Handlebar survey highlights possible historic landmarks

by Cole Dittmer
Wednesday, January 16, 2013

During the summer of 2012, Wrightsville Beach resident Karen Dunn voluntarily completed a survey of all homes within the Wrightsville Beach town limits that could be designated as a historic landmark. Dunn presented her catalogued findings in a comprehensive spreadsheet with photographs to the Wrightsville Beach Historic Landmark Commission at its meeting on Monday, Jan. 15. 

Dunn said she initially began her survey in collaboration with the North Carolina Coastal Federation to find a historic home the federation could relocate and use as an office. However, when the owners of the Palmgren-O’Quinn house on South Channel Drive agreed to donate the home for that purpose, Dunn decided to provide the town of Wrightsville Beach with her findings. 

In her field study, which took place during July and August 2012, Dunn found 345 homes that appeared to meet the town's historic designation requirement, a minimum of 50 years old. Fifty-six of those were already historically designated by the town. In addition to providing the name, address and a picture of each home, Dunn also provided notes about homes that were for sale or were demolished for a new construction. 

Dunn said she hoped the town could use the list as a starting point to develop a comprehensive referential guide for all potentially designated structures. With that guide, Dunn said the town could either approach the homeowners of these structures to pursue a designation or know when any historic structure is up for demolition to make way for new construction. 

Historic Landmark Commission members thanked Dunn for her efforts and outlined a plan to recruit an intern to cross reference the build dates and records of each of the listed properties to finalize the document. 

Referencing a topic Wrightsville Beach Alderman Darryl Mills brought up when the board reviewed the historic designation application for the Mason Cottage last August, commissioner Robin Spinks noted the town did not have a ruling about how many homes can be historically designated. Since homeowners can apply for a property tax deferral with the historic designation, Spinks said she thought it would be a good idea to develop a plan to guard against the town losing too much of its property tax base despite the fact that not all of the homes on Dunn’s list would pass the historical designation review.

email cole@luminanews.com

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