May was declared to be National Historic Preservation Month in a proclamation signed by Mayor David Rowe and read by city planner Ben Barcroft at a ceremony held Thursday at Veterans Memorial Park.
The ceremony was held on the wraparound porch of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Chapter 61 headquarters, which was formerly the Dr. Charlie Taylor home and farm. Taylor’s extensive farm encompassed all of what is now Veterans Park and more, according to Carol Burke, hostess for Thursday’s event.
Betty Wright, 2017 PNC recipient of the Gertrude Carraway Award, welcomed everyone present, explaining her presence by saying, “You can’t say no to Carol. Here I am with a broken foot.”
Jeannie Studnicki, a Mount Airy planning board member, introduced the keynote speaker Dan Pezzoni.
Pezzoni is an architectural historian conducting an architectural survey update for the city. He is the author of several books highlighting the historic architecture of various cities in which he has done work, leading to several pointed comments from Burke that he should consider a similar book about Mount Airy.
Pezzoni characterized the survey update of the city’s historic properties as “a long time coming” as the last survey was done in the 1980s, and there has been nothing comprehensive done since then.
“Now you’ll have more information, new information and updated information,” he told the group.
“The field work is almost done,” he said, after examining and photographing 450 properties. “The total will probably surpass 450 after today.”
Pezzoni added he expected to finish the field work later Thursday afternoon, and then the data entry would begin, culminating in a report which would include recommendations as to additional historic districts, neighborhoods or clusters of properties with historic merit.
“People hear ‘historic register’ and they get nervous,” Pezzoni said, “and think it means they can’t paint their house. But it’s just a way of pre-qualifying for tax credits.”
He added it was useful information for planning purposes, noting that was why the city planning board had been interested in getting the survey done.
“I had seen a lot of files and knew what to be expect. But I was excited to see them in the flesh. There are a number of high-caliber properties here.”
Pezzoni declined to comment on the outcome of the survey, saying it would be premature to speculate on possible outcomes before the final report is complete. He estimated it would be complete in June or July.
Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.