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Waynesville pays homage to historic character with new guidelines

fr historicwaynesvilleBuilding owners in Waynesville’s historic districts may have to jump through extra hoops before undertaking renovations or alterations to their property in an effort to retain the town’s historic character. 


The plan, if approved, would act as a Waynesville-specific guide on how to renovate buildings in historic district or local historic landmarks. Building owners would have to submit detailed plans to the Historic Preservation Commission and get the town’s seal of approval — namely a “certificate of appropriateness” to ensure the integrity of historic properties.

Waynesville has a set of generic and optional guidelines currently but wanted something more fitted to the town’s unique look. 

“I like it because we stopped being so vague,” said Bette Sprecher, a commission member.

The Historic Preservation Commission would also have more teeth to get property owners to comply with best practices.

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Distinct architectural features among Waynesville homes and businesses include canvas or metal awnings, Neo-Classical pillars, corbelled brick, cobblestones, slate roofs, wood siding and gooseneck lights. The guidelines also detail different architectural styles — Queen Anne, Colonial Revival and Mid-Century Modern — found in Waynesville’s residential districts.

Philip Thomason, a consultant and head of the Nashville-based Thomason and Associates, presented a draft of the guidelines to Waynesville’s Historic Preservation Commission last month. The town hired Thomason using a $10,000 federal Historic Preservation Fund grant. It also chipped in $5,000 of its own money.

The town’s historic preservation commission wants to provide people with a comprehensive blueprint for how to upgrade a historic location. The document recommends different styles of lighting, ways to incorporate solar panels with the old style of the building and what to do when a door or window needs replacing.

“What’s in here is easily readable. It gives you something you can follow. Not just rules but how to do things,” said Sandra Owen, a commission member.

Historic guidelines guarantee that landmarks and districts maintain their historic features for generations to come. Members of the Historic Preservation Commission said they were happy with how the document turned out.

“I think this is far and away the best results we have seen. In other words, I think we are really getting our money’s worth on this,” said Henry Foy, historic preservation board member who also served as the town’s mayor for 16 years.

The preservation board is wary of imposing stringent standards on people who own local landmarks or businesses in historic districts, but it also doesn’t want to seem like a pushover when it comes to reconditioning the buildings’ notable features.

“We are really going to have to have some discussions among ourselves of how to toe these lines,” said Shawn Leatherwood, a board member and owner of an architectural design firm. “It’s about quality.”

Having the guidelines is all well and good, but the real change will come once people actually start using them.

“It is going to take some people who are interested,” Leatherwood said. “As people take some interest and want to take care of these homes and these districts, it will start to grow.”

The guidelines will only apply to local landmarks and local historic districts. Waynesville has 14 local landmarks but no local historic districts, though that could change in the future. The town does have designated National Historic Districts, including Main Street and some side streets, and Frog Level.

The town tried to designate downtown Main Street a historic local district in the 1980s but met backlash. However, now that Main Street is an established destination for visitors, property owners may be more amenable to the idea. Hazelwood and Frog Level, which are in the midst of revitalizations, could also be candidates for local historic district status.

The town board of aldermen would ultimately have to approve any changes to the historic district guidelines.


Voice your opinion

Waynesville’s Historic Preservation Commission is hosting a public hearing at 2 p.m., July 3, at town hall to hear feedback on a proposed set of guidelines for maintaining local historic landmarks and districts.

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