Ahoskie looks to expand historic district

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 20, 2005

AHOSKIE – History is growing in Ahoskie.

During Tuesday’s Ahoskie Town Council meeting, John Fritz, Chairman of Ahoskie’s Historic Preservation Committee, said his organization was seeking to expand the town’s historic district as well as creating a second district.

Over the past 18 months, the committee has worked to create an original district, one that first included a small five-block area of downtown. That district, all in close proximity to the main railroad line, touched Main, Mitchell, North and Railroad streets.

The North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources has deemed Ahoskie’s district as, &uot;potentially eligible for the National Register (of historic places).&uot; Fritz said state officials stated, in a letter, that Ahoskie’s historic district, &uot;warrants further study.&uot;

In the meantime, Fritz has discovered that the district could possibly expand, meaning more property owners may benefit from their holdings being deemed historic. That led Fritz and other committee members to come-up with an expanded district, one that proposes to cover a 68-block area stretching as far south as Sunset Street to as far north as Rogers Street as well as Catherine Creek Road westward to Pembroke Ave.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Fritz told Council members that expanding the current historic district was the favored option of the committee. The only other available option would be to develop a National Registry Multiple Property listing. That would lead to the property owner seeking historic designation on their respective homes or businesses, an effort that could cost each individual an approximate $1,500 per listing.

By avoiding that cost, Fritz stated it becomes more alluring to property owners to become a part of the expanded historic district.

In addition, Fritz noted the possibility of creating a second historic district within the town. That proposal would cover the Holloman Ave. area, including R.L. Vann School and the Atlantic District Fairgrounds.

Last year, Council approved $10,000 for the Historic Preservation Committee to begin their quest to map out the best strategy for the town in preserving all of its historic buildings. Fritz said it would take that money to finish the listing process of the original and expanded district and another $5,000 to finish the job – that of identifying all eligible properties in the proposed second district.

Because he was only listed on the agenda for an update, Council members listened to Fritz’s proposal and took no action on the matter.

There is a March 3 meeting scheduled for 5 p.m. at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Ahoskie where property owners within either the expanded or proposed second district will have the opportunity to seek answers to their questions. Representatives from the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources will be present at the meeting to discuss this important issue.