Down with the round building on NCSU’s campus?

RALEIGH — The pie of a building that has bedeviled hundreds of thousands of N.C. State University students with its endless quirks and infuriating layout finally, it appears, will die.

N.C. State University is pulling together a detailed plan for tearing down Harrelson Hall, the endlessly flawed cylindrical building that has visually dominated the university’s outdoor social hub, the Brickyard, for more than half a century. The demolition likely would happen in the summer of 2016.

(Raleigh News & Observer, 4/23/14)

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HIGH POINT — Gov. Pat McCrory traveled to High Point Wednesday to call for state legislation to replace historic preservation tax credits that are set to expire.

McCrory said his upcoming budget proposal to state lawmakers will also include funds to revive the Main Street Solutions incentives program for small businesses.

Both measures are aimed at spurring the rehabilitation of old buildings and creating jobs. McCrory made his proposal in front of the former Pickett Cotton Mill in southwest High Point, which is set to be the new home of BuzziSpace, a Belgian furniture company.

(The High Point Enterprise, 4/23/14)

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Raleigh, NC - Governor Pat McCrory announced his support today for economic development programs designed to rehabilitate buildings all across North Carolina.

The governor said his budget will include matching grant funds for the Main Street Solutions Fund which funds rehabilitation efforts in smaller North Carolina towns. He also announced his support for legislation to replace the sun setting Historic Tax Credit.

Governor McCrory held his announcement in front of the former Pickett Cotton Mill that is soon to be the new home of BuzziSpace, a Belgium company known for its high-quality, green office furniture.

“Investing in North Carolina historic structures preserves our history and creates jobs. These programs make cultural and economic sense,” said Governor McCrory. “Old, abandoned mills and factories are becoming housing and business spaces that are sparking economic revitalization in towns and cities across our state. Historic revitalization means jobs, economic development and a rebirth of many downtowns. Companies are relocating to these spaces from across this great nation and from around the world.”

North Carolina is a leader in preserving its historic buildings and an example for many other states when they’re developing their own historic preservation investment programs. Since 1976, historic preservation incentives provided by the state and federal governments have helped bring in over $1.7 billion in private investment to the state while preserving North Carolina’s priceless historic character.

“I am so proud of Governor McCrory’s decision to promote the rehabilitation of historic buildings for proven economic development and job creation,” said Secretary Susan Kluttz of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources. “As a former mayor, he is extremely aware of the value of the re-use of empty and underused historic buildings and the positive impact their development has on communities, including saving fragile neighborhoods, revitalizing downtowns and improving public safety. This investment program is critical for rebuilding cities and towns in North Carolina and supporting the ‘Carolina Comeback’ that the governor has promised.” The Historic Rehabilitation Investment Program would be administered by the State Historic Preservation Office, a part of the Department of Cultural Resources.

The Historic Rehabilitation Investment Program is a demand-driven model in line with the governor’s Economic Development Board’s North Carolina Jobs Plan. The plan seeks to develop programs that provide local communities with the opportunity to thrive. Helping to invest in critical infrastructure to encourage economic growth is key to the Historic Rehabilitation Investment Program that supports the re-use of historic industrial-age infrastructure to be in line with the demands of a new economy.

The governor said his budget will include $500,000 for the Main Street Solutions Fund, a matching grant program established in 2009 to rehabilitate buildings in smaller towns. The Main Street Solutions Fund and the Historic Rehabilitation Investment Program strive to spur a renaissance in cities and towns reinventing themselves after the loss of long-time industries such as tobacco and manufacturing.

“There are few activities that are as job intensive and return more money to local communities than historic rehabilitation,” says Myrick Howard, president of Preservation North Carolina. “There is still much work to do, however, especially in smaller towns and distressed areas. We have high hopes for this new program.” Preservation North Carolina promotes and protects the buildings and landscapes of North Carolina’s diverse heritage.

“When one of these buildings is rehabilitated, it often has a ripple effect throughout a neighborhood and across a community, spurring investment in existing infrastructure and promoting infill development,” continued Governor McCrory.

Historic rehabilitation projects have taken place in 90 of North Carolina’s 100 counties. These programs historically have added jobs, during and post-construction, in North Carolina as empty buildings gain new purposes.

From the Office of Governor McCrory, 4/23/14

See more here.

The announcement will be made at High Point’s Pickett Cotton Mill, which is being adaptively reused as a furniture factory. The Belgian-based company BuzziSpace Inc. is upfitting the location.

McCrory came to High Point in February when BuzziSpace unveiled plans to create 113 jobs and invest more than $1.75 million over the next five years. The company designs and makes workspace furniture, acoustical treatments, fabrics and wallpaper.

(High Point Enterprise, 4/23/14)

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With the 2014 General Assembly less than a month from session, the City of Wilmington has updated its legislative agenda to support not only the threatened film tax credit, but a second set of credits locals say are a major player in historic character.

The state’s Historic Preservation Tax Credits–set to expire at the end of this year–are incentives for the private rehabilitation of old structures across North Carolina. Officials say Wilmington, being the hive of history that it is, has benefited greatly under the program.

(4/18/14, PortCityDaily)

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Activists in the world of historic preservation have long staked a claim to rescuing architecturally important train stations, government buildings and private estates. Many now are shifting their focus to saving vestiges of America’s industrial past, mainly old mills and factories.

Some examples of their work can be found in North Carolina. Under a state tax-credit program pushed by preservationists, real-estate developers are rehabilitating aging textile mills and tobacco factories and transforming them into modern offices and research labs.

The old plants are worth preserving because they represent North Carolina’s “industrialization at the turn of the 20th century,” said Myrick Howard, president of Preservation North Carolina. “The textile and tobacco industries provided the capital for the rise of our modern banking and energy industries.”

A big user of the tax-credit program is Wexford Science & Technology, a unit of San Diego-based BioMed Realty Trust Inc., BMR +0.44% which has renovated three former R.J. Reynolds tobacco factories in Winston-Salem. The old tobacco factories are part of the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter biomedical-science and information-technology hub, where researchers are working on treatments for smoking-related ailments.

“It’s really kind of ironic that they’re able to convert [former tobacco factories] into research and knowledge-oriented businesses” that could make Americans healthier, said Daniel Cramer, senior vice president of development for Wexford.

Wexford, which builds and manages university research parks and health-care facilities, began rehabilitation work last week on a former Chesterfield cigarette factory in Durham that will become a multitenant research center. The seven-story, 300,000-square-foot brick building was once part of the Liggett & Myers Tobacco Co. complex. Wexford purchased the building for $7.5 million late last year. The company declined to say how much the rehabilitation would cost, noting that will largely depend on what tenants it signs. The Chesterfield brand—whose past spokesmen include former President Ronald Reagan—still exists but was sold to Philip Morris, now part of Altria Group, in 1999.

North Carolina mills and factories began emptying out two decades ago due to rising imports and worker-displacing technology. Hoping to retain pieces of the state’s manufacturing history while also sparking an economic revival, the state passed a “mill rehabilitation tax credit” in 2006. It can be used by developers that rehabilitate former manufacturing space in certified historic structures that had been at least 80% vacant for two or more years.

Companies that qualify for the tax credit can reduce the costs of rehabilitation by up to 60% when they combine the state mills-rehabilitation tax credit with a federal historic-preservation tax credit.

Other mill renovations under way in North Carolina include that of the former Loray textile mill in Gastonia, for $64 million. It will become a mixed-use center with commercial and office space, topped by apartments. A $44 million first phase of renovation is expected to be completed this summer. The development is being done by Historic Preservation Partners LLC.

North Carolina’s tax credit has driven $559.6 million of completed renovations of 26 old manufacturing facilities since 2006, according to the North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office. Currently, there are 28 proposed or ongoing renovations as companies rush to apply for the program before it expires Jan. 1, 2015. Mr. Howard expects the credit will be extended in some form.

Absent the credit, most companies would prefer to build new, especially in states like North Carolina where land is plentiful, said Wexford’s Mr. Cramer. “We could have built new buildings,” he said. “But the economic benefits to these tax credits are strong enough that you wouldn’t really choose to do new construction unless you had to.”

Write to Donna Kardos Yesalavich at

From The Wall Street Journal, 4/16/2014

Click here to access the article.

An old warehouse in downtown Raleigh could soon become the home of a charter school, a grocery store or rental housing.

Members of a City Council committee have asked that staff release a request for proposal (RFP) for the Stone’s Warehouse property, located on East Davie Street near East Street.

The city owns the property, which means the RFP can reflect exactly how the city wants the site to be developed. City staff estimate the RFP will be released in June.

The RFP will be sent to the seven firms that responded to a Request for Expressions of Interest issued by the city in January. During the Expressions of Interest process, each firm proposed ideas for the site, but in a less detailed and formal manner than required by an RFP.

At Tuesday’s Budget and Economic Development Committee meeting, city planning staff asked for direction about what should be included in the RFP.

(Raleigh Public Record, 4/10/14)

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PINEHURST – The Village Council voted 4-1 Tuesday to decrease the size of the village’s Historic Preservation Commission from seven to five members and ended the terms of two long-term members of the commission.

The council and commission were at odds in 2012 over the council’s decision to make changes to the historic Village Green, which were finished last year. The commission voted not to approve the revisions, but the council appealed and the Board of Adjustment ruled in the council’s favor.

Mayor Nancy Roy Fiorillo said after the meeting Tuesday that the decisions regarding the commission were “absolutely not” related to the dispute.

“We’re just trying to get to a clean starting point where we can move forward,” she said. “Sometimes the council has to make tough decisions.”

The two commission members whose terms the council ended – Nancy Smith and Frank Thigpen – had both served more than six years, the maximum allowed under village rules. The council had voted to extend their service during the dispute, Fiorillo said.

 (The Fayetteville Observer, 4/9/14)

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CHAPEL HILL – A local couple wants to tear down a house at 704 Gimghoul Road – in one of the town’s oldest historic districts – and build a family house in its place.

The town’s Historic District Commission will consider the request at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Chapel Hill Public Library. The commission can delay plans for up to a year while negotiating with property owners.

“You always hope the owner will take care of historic structures, restore them and maintain them,” commission Chairman Joseph Reckford said. “If a person is determined to knock down a house, they will be able to without delay.”

Mimi Hock said she and her husband, Tanner Hock, became friends with the previous owners, Shirley and Robert Bacon, and bought the late 1920s house in 2012. Orange County records show the Hocks paid $635,000.

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(Chapel Hill News, 3/12/14)

RALEIGH, N.C. – Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane hopes a modern home under construction in Historic Oakwood is not torn down, despite orders from a city board for just that to happen.

In a closed-door meeting on Tuesday, Raleigh city councilors considered appealing a Board of Adjustment ruling that a home under construction in the 500 block of Euclid Street be torn down because it’s too contemporary.

“This is the first time we’ve ever had this outcome, so we’re really taking a close look at all of those processes to determine why we ended up here when we haven’t had that before,” Mayor McFarlane said. “Clearly, this is a difficult situation. We want to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

The mayor would not discuss the legal details that were considered in closed session, but hinted the controversial house could stay put.

“I would certainly hope they would not have to tear down the house,” McFarlane said.

Last September, the Raleigh Historic Development Commission awarded married couple Louis Cherry and Marsha Gordon a certificate of appropriateness, so construction on their new home could begin.

Read full story and watch video here.

(WNCN, 3/18/14)

RALEIGH (WTVD) — A meeting of those in charge of preserving the history of Raleigh’s Oakwood neighborhood was held Thursday evening.

On the agenda was a controversial modern-style home going up, which is causing a stir in the community. It’s also an issue that has gotten the attention of many who live outside of Oakwood as well.

That meeting was closed to the media. Organizers did tell ABC11 that they were going to talk about the home, but they wouldn’t comment further.

One man with Preservation North Carolina worries it could be more.

Building supplies at the home on Euclid Street will soon sit idle when the build comes to a halt. The City of Raleigh is waiting for the written version of the decision made Monday with the Board of Adjustment to stop construction.

Some neighbors of the home said it is too modern for the historic district, so they took that concern to the city.

It’s an issue that has since gone beyond Oakwood with people weighing in on social media. It may even go beyond Raleigh.

“If it can be done here in Raleigh, it means it can be done in Statesville, Charlotte or Beaufort,” said Myrick Howard with Preservation North Carolina.

Read full story & watch video here.

(WTVD, 3/13/14)

RALEIGH – Armed with new appraisals and environmental studies, Raleigh and state officials are restarting negotiations this week on an agreement to turn the 325-acre Dorothea Dix property into a park.

The goal is to craft a new deal to sell or lease the former psychiatric hospital campus to Raleigh, after Republican state legislators tried last year to revoke the lease signed by then-Gov. Bev Perdue in 2012. Gov. Pat McCrory brokered a “standstill agreement” that gave the city and state a year to come up with a new arrangement to replace the lease.

The latest round of negotiations couldn’t start until studies of the property’s value and possible environmental contamination were complete. The environmental assessment arrived this month, and the first meeting with state officials took place Monday.

“I’m just happy we’re moving forward with the process,” Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane said. “We’ve got all the numbers in that we need, and now it’s just a matter of sitting down and talking through it.”

(Raleigh News & Observer, 3/11/14)

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RALEIGH – Architect Louis Cherry will be forced to stop construction on his controversial modernist home in the Oakwood neighborhood – five months after the city issued his building permit.

The “stop work” order likely will come in the next few days. The city Board of Adjustment finalized its ruling against the house Monday. The board had voted 3-2 last month to overturn the Raleigh Historic Development Commission’s approval for the house on Euclid Street.

Oakwood residents are bitterly divided over whether Cherry’s home is appropriate for the historic district. Cherry’s across-the-street neighbor, Gail Wiesner, has led the opposition, calling the design “garishly inappropriate” and saying it towers over its neighbors.

But other neighbors, as well as some historic preservationists, say the city’s guidelines aren’t intended to keep out new architecture. They’re asking city leaders to appeal the Board of Adjustment ruling to Wake County Superior Court.

If the ruling stands, Cherry would have to tear down the nearly complete house, which preservationists say would gut the power of historic guidelines and the commissions that enforce them throughout North Carolina.

The Raleigh City Council will decide later this month whether to appeal or leave the next move to Cherry. But on Monday, city attorney Dorothy Leapley voiced legal qualms with the Board of Adjustment’s action.

Leapley said the board failed to establish whether Wiesner has the right to challenge Cherry’s permits. She said Wiesner would need to offer proof that her property value will be affected – something that didn’t happen during Board of Adjustment hearings.

“The courts said simply living across the street wasn’t good enough in itself,” Leapley said.

Leapley said Wiesner’s role is among several issues the board failed to resolve. The attorney also said the ruling needs to be based on the “physical environment” of the entire Oakwood neighborhood, not individual streets or homes.

“The city’s concerns at this point are whether there are procedural problems in what happened before the board previously,” Leapley said. “What the city is suggesting is that (Cherry and Wiesner) need clear guidance.”

But the Board of Adjustment declined to make any major changes to its formal ruling. “If people think we committed errors of law,” Chairman Charles Coble said, “that’s for the superior court to hear.”

The board also rejected claims from Cherry’s attorney that the city code requires a supermajority – four votes – to overturn a historic commission ruling.

“I think it gives us a way out of this morass,” said Cherry’s attorney, Nick Fountain.

But the board’s attorney, John Silverstein, said a state law passed last year requires only a simple majority, and it takes precedence over any city rules.

After Monday’s action, Fountain said he expects city officials will revoke Cherry’s building permits within days. Crews will then secure the site and protect the building materials from the elements, because a court appeal could take months. Fountain said his client hasn’t decided whether to take the matter to court or return to the historic commission with a revised design.

Raleigh News & Observer, 3/10/14

New Bern – New Bern is well known for its rich history and beautiful historic landmarks. For the true history buff and preservation nut looking for a project, one of the well-known historic homes could be yours.

In 2012, the Tryon Palace Council of Friends listed the Coor-Gaston House and the William Hollister House. The Coor-Gaston House has been purchased, but the Hollister House is still on the market, listed at $225,000.

For former president of the Council of Friends, Patricia Naumann, the decision to sell the two homes was not made lightly.

“Those two properties, one was purchased by the foundation and the Coor-Gaston House was a gift. The concept behind getting those two properties was that they would be restored and they would be transferred to the state,” she said. “That did not happen, and we held onto them for quite a while. It was determined because of the financial situation and the viability, when we were looking at what we could do to improve the financial situation and spend more of our money supporting Tryon Palace and their existing programming, it was determined that we would sell those properties.”

(NC Coast, 3/2014)

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RALEIGH – No steering wheel was needed to guide one of Raleigh’s oldest houses to its new site Tuesday. A high-tech moving crew kept the two-centuries-old building rolling smoothly with just a remote control.

The Crabtree Jones House had stood on a hill facing what is now Wake Forest Road since about 1795. In recent decades, it has been shrouded by woods from the road and its neighbors, which today includes a Trader Joe’s grocery.

But since developers announced plans for 243 apartments on the site, nonprofit Preservation North Carolina has been working to get the house shifted to the adjacent Crabtree Heights neighborhood.

With developers footing the bill, the preservationists called on third-generation house mover Mike Blake of Greensboro. Blake has designed a computer system that uses hydraulic pumps to keep houses balanced as they move. He says that a full glass of water could sit on a windowsill during the process without spilling a drop.

(Raleigh News & Observer, 2/4/14)

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Asheville – The local historic home of Lillian Exum Clement Stafford, the first woman elected to the North Carolina General Assembly, is now protected by a preservation easement. Here’s the press release from the Preservation Society of Asheville and Buncombe County:

The historic Lillian Exum Clement house at 34 Hollywood Street will be forever protected by a donation of a preservation easement to the Preservation Society of Asheville and Buncombe County. Wingate Anders of Greensboro, NC, owner of the historic house and widower of Lillian’s only daughter, made the donation of the easement to ensure the protection and preservation of this noteworthy historic site.

“We feel this house represents history important to Asheville, Buncombe County and the state,” said Anders. “It was the home of Lillian Exum Clement Stafford, a female lawyer with an independent law practice at a time when few women held any significant type of job outside of the home.”

The house, located in the Chestnut Hill National Register Historic District, was built in 1914 by George Clement, Lillian’s father. Lillian is noted for being the first woman elected to the North Carolina General Assembly and the first woman to serve in any state legislature in the Southern United States.

(Mountain Xpress, 1/31/14)

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Raleigh – Weeber, who moved to Raleigh’s historic Oakwood neighborhood nearly two decades ago, was drawn to the district’s charm and architecture.

“I wanted to live in a neighborhood where I didn’t have to live near modern houses,” Weeber said. “They have their own place, but not in this neighborhood.”

Around the corner, Marsha Gordon’s vision for her own dream home is taking shape, leading her to build a more modern foundation on the historic area.

“This is absolutely our dream house,” Gordon said. “We chose to build it in this neighborhood. We love Oakwood.”

But three months after the foundation was poured, Raleigh’s Board of Adjustment voted to reverse the certificate of appropriateness Gordon received from the Raleigh Historic Development Commission, which might halt construction on the home.

(WRAL, 3/6/14)

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Hendersonville – Hendersonville leaders will be asked to take up a subject of long debate during a City Council meeting Thursday – the future of the Grey Hosiery Mill property. But this time, a sense of urgency fills the air as a state tax credit that enticed prospective developers in the past is set to expire later in the year.

Hendersonville City Manager John Connet plans to update the council on discussions he has had with groups interested in redeveloping the property, noted to be the last remaining relic of industrial buildings within city limits.

Preservation North Carolina, a nonprofit statewide historic preservation organization, and a new prospective developer have both shown interest in the property, according to Connet.

Preservation N.C. has built a reputation across the state and nation for promoting and protecting historic properties. The group has a knack for connecting decaying properties, whose dreams of development have fallen through the cracks, with developers who give the sites new life, according to Connet.

(Times-News, 3/6/14)

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RALEIGH — The answer to when exactly the historic Crabtree Jones House was built may be ingrained in its own beams and planks.

Preservationists long have said the house dates back to around 1795, but they hope to pinpoint a more exact date by studying the tree rings found in the wood of the house, a technique known as dendrochronology.

The rings are a fingerprint of sorts that show how a tree grew and can indicate when it was cut down, offering a valuable clue about when its wood was used in construction.

With that information, preservationists hope to learn more about when the original Crabtree Jones House and its additions were built.

The house takes its name from early Raleigh settler Nathaniel “Crabtree” Jones, who is thought to have built it and who was active in local and state politics.

The more information preservationists have about the house itself, the better they say they can understand how people lived in it – and in Raleigh and North Carolina as well.

“It will help us tell a richer, fuller story of the Jones family’s lives,” said Robert Parrott, Jr., interim regional director of nonprofit Preservation North Carolina, which currently owns the house.

Of particular interest are the house’s additions. In some cases, it’s obvious where the house was added on to – in a bathroom with an exterior wall facing inward, for example.

But, it’s not always clear when the additions were made or why.

With better information about dates and further research into the period, the preservationists can better understand the culture of the time, said Lauren Werner, director of education outreach at the nonprofit.

In this case, the information might reveal who was keeping up with the Joneses, or who the Joneses themselves were watching and emulating.

In February, the historic Federal-style house was moved from its location on a wooded hilltop off Wake Forest Road to a new site about 700 feet away in the Crabtree Heights neighborhood, to make room for a new apartment complex.


Tree ring data

Mick Worthington, a dendrochronologist with the Oxford Tree-Ring Laboratory, started taking samples from the house at its new location last week.

He’s in search of unique tree ring sequences that can be compared to existing samples to determine when the tree that produced the wood was cut down.

Trees typically produce a new layer of growth, or a ring, under their bark each year that varies in size based on conditions such as rainfall and temperature. A good growing year generally produces a wider ring than a less favorable one.

If there are enough rings in the wood, the pattern can be compared against the pattern in samples where the dates already are known. Once the date the tree was felled is known, other sources can be used to determine whether the wood likely would have been used immediately.

Worthington plans to take about 10 samples from three areas of the house to help date its construction. The samples are cores of wood that look like drumsticks or pencils. Ideally, each will show at least 50 years of growth and include a bark edge for the most accurate dating.

Worthington, who has worked on buildings in England and across the U.S., said that people generally seek his services because they want to know more about a place that intrigues them.

“It’s just a house with a good story,” he said.

The Crabtree Jones House is currently on the market for $350,000 with rehabilitation expected to cost an additional $400,000 to $450,000. Buyers must agree to rehab the house with some restrictions to ensure its historic nature.

But the goal is to have a family living there once again.

“We would love for it to be used as a private residence again. ” Werner said.

The nonprofit plans to host an open house sometime this spring.

Raleigh News & Observer, 2/28/14

Big house plans for Small Street

Pittsboro – The oldest house in Pittsboro has a new site – South Small Street – and new owners – Ray and Janet Carney – who intend to give the grand old dame a new lease on life. Considering the Patrick Saint Lawrence house has been moved three times over the past 225 years, she deserves some good hands restoring her now.

The house was built in 1787 on the old courthouse square as an inn and residence by and for Patrick Saint Lawrence, an entrepreneur and one of Pittsboro’s original town commissioners. The old courthouse square had 125 lots surrounding it for homes and retail. Eventually the retail and expansion of government services saw the houses moved or repurposed.

The Patrick St. Lawrence house was moved around 1907, again in 1955 and most recently in 2011, in each case to allow expansions of Chatham County facilities, according to Lauren Werner, Director of Education Outreach for Preservation North Carolina.

The house has a paneled wall in its front hall that has hinges allowing it to be hoisted to the ceiling to transform the large front parlor into a ballroom with the wide front staircase as the perfect place from which to make a grand entrance. Adjacent, smaller, main-floor parlors allow intimate conversations and a place to rest from the festivities of the ballroom.

The cost of building such a house in the late 1700s, possibly the only one of its kind in North Carolina, may have led to Lawrence’s fiscal demise a few years after his home’s completion, according to the background story on Preservation North Carolina’s Website ( click on “Buy Properties” then “Historic Properties for Sale” then “Terry-Taylor house” then in body of text “Patrick St. Lawrence house”).

The Carneys, who purchased the house for $40,000 from Preservation North Carolina, say they won’t have the original owner’s fiscal problem restoring the house today because they have 30 years experience in restoring and renovating period homes in western New York state where Ray has worked as a vocational teacher of carpentry and cabinet making in the public school system and his wife has made her career as owner of Carney’s Antiques and Upholsterer.

Her shop is in one of the two commercial buildings the Carneys have restored. The couple currently lives in Wyoming, New York, in one of the three period houses they have restored. They have also restored a unique 1840′s barn for use as an antique store.

All of this while Ray has concurrently built new homes through his day job as a vocational teacher and Janet has restored antique furniture and painted and wallpapered homes and helped her husband restore vintage cars.

“I’m restoring a 1934 Ford coupe right now with a flat-end mercury engine in it,” Ray said. “Janet does the upholstery.”

The Syracuse University basketball fans say they enjoy keeping busy, especially doing things that will bring in extra income as a bonus. They are selling one of the Corvettes they’ve restored to defray the cost of their Patrick Saint Lawrence house purchase.

By day, Ray teaches in what he says is one of the nicest mill shops in New York state for cabinet and stair making. In addition to public school students, many home-schooled children in the Wyoming, NY area attend Carney’s classes.

Carney and his students go out on site and build homes. The land and materials are the home owner’s responsibility. Carney says the customer pays everything but the teacher’s wage. Carney teaches the students to read and work from architectural blueprints. Last year they completed a 3,800-square-foot home; and this year one of 2,500 square feet is under construction.

We used to take the school kids to Home-a-rama, where they would build a house in a new development and real estate agents would sell the houses as “spec” houses,” Carney explained. “We didn’t feel the excesses or the demise in the housing industry as much as some other markets. But our economy was a straight-line for several years. This year we put kids into the carpenter union for the first time in three-and-a-half years. They are looking for people now.”

Carney estimates that his restored 1820 Federal transition house in New York has a value of $170,000, but he says he can’t complain because he got the house for “free” although he had to tear off the second story board-by-board in order to move the house to its present 3-plus-acre location. The boards had to be numbered so as to be reconstructed at the home’s new site. He managed to save all the fireplaces in his New York home and plans to do the same and then some for the Patrick Saint Lawrence house.

The Pittsboro house, which now has three fireplaces, will when the Carneys are finished, once again have six fireplaces and a 24-foot, two-stack front porch with pillars. The Carneys have been looking at historic photos of the house and would appreciate more from anyone who has old photos of what has been called “The Old Yellow House” because of exterior yellow paint on the siding since the early 1800s. Photos could be sent digitally to or actual photos to Lauren Werner, Preservation NC, PO Box 27644, Raleigh, NC 27611.

Upon inspecting the house himself, Carney found mortise pockets for the beams of the original porch and evidence of where corner fireplaces were in upstairs bedrooms. The Carneys are working with Preservation North Carolina to figure out what styling the porch railings would have been. The original lathe and plaster walls were removed during the home’s prior moves. The Carneys will replace the current walls with blueboard, which is a form of drywall that requires a coat of plaster to finish it. The couple believes the floors are the original heart pine. The woodwork, also original, has been painted white over the years.

Janet scraped layers of white paint off the paneled wood down to the original faux grain-paint (see inset photo). She plans on scraping the wood panels and trim throughout the house to restore it to its original paint motif.

The paint on the unpainted newel post was removed by the previous owner and the Carneys could not find any evidence of graining or “Faux Finish” on this newel post that appears to be made of English oak. There are three newel posts on the balance of the balustrade system and Janet says she will scrape them to determine the original finish treatment for the rail system.

“I will scrape right down to the faux paint and not go any further,” Janet said. We’ve been doing this for the past 30 years. This house is the perfect fit for us, really.”

“We won’t get very many surprises, because we know what we are getting into,” Ray said. “The home we live in right now was moved, so we’re used to living in one or two rooms until the others get done.”

The Carneys estimate that it will take four years to restore the Patrick Saint Lawrence house, including the fireplaces, electrical, plumbing and heating. The first order of business will be to put a new roof on the house during their 2013 Easter vacation. Carney says his son and a couple of other friends will put tan architectural shingles on the house to mimic the original wood shingles.

Ray Carney says he will be 64 when he retires next spring. He decided he wanted to do one last house restoration during his retirement.

“I made the mistake of telling him a couple of years ago that I had enough energy to do one more,” Janet said. “I didn’t think we would go quite this large, but I’m up for it. I’m excited. We make a good combination because he has building skills, and I have the interior design. I upholster furniture, wallpaper professionally and paint.”

They chose North Carolina because of its central location between family in New York and Florida and because Carney has a brother living in the Charlotte area. The Carneys found the Preservation North Carolina Website last year and started looking.

They chose Pittsboro after a trip to the Triangle where they spent four days in a hotel in Raleigh and took daytrips looking for a house they could remodel in a location where they could walk to a downtown with shops.

“Pittsboro is a super place,” Ray said. “The people were so nice and friendly. And when you do get a chance to get in the house and see the wood, you couldn’t reproduce it now. We were sold.”

The house is on a quarter-acre lot, which is not large by the Carneys’ standards. Janet plans to put a formal garden in the back yard. The house is a generation earlier than the house in which they currently live, due south between Rochester and Buffalo.

“We want to do the (Pittsboro) house justice,” Janet said. “It is 225 years old and we are going to put it back like it was. The color of the house will stay the same color it has always been. Once we get down there and can really get to work, things will go pretty fast.

“We enjoy history and old fashioned homes,” Ray said. “We have put houses back to their original beauty. We want them the way they were built originally, but with enough modern amenities so that they are enjoyable places to live. There is a lot of handwork and I have the hand planes to do the work.”

“It may not be 1787 (when finished), but it will be 1800 to 1820,” Ray said, “It is a Georgian style coming into the Federal period. And we have the best antique and reproduction furniture. The house will be set up like it was.” For example, in the large room at the top of the stairs, Janet plans to place a faux-finished grandfather clock from the early 1800′s, a Chippendale style settee, and an early chest of drawers. There will also be several oil paintings or reverse painted Federal mirrors.

While Preservation North Carolina appears to have gotten a gem in Ray and Janet Carney buying the Patrick Saint Lawrence house, the organization is still looking for families to buy the adjacent homes, the McClenahan House and the Terry-Taylor House, which stand as bookends to the Patrick Saint Lawrence house on South Small Street.

The houses, both of which require complete rehabilitation, are priced at $30,000 each through Preservation NC. All of these homes are within Pittsboro’s Historic District and eligible for historic preservation tax credits. Their location on South Small Street allows them to be used as private residence, retail or office space. Pittsboro is 30 minutes south of Chapel Hill and 40 minutes west of Research Triangle Park. It is also adjacent to the State’s newest Natural Area – 960 acres along the scenic Haw River and 20 minutes from Jordan Lake State Park.

For more information contact Cathleen Turner, Regional Director of Preservation NC’s Piedmont Regional Office at 919-401-8540 or Please include your name, mailing address, and name of property in the e-mail.

(Chapel Hill News, 2/17/2014)



The Mount Airy Downtown Inc. design committee has decided to approach the organization’s full board of directors to request the local historic district be expanded to include the downtown area.

Main Street Coordinator Lizzie Morrison said told the design committee Tuesday such an expansion would help to enforce good design practices and allow MAD to use historic district design guidelines in order to assist with facade grants for downtown businesses.

Amanda Yarboro, who is a member of the MAD design committee as well as a commissioner-appointed member of the Mount Airy Historic Preservation Commission, told the board that most downtown areas in North Carolina area are already incorporated into the local historic districts.

Yarboro assured the board that the local historic district would be separate from the National Register of Historic Places. Right now, the local historic district ends at W. Pine Street, at the beginning of the south end of the downtown area.

(Mount Airy News, 2/12/14)

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