Monday, November 18, 2013

Charlotte council to vote on three preservation projects

The Cohen-Fumero house, designed by Charlotte architect Murray Whisnant
The Charlotte City Council at tonight's meeting is expected to vote on designating three buildings as historic landmarks. The first is the Cohen-Fumero House. Read more about it at the PlanCharlotte article, "Can Charlotte learn to love Modernist homes?

For Charlotte, it's an unusual selection:
  • First, it's in East Charlotte, not a part of the city that's been graced with many landmark buildings.
  • Second, it's a mid-century Modernist home, an architectural style that while attractive to a younger, hipper population around the country, doesn't get the love from the more traditionalist sectors in Charlotte, a city with a comparatively large bloc of traditionalist sectors.

But in its favor is this: Landmarking historic properties is easier in parts of the city that are not seeing intense development pressure. That's why so many historic properties in uptown were wiped away; the dirt under them was too valuable for new development.

Some personal disclosure here: I'm friends with the original owners, artists Herbert Cohen and Jose Fumero, who in the 1950s and 1960s hosted much of the Charlotte "Creative Class" in their living room for Sunday dinners. They've been together for something like 50 years, which in itself is worthy of note. And I'm friends with the architect who designed the house for them, Murray Whisnant. Whisnant, a Charlotte native who also designed the Rowe Arts Building at UNC Charlotte, has been a creative force in the city for decades. 

The other two properties are mills: The Defiance Sock Mill in the Third Ward neighborhood, and the Louise Mill, built in 1897 in the Belmont neighborhood.  Charlotte is (finally!) seeing an impressive collection of renovated and adaptively reused mills dating to its textile-industry past. Among the notable projects:
Atherton Mill in South End, Highland Mill in NoDa, the Charlotte Cotton Mill uptown, and Alpha Mill in uptown/Optimist Park. (I'm not sure where one neighborhood ends and the other begins.)

To see the reports on the historic properties on tonight's City Council agenda:
Click here for the Cohen Fumero House.
Click here for the Defiance Sock Mills.
Click here for the Louise Cotton Mill.


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