Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Clayton Halloween Parade

Main Street in downtown Clayton was closed for a few hours today as witches and goblins and Ninja's and firemen and princesses and puppies trolled the streets for candy and other treats from the downtown businesses.

Clayton Parks & Rec organized the event for the 7th year, closing Main Street from Lombard to O'Neil for about an hour and half so the young trick or treaters could cross the street from business to business safely. The Town Square at Main and Fayetteville was set up with games for the costumers to play.

An estimated 400-500 children and chaperones paraded through downtown Clayton

And gathered in the Town Square to the thump of Halloween music, games and more candy prizes!

Accounting Advantage Ribbon Cutting

The Clayton Area Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting today for Accounting Advantage, 401 E Main Street, Suite 203 in downtown Clayton. Mary Lytle opened the office a few weeks ago in the historic Barbour Building. Her number is 359-0208. From left to right in the picture is Betsy Grannis, Dan Lytle, Chamber Chairman Steve Matthews, Mary Lytle, Angela Abu Rahma, Leslie Barranco, Keith Branch. All are Chamber board members, other than Mary & Dan!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Clayton Historic District Update

A group of residents and business people learned about Clayton’s proposed historic district at an introductory meeting at the Clayton Center on October 18. Town Council members Bob Ahlert and Michael Grannis and Clayton Downtown Development Association chair, Joyce Blackley and Treasure Ed Knight were also in attendance.

National Register consultant Nancy Van Dolsen, of Wilson, spoke about the preliminary boundaries, the process she was going to use in researching the district properties and the timeline of the nomination process for having the historic district listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Claudia Brown, Branch Supervisor of the State Historic Preservation Office in Raleigh spoke about what comprises a historic district; effects of being in a historic district and provided information about tax credits for historic rehabilitation of eligible properties.

The period of historical significance in Clayton is from 1880 to 1956. The Clayton Historic District comprises both the town’s historic business district and some of its residential neighborhoods. Buildings within the district include two properties presently on the National Register of Historic Places, the Clayton Banking Company Building, now the Clayton Area Chamber of Commerce, which was listed in 1996; and the Clayton Graded School and Auditorium, now The Clayton Center Auditorium and Conference Center, which was listed in 2001.

The proposed boundaries are as follows:
1) E. Main St. from S. O’Neil St. to Lombard St.
2) S. Fayetteville St. from E. Main St. to E. Blanche St.
3) E. Blanche St. to S. Lombard St.
4) S. Lombard St. to E. Second St.
5) E. Second St. from S. Fayetteville St. to Hardee St.
6) E. Front St. from and including E. Stallings St. to Central St.

Ms. Van Dolsen said that these are preliminary boundaries and that she will inventory the district “tax parcel by tax parcel.” Once that is completed the boundaries could change a little, she said. A historic district is comprised of the “largest concentration of historic buildings without gaps,” she added.

Ms. Brown told the group that, “being listed on the National Register of Historic Places is an honor and places no obligation or restriction on a private owner using their own resources no maintain or restore the property.”

There are several different types of historic districts: a “National Register of Historic Places District,” which is what Clayton is pursuing, and a “Local Designation District”, in which the historic district is conferred by a local governing board following a recommendation by its preservation commission. Clayton doesn’t have a preservation commission.

However, if a contributing, income-producing property is within a National Register District, the property may be eligible for a 20% federal income investment tax credit against the costs of a qualified rehabilitation of the building. An additional 20% tax credit may also be taken at the state level.

Non-income-producing properties may also be eligible for a 30% state-only tax credit. If a property owner pursues the tax credits, then they must follow the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation. Ms. Brown said It is highly recommended that a property owner considering applying for tax credits contact the State Historic Preservation Office before beginning work. She added that, “a lot of problems and misunderstandings can be alleviated by a site visit from a SHPO staff person.”

More information about historic districts, tax credits and historic preservation in general can be found at the State Historic Preservation Office website at www.hpo.dcr.state.nc.us.

The town’s historic district includes examples of commercial, religious, educational, and residential buildings and includes north and south sides of the railroad tracks. The business district is densely developed and has many well-preserved late nineteenth and early twentieth-century commercial buildings with handsome storefronts and decorative cornices. The Study List application describes the residential neighborhoods as featuring, “single-family homes on well-tended lawns, many with large, handsome shade trees. The district’s streets are flanked by poured concrete sidewalks that undulate with the town’s gently rolling topography.”

Commercial buildings are well-represented by the Clayton Banking Company Building (Chamber of Commerce), the B.M. Robertson Mule Company stable, the one-and two-story brick buildings lining both sides of East Main Street, and two masonry stores on East Front Street.

The district includes examples of residential buildings from the late nineteenth through the mid-twentieth century. Among the residences located within the district are excellent examples of the Queen Anne style, including the Mayo House, the Young House, the David Barbour House, and the Hinton House which is one of the finest smaller Queen Anne residences in the county.

Domestic architecture from the late Victorian-era is well-represented in the Barbour House on Horne Street. The Barnes House, Cox House, Massey House, Robertson House and Talton House are all examples of one of the most popular styles within the district, the Colonial Revival style. The Holland House and the Page House are excellent examples of the bungalow form, Well-preserved examples of smaller frame residences appear throughout the district, including some mill houses associated with the Clayton Cotton Mill.

The district also contains some very fine churches, including the Horne Memorial United Methodist Church, St. Augustine’s African Methodist Episcopal Church, and the First Missionary Baptist Church.

The nomination of Clayton’s proposed historic district to the National Register of Historic Places will be one of the first digital applications used in North Carolina. Ms. Van Dolsen said that the new software will make the information and images to be user-friendly. “Once completed, you will be able to type in an address and all the historical descriptions and images will come up at once on the screen,” said Ms. Van Dolsen. Previously, the images were color slides and the nomination information was in a word processing document.

Ms. Van Dolsen is beginning her research work and hopes to have a first draft ready for review by the State Historic Preservation Office sometime this spring. The community will also have an opportunity to review it at that time. Then, she will make the appropriate changes and present the final draft of the nomination for public review and presentation to the National Register Advisory Committee, hopefully in a year or so from now. The NRAC meets only three times a year: February, June and October to make their recommendations.

As part of the research, Ms. Van Dolsen will use Sanborn Insurance Maps, business directories, news articles and standardized histories, but also information from individuals who have knowledge about certain buildings and histories. The best way to contact Ms. Van Dolsen is by email at woodhamfarm@earthlink.net or by calling Downtown Development Coordinator Bruce Naegelen at 553-1545 or via email at bnaegelen@townofclaytonnc.org.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Proposed Historic District Meeting on October 18

The process of preparing a National Register of Historic Places nomination for Clayton’s proposed historic district will be discussed at an informational meeting planned by the Downtown Development Association on Wednesday, October 18 from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm in the Poole Room at The Clayton Center, 111 E Second Street in downtown Clayton.

In June, a proposed Clayton Historic District was approved by the National Register Advisory Committee for placement on the North Carolina National Register Study List. That was the first step in the process of nominating a district to the National Register of Historic Places in North Carolina.

The Town of Clayton has taken the next step and engaged the services of National Register consultant, Nancy Van Dolsen of Wilson, to prepare the nomination for Clayton’s Historic District. She prepared the Study List application as part of Keep Johnston County Beautiful’s historical survey update of the county in anticipation of publishing a book on the county’s historic architecture. The process included applications for municipalities with potential historic districts for the National Register Study List.

Ms. Van Dolsen will be introduced to the community at the meeting and she will describe the work she will be doing to prepare the nomination as well as the proposed historic district boundaries.

Also speaking will be Claudia Brown, Branch Supervisor of the State Historic Preservation Office in Raleigh. She will speak about and answer questions related to the National Register of Historic Places program, the Study List, historic tax credits, and historic districts in general.

Seating will be limited, but is open to the public. For more information, please contact Downtown Development Coordinator, Bruce Naegelen at 553-1545 or via email at bnaegelen@townofclaytonnc.org.