Historic Preservation in Raleigh. What to keep?

The entire community :face_with_raised_eyebrow:.


Glad to know if the entire community (or a few loud people on a message board) don’t like my plans for my house, it’s not just about me as the owner. :roll_eyes:

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lol, wow. I had no idea people wanted to tear these buildings down. I’m just glad yall dont have any decision making powers.

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I’m not sure if the repeated mischaracterization of other people’s positions is willful or accidental here, so, one more time for the people in the back:

  1. No one on the message board has advocated tearing down the buildings for the sake of doing so. Literally no one.

  2. Several people have expressed the view that if the owners of the existing buildings wanted to tear them down to make room for something else, such is life, and it would be inappropriate for the local government to appropriate privately owned land and tell the property owners that they could no longer make use of their own land as they see fit.

  3. There’s absolutely no reason why the folks who hold these views would have “any decision making powers” about what to do with these buildings. The decision making powers belong to the people who own the buildings, not to people who comment about them on message boards. The people who have expressed these views are in no way trying to tell the owners what they should or shouldn’t do with the land.

  4. The owners have decided that they would like to preserve the buildings, which is actually very nice. People on this forum appear to be widely in favor of the project, which looks like it’s going to be a really cool way to add some density downtown while also preserving some of the existing character. It seems like nothing but good news, then. Future landowners may keep things as they are or may go in yet another direction, which is fine.

  5. It would definitely be wrong to say that “the entire community values these buildings.” A few very motivated people on message boards seem to care about them a lot, but the vast majority of people in Raleigh really, truly wouldn’t care one way or the other if they stayed up or came down.


Well I’m not really sure what we’ve been debating. All I know is the buildings should and will be saved and to be honest they were never really in doubt of being torn down based on their architectural significance, their great condition, their importance to the immediate community, and probably like 11 other factors. Honestly, pretty glad we can stop whatever this debate was and hopefully getting back to talking about actual developments.

Just to level set, this thread is about overall historic preservation, not the specific development happening on the parking lot behind 307 West Martin.

Whether you like it or not, there are only so many ways to preserve but at the end of the day, if the owner wants to knock down something that “the entire community” values, so be it.

Let’s get back to discussing merits of preservation rather than bickering over differences in personal tastes.


No one accused anyone of wanting to tear down the buildings for the sake of doing so. That would be asinine on many levels. To some extent the city and its people have a right to dictate its built environment. There is such a thing as historic overlays (Oakwood) and The National Register. Protecting old buildings and neighborhood character is not a new concept. The city can and should do what they can to protect what is left.

You are right about one thing though - most people are too shallow to give a shit.

This particular point speaks to a political divide that I’m almost certain represents some people on this board but not others.

Do you have data supporting this assertion? No doubt that, in a city as large as Raleigh, there are many people that will agree with you, but I don’t know that data exists to support that “the vast majority of people in Raleigh really, truly wouldn’t care…”

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Sure. But the concern I had was that the views of some people were being mischaracterized. One poster suggested that “people wanted to tear these buildings down,” which is just not true. My post above was an attempt to more accurately convey the point people were trying to make.

It is most definitely true that some people on this forum agree with this point of view, and some don’t, and there’s been a healthy debate about it, all of which is good and fine.


I mean, it strains credulity to think that a significant number of people in Raleigh have formed any meaningful opinion on whether the 305-311 buildings on Martin St. merit historic preservation. I suppose if you drew the definition of “the community” much more narrowly, the percentage might go up, but I literally work within 50 feet of these buildings. I can take an informal poll at the office party tonight, but I would be shocked if more than a tiny number of people have really given it any thought one way or the other.

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I could get behind an assertion that the majority of people probably haven’t formed an opinion on it, but that’s different than saying that they don’t care. I suspect that there are lots of people in the city that haven’t ever seen those buildings.

I’m thankful that none of you guys can stop old stuff from being torn down, so I guess it cuts both ways. And I don’t think anyone on here (that I recall) was advocating tearing these down.

Virtually everyone I work with in RTP has no idea of anything going on in downtown Raleigh…like 85% don’t know about any building built downtown in the last 5 years, or anything that’s gone in except the food hall and scooters. Most people in Raleigh do not know or care about the specific buildings downtown one way or the other. Of the people that frequent downtown, many do not care about the actual buildings, and may indeed be too shallow. Also remember many of the people downtown are not from here, and may also be young and self absorbed.

Then there’s the tiny fraction of the population here like us that actually have a passion for downtowns and history and buildings and growth. That basically leaves us with potentially careless developers pitted against a few vocal people with the city council to referee. I still think at the end of the day that the vast majority of buildings in question of being preserved have subjective cases.

And for myself, I’m happy to see any old building rehabbed and become awesome. I’m just not sad when many (not all) old buildings are removed to make way for something for our time period and a better use of the space.

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We’re vocal because 1) people with money make the decisions 2) having money shouldn’t mean it’s your right to go around pissing on the world with it…you cannot dig up graves just because they are on your land…you cannot poop in a creek without a permit, quite a few important buildings rise to this level in our minds 3)nobody at all seems to understand there are objective reasons to preserve old buildings…its much more than ‘just nice’…tearing down irreplaceable stuff for something that can be built anywhere is horribly stupid.
As an aside, Gucci, you made a funny point I was saying the other day, about how many people just realized we had a downtown after the Food Hall opened. I’m like, uh, thats not even in the top 20 best things in downtown…IMO.


To be fair, I don’t know what’s in the endless number of strip malls throughout the county. LOL
While we will never get everyone interested in downtown, its visibility is growing. 20+ years ago, people were looking at me like I was crazy for investing/living downtown.


The more I follow this thread (and increasingly consider muting it) the more I wish there was some discussion about what DOES make a building worth saving and how to define that in such a way that we can protect these buildings when it is needed.

Age alone isn’t a sufficient metric, architecturally significant if about as subjective as they come, materials and details seem hard to define but perhaps have value in including in any guideline. How would you go about coming up with a set of guidelines on what is worth preserving and what is a candidate for teardown?


Criteria A,B and C for National Historic Register listing are all very broad and any good writer can get one approved. They are ‘event’, ‘person’ or ‘design/construction’ significance. But what is significant? Maiden Lane got listed for it’s connection to NC State and as a streetcar suburb as an example. I think the angle of there only being a few left of an example of something has been used for ‘design/construction’. It’s objective to note if only 3 of 100 originals are left of something. That’s about where you are with the building at the corner of Commerce and Martin. I mean, that metal house contraption house things from Buffalo Road got saved and moved to Swain St because it’s about the only left…I don’t know much about it…it looks like a metal backyard shed and while I don’t care for the style, that was why PNC stepped in. I think that is a good starting point.

Actually, in North Carolina, if you have a grave or cemetery on your property, you most definitely can in fact have the graves relocated “just because they are on your land,” although you need to have a county public hearing first if you’re not related to the deceased.

Anna Johnson of the N&O actually just wrote a column about this recently. You’ll likely be unsurprised to learn that I fully support the landowners in this dispute and think that the county did the right thing by approving their request, and I strongly disagree with the commissioner who was making a sour face about it.

There is another concern in the back of my mind. I feel that height is pretty much inevitable somewhere down the line. The problem is that the faster we burn through empty lots at this stage, the more at risk it will put historic structures and low-rises with actual character, when the 40-floor buildings do eventually start getting built.

Part of my motivation for wanting to build higher is to protect more of Raleigh’s history.

and four 200+ ft. towers may be more visually striking than one 400+ ft one, at least as far as stretching out the City’s skyline.

In other areas like Glenwood or Hillsborough street, it would be a fantastic addition, but in this spot it will have little impact. Won’t even be visible from the money shot, and will cement the ‘gap tooth’ effect from northwestern angles for the rest of time essentially.

Maybe they should do a land trade with Kane’s Smokey Hollow phase 3? :stuck_out_tongue: