You couldn’t blame members of the Swansboro Historic Preservation Commission for being a bit skeptical about a request to demolish a portion of a historic home on Walnut Street. But their fears were allayed after Andrea Correll, town planner, explained that the demolition would not affect the home’s status on the National Register of Historic Places.

Larry and Kay Spears of Cheraw, S.C., came to the Aug. 20 meeting of the commission asking for permission to remove only the rear section of the home, which he said is made up of additions from over the years. They want to take that part down and replace it with a new addition. They also want to make repairs to storm damage, some of which will include the home’s exterior.

C.R. Francis Architecture prepared plans for the work that involves the addition. Charles Francis and Diane Filipowicz, representing the firm, were at the meeting to answer questions.

Correll considers their involvement as a plus because they are familiar with the renovation of historic structures, having worked with renovations in New Bern.

Spears said he and his wife purchased the home at 206 Walnut St., the Fannie B. Oglesby House, in 2014.

The Fannie B. Oglesby House is a three-bay I-house, formerly with center-hall plan, with two-tier front and one-story ell, according to information provided by Correll. Built around 1901, the home is a contributing structure in the national register district.

Patrick Larkin, commission member, expressed concern about a possible compromise to its status, with the demolition and construction.

“Will this change the house from contributing to noncontributing?” he asked Correll.

“No,” she replied. “The contributing structure is the original structure.”

April Clark, a commission member, asked about the possibility of salvaging anything of historic value from the section that would be razed.

“I wonder if they have items of any value,” she said.

Filipowicz told Clark that it is possible at least some of the existing addition structure dates back to the original construction.

“The original kitchen may have been detached,” she said. Later, it may have been joined to the main home.

Spears said he would like to salvage 2-by-4s for the purpose of replicating the chair rail that once existed on the home’s porches. However, he also said that having been in the crawlspace of the addition, it appears that treated lumber has been used possibly indicating it is of more recent construction.

Commission members also asked Correll if the soil around and under the site should be screened for artifacts before the new construction begins.

In response, Correll invited Amelia Dees-Killette, president of the Swansboro Historical Association, to testify.

Dees-Killette, a retired history professor, was doubtful there would be anything of significance in the soil, other than perhaps a spear point.

“There is a possibility,” she said. But she also said the area was most recently farmland. “This homes in this section of Walnut Street were built in the late-19th and early 20th century.”

According to information provided in the application, the addition will be two stories, of wood frame with brick foundation.

“As directed in the guidelines, the addition will be located to the rear of the original house, of the same height, scale and rectangular massing,” Correll’s memo states. “Roofs will be the same slope and eave height, and windows and doors of the same materials and style.”

Francis said the addition would include a kitchen downstairs and a master bedroom suite upstairs.

Specifically, there will be a kitchen, great room, bathrooms, laundry and closet downstairs, according to the application. Upstairs will include a bedroom, bathrooms and closet. Each story will be 586 square feet.

A first-floor brick patio and second-story wood deck are included in the plans.

In a note to the commission, the architects state, “The owners’ have expressed a more recent preference for standing seam metal roofs on both the original house and the addition, this request is based on the discovery that the original house formerly had a metal roof rather than the current asphalt shingles.”

Based on the plan for railings, windows and the like, the addition will be indistinguishable from the original structure, according to Correll.

“From the outside it looks exactly like the existing structure,” she said. Ensuring that match is always the goal in approving an addition for a historic structure, Correll stressed. “You are working to have it in tune with the contributing structure.”

Just as it is important to the commission to create that blend, it is important to the architects as well, according to Filipowicz.

“We intend to build the addition to the same genes as the original house,” she said.

In his motion to approve the request for a certificate of appropriateness, Jerry Seddon, commission member, included approval of the demolition and the addition.

Reminding the commission members that Francis and Filipowicz are very experienced in the restoration of historic structures, Correll said, “This is the best experience you can have.” 

All four members of the commission present – Jeff Conaway, Clark, Larkin and Seddon – voted to approve.

Email Jimmy Williams at jimmy@tidelandnews.com.

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