executive Director George Edwards stated, "However, the continuing pressure on historic buildings, plus the addition of new sites reminds us that we must remain vigilant and assertive with our advocacy and work to save our heritage. The Foundation's list, combined with the efforts of preservationists, concerned citizens and local government, will result in new success stories for these architectural and cultural treasures." Historic Wilmington also released a "watch list" of historic places they will monitor during the coming year.

Click here for the full list and here to see a status report for threatened properties from previous years.

Scott's Hill Rosenwald School, Pender County
Scott's Hill (Browntown) Rosenwald School, Pender County

Wood grave marker in Brunswick County
A wood grave marker in Brunswick County

Topsail School, Pender County
Topsail School, Pender County

Photographs courtesy of the Historic Wilmington Foundation.

Hurricane Season 2012: Are you Prepared?by Reid Thomas
Hurricane Irene damaged house
Hurricane Irene damage to the former Presbyterian Manse, Tarboro

House damaged by Hurrican Katrina
Volunteer assistance in Pass Christian, Mississippi, following Hurricane Katrina

Unfortunately, the best way to learn about storm preparation is to experience property damage to one's home. Hurricane force winds, tornados, flooding, hail and excessive rainfall from Hurricane Irene caused significant damage to several historic properties in North Carolina last August. While there is no way to be fully prepared for a disaster and recovery, steps that you take beforehand can help in reducing the potential for property damage, heartache, and frustration.

HPO staff members have provided technical assistance to dozens of historic property owners across the state who sustained damage to their homes and businesses following natural disasters. Staff has also volunteered with disaster recovery efforts and experienced property damage, like so many other owners of historic properties.

For information and tips for owners of damaged buildings, as well as guidance for preparing for natural disasters and recovery, click here to visit the HPO's disaster response webpage, or here to read the HPO report "The Importance of Planning for Disaster and Recovery."

Discovering and Using Online Sanborn Mapsby Andrew Edmonds

At the May 31st Historic Architecture Round Table (HART), I offered a presentation on Sanborn maps. While there are several places online to turn to for digital copies of these maps, I suggested that the University of North Carolina (UNC) web-based project, Going to the Show, is perhaps the most valuable of these resources.

Sanborn maps are enormously useful to a wide audience of historians and historic preservationists, genealogists, urban planners, geographers, and the general public. The Sanborn Map Company began creating large scale maps of urbanized areas in 1867 for the purpose of assessing liability to fires. As such, the maps reveal a dizzying amount of information. Building height and footprint, construction material, wall thickness, window placement, parcel boundary, building use and occupant, street name and width, location of gas and water mains, fire hydrants, and call boxes are but a few of the details one may glean from the maps.

North Carolinians benefit from three online collections. First, a library card is all you need to gain access to Digital Sanborn Maps: 1867-1970, a repository of 11,713 black and white maps from 158 North Carolina towns and cities. This is the most comprehensive collection in temporal and geographic scope. Each map may be viewed online or downloaded and printed.

UNC has many of these same maps in full color at their North Carolina Maps website, although copyright restricts UNC from displaying any map published more recently than 1922.

A second, and ultimately more usable, UNC website, Going to the Show, culls 750 full-color Sanborn maps published for 45 North Carolina towns between 1896 and 1922. Dr. Robert C. Allen, professor of American Studies, led a team that created a Google Map overlay for each town by a process called georeferencing. The team scanned each map, digitally stitched them together, and pinned this map collage to its real-world coordinates. The result? A town-wide, full-color Sanborn map whose transparency may be adjusted to see the contemporary aerial imagery beneath.

Benefits of using the Going to the Show website include:

  • Georeferenced = the maps line-up with Google Maps
  • Full color
  • Map legibility simplified by quick zoom
  • Easy to compare multiple years of Sanborn map information
  • Easy to compare historic and contemporary land use (opacity)
  • Save map extent and layer information / send to others (persistent URL)
  • Opens in Google Earth, as well

There are some weaknesses. The website is temporally limited, only allowing the users to view pre-1923 Sanborn maps. It is spatially limited, as well, only displaying maps for 45 towns and not always the entirety of the urbanized area from any given year. Also, the images are not downloadable as PDFs, unlike the Digital Sanborn Maps: 1867-1970 website's maps.

Still, Going to the Show is an incredible resource, both intuitive to use and powerful in its application. It is the first place I turn to when I need a Sanborn map.

Online resources:

Digital Sanborn Maps: 1867-1970

North Carolina Maps

Going to the Show

Going to the Show screen shot
1914 Sanborn Fire Insurance map of the 100 block of East Jones Street, Raleigh NC, as viewed within the Going to the Show website.

Bank One Stadium with Overlay
Bank One Stadium, in Charlotte, with a 1911 Sanborn map overlay, as viewed within the Going to the Show website.

Murphy  with overlay
Murphy with a 1921 Sanborn map overlay showing the Louisville and Nashville Railroad Passenger Station, as viewed within the Going to the Show website.

New Bern waterfront with overlay
The New Bern waterfront with a 1913 Sanborn map overlay, as viewed within the Going to the Show website.

Sondra L. Ward, Long-time Administrative Assistant of the HPO, Passes Away
Sondra L. Ward photo

Sondra L. Ward, long-time administrative assistant of the NC HPO, died on May 15, 2012 following several years of declining health. Sondra came to work for the Historic Sites Section in 1973, before the section became the HPO. A consummate office professional, she kept the business end of the HPO running smoothly for 26 years. She served as co-editor of the HPO newsletter, regional conference planner, and typist extraordinaire - before the days of word-processors. She will be greatly missed by all who knew her.

Click here to read her obituary.

Maggie Johnson, intern
Welcome to Our New Intern! Maggie Johnson is from Paducah, Kentucky, and graduated in May from UNC-Greensboro with a Master's of Science in Interior Architecture with a concentration in Historic Preservation. She received her undergraduate degree from Auburn University, where she studied Environmental Design and minored in Art History. Maggie appreciates all types/styles of architecture, but has a particular interest in post-war suburbs and buildings. Maggie will be assisting in a variety of capacities at the HPO.

A Notice from the HPO Photo Lab: Due to an increase in demand and the discontinuation of parts production and service for our print processor, as of July 1 the photo lab will cease processing conventional prints. The lab will continue to process black and white film, but will produce prints, including enlarged contacts, from scans of negatives instead of printing using the wet process. If there is any noticeable difference, it should be an improvement in print quality.