HC Courthouse

Published 9:12 am Thursday, February 9, 2012

WINTON – One additional free offer of land is on the table for the Hertford County Board of Commissioners to consider when they meet in a workshop this morning (Thursday) to discuss where to build the new courthouse.

Ellen Nance Downs Barnes, formerly of Winton now living in Tucson, Arizona, has offered the lot on which her family’s home now stands at 601 North King Street.

Hertford County Manager Loria Williams said the offer was made Feb. 3 via an email (and a follow-up letter) sent to her from Barnes.

In that letter, Barnes said she was making the offer in memory of her late mother, Lizzie Newsome Jones Downs.

“My mother sincerely believed that there was no place on earth as wonderful to be as with the history and people of Winton,” Barnes wrote. “She lived during her childhood and later as a wife and mother in the home on King Street beside the courthouse. Besides her family, this home was her most prized possession and sanctuary. I firmly believe, with tears in my eyes, that my mother would give her precious home and lot to Hertford County if it would benefit all those folks she loved and respected in Winton.”

Barnes’ letter stated there is one condition tied to the free offer – it’s only valid if the new county courthouse is located in its “historical location adjacent to King Street/Tyron Street.”

She said the offer expires March 31, 2012.

“This offer will be added to those already on the table for the commissioners to discuss on Thursday morning,” Williams said.

The other offers include the Percy Bunch property near Murfreesboro (a 25-acre tract that the commissioners have placed an option to possibly purchase), a parcel near Ahoskie owned by Stuart Pierce Farms, Inc., 25 acres of free land at the Riversedge development just west of Winton and a site within Winton, owned by the county, between the existing courthouse and the Sheriff’s Office.

The Barnes property (132’ of road frontage and 300’ deep) is a residential lot directly adjacent to the south of the unpaved parking lot that now serves the courthouse. It was that parking lot where the commissioners originally planned to have the new courthouse constructed prior to failing to gain a parking variance from the Town of Winton.

According to Hertford County Land Records, the Barnes property is valued at $27,367 (house and lot).

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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