Recent Updates - Davidson Historic Preservation Plan Adopted
The Town of Davidson continues to explore the expansion of its local historic district, with a goal of preserving and protecting more historically significant structures. The current local historic district includes the two to three blocks that comprise downtown, parts of the historic college campus, and extends to North Main Street. While a large portion of "old" Davidson is located within a National Register District, it is the smaller local historic district which contains the legal provisions to protect historic properties and guide historically sensitive repairs and construction within its boundaries.
What is a Local Historic District?
A local historic district is a zoning overlay that is an amendment to the planning ordinance and must be approved by the Davidson Board of Commissioners. Local Historic Districts are created to protect and conserve the heritage and character of the Town of Davidson. Owners of property in the local historic district are required to receive approval for many exterior changes in the form of a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA). Applications for COA's are reviewed by the Davidson Historic Preservation Commission for compliance with the Davidson Historic District Design Guidelines .
Last year, the town hired historic district expert Mary Ruffin Hanbury of Hanbury Preservation Consulting to determine which neighborhoods are appropriate for local historic district designation. Following public input sessions and a windshield survey that took place this summer, the consultant provided a draft local historic district designation report for a portion of the existing National Register District on North Main Street, known as the North Main Street Extension of the Davidson Local Historic District. The draft report was reviewed by the State Historic Preservation Office in October 2019. The Davidson Historic Preservation Commission voted to accept the designation report for the North Main Street Extension of the Davidson Local Historic District at their November 2019 regular meeting. In order for the district expansion to be adopted, it must follow the map amendment (i.e. rezoning) process. This process will include additional public input, a recommendation from the Planning Board, a public hearing, and final approval by the Board of Commissioners.
Benefits of Local Historic District Designation
Local historic districts protect the investments of owners and residents of historic properties. Insensitive or poorly planned development can make an area less attractive to investors and homebuyers, and thus undermine property values. In contrast, in a local historic district, historic district design guidelines and review by the Historic Preservation Commission of substantial changes to a property encourages people to buy and rehabilitate properties because they know their investment is protected over time. The Historic Preservation Commission also has the authority to delay demolition of a structure for up to one year, giving the town, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Landmarks Commission, or another entity the ability to purchase and protect the property.
Properties within local historic districts generally appreciate at rates greater than the local market overall, as well as faster than similar, non-designated neighborhoods. Findings on this point are consistent across the country. Moreover, recent analysis shows that historic districts are also less vulnerable to market volatility from interest rate fluctuations and economic downturns.
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- (Adopted 11/17/2021): Minor projects may be approved by staff and do not require review by the full Historic Preservation Commission.
What is a historic landmark? Are there any in Davidson?
Typically, to be considered for landmark designation, properties must be at least 50 years old and have historic or architectural significance to the community. The Town of Davidson includes 27 structures/sites designated as historic landmarks. They are listed below with the date they were designated.
- Armour-Adams House, 626 N. Main Street - Designated 2/13/2007
- Beaver Dam, 19600 Davidson-Concord Road - Designated 2/9/2016
- Blake House, Chairman, 318 Chairman Blake Lane - Designated 5/19/1980
- Bradford Farm, 15908 Davidson-Concord Road - Designated 11/12/2002
- Bradford Store, 15915 Davidson-Concord Road - Designated 6/19/2006
- Cashion/Moore Cemetery, McAuley Road & Hwy 73 - Designated 2/13/2007
- Currie House, Violet W., 525 N. Main Street - Designated 11/19/2013
- Daggy House, Tom & Mary Lu, 102 Hillside Drive - Designated 5/14/2013
- Davidson Colored School/Ada Jenkins Center, 212 Gamble Street - Designated 11/13/2007
- Davidson Cotton Mill, 209 Delburg Street - Designated 11/9/2004
- Davidson School, 251 South Street - Designated 3/13/2012
- Delburg Cotton Mill House, 303 Delburg Street - Designated 1/13/2015
- Elm Row, 306 N. Main Street - Designated 7/18/1977
- Eumenean Hall, 214 N. Main Street - Designated 1/25/1977
- Falls Store, 300 Mock Road - Designated 9/14/2010
- Helper Hotel (Carolina Inn), 225 and 215 N. Main Street - Designated 7/18/1977
- Helper-Walley House, 603 N.Main Street - Designated 10/14/2019
- Holt-Henderson-Copeland House, 305 N. Main Street - Designated 2/13/2007
- Johnson-Sherrill Farmhouse, 21525 Shearer Road - Designated 9/14/2020
- Mabonsie, 312 S. Thompson Street - Designated 11/19/2013
- Martin-Worth-Henderson House, 310 Concord Road - Designated 12/3/2019
- Oak Row & Elm Row, 306 and 308 Main Street - Designated 7/18/1977
- Philanthropic Hall, 216 N. Main Street - Designated 9/22/1975
- Purcell House, James & Elizabeth, 206 Lorimer Road - Designated 9/14/2010
- Restormel, 829 Concord Road - Designated 2/13/2007
- Southern Power Co Transformer Bldg, 210 Delburg Street - Designated 11/9/2004
- Unity Church Cabin/Lingle Hut, 213 & 219 Watson Street - Designated 12/9/2008
Impacts of Landmark Designation
The landmark designation can apply to the exterior only or to both the interior and exterior of a structure. The owner of a designated historic landmark may apply for an automatic deferral of 50% (30% if exterior only) of the Ad Valorem taxes on the structure. This deferral exists as long as the property retains its status as a historic landmark (i.e. is transferable to succeeding owners).
The owner of a historic landmark must apply to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission for a Certificate of Appropriateness before any material alteration, restoration, removal, or demolition of any exterior/interior feature of the structure may take place. A Certificate of Appropriateness for the demolition of a landmark may not be denied except as noted below. However, the Landmarks Commission may delay the date of the demolition for a period of up to 365 days. The only instance in which the demolition of a historic landmark may be denied is if the designated landmark is determined by the State Historic Preservation Officer as having state-wide significance as defined by the criteria of the National Register of Historic Places.
How to Apply for Landmark Designation
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission has a study list of about 60 structures in Davidson and our ETJ that have the potential to be designated as landmarks. Many of them are located in our National Register Historic District or local historic district. Documentation (typically completed by a consultant) is required for designation as a landmark, including a survey and research report, and photographs of the property. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commissioner conducts a site visit and the documentation is presented at a landmarks commission meeting for approval before being presented to the Davidson Board of Commissioners.
For additional information, please visit the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission website.
The National Register of Historic Places and local historic landmark and historic district designations are two very different programs that recognize and protect historic properties. Some historic properties and districts may receive both types of designation in communities where local historic preservation commissions have been established according to North Carolina enabling legislation. However, there is no direct correlation between National Register listing and local designation.
What is a National Register Historic District?
The National Register of Historic Places is a federal program administered by the National Park Service in partnership with state governments. The National Register was created by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 to recognize and protect properties of historic and cultural significance that warrant consideration in federal undertakings such as highway construction and urban renewal projects, and to provide incentives for local and private preservation initiatives.
In each state the program is administered by a State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO), who is usually an official in a state historical or environmental agency. In North Carolina, the State Historic Preservation Officer is the Director of the N.C. Office of Archives and History. The SHPO is responsible for conducting the statewide survey of historic properties, coordinating nominations of eligible properties to the National Register, and conducting environmental review of federal and state projects that may affect properties listed or eligible for listing in the National Register. Nominations of properties to the National Register are prepared and reviewed at the local and state levels, but the final decision to list a property or district in the National Register is made by the National Park Service.
When did Davidson designate a National Register Historic District?
In 2008, the Town of Davidson submitted an architectural survey, narrative, and visual documentation of structures located throughout older Davidson neighborhoods to SHPO to request designation in the National Register of Historic Places. The designation was realized in 2009. Properties located within the National Register Historic District are outlined in maroon in the map above.
Every structure within the historic district is listed as either “contributing” or “non-contributing” to the historic district. Typically, structures must be 50 years old, have integrity of historic character, and significance in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering, or culture, to qualify as “contributing structures.”
Davidson’s National Register of Historic Places survey report may be found here Version OptionsHistoric Preservation Headline.
Benefits of National Register Designation
National Register listing is primarily an honor, meaning that a property has been researched and evaluated according to established procedures and determined to be worthy of preservation for its historical value. The listing of a historic or archaeological property in the National Register does not obligate or restrict a private owner in any way unless the owner seeks a federal benefit such as a grant or tax credit. For a private owner, the chief practical benefit of National Register listing is eligibility for a 20% federal investment tax credit that can be claimed against the cost of a certified rehabilitation of an income-producing historic building. There are also North Carolina investment tax credits for both income-producing and non-income-producing historic properties. For more information, see Federal and State Historic Preservation Tax Credits.
For additional information on the National Register of Historic Places, please see the N.C. State Historic Preservation Office webpage.