Polk County has been chosen as the subject of a comprehensive study of historic buildings and landscapes planned from 2022-23. Funding for this architectural survey came from the Emergency Supplementary Historic Preservation Fund (ESHPF), administered by the National Park Service, for Hurricanes Florence and Michael, according to a news release.
Since the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) declared a major disaster in Polk County following Hurricane Florence in 2018, the county is an eligible location for planning projects to document the degree of damage from past storms and prepare for future disasters.
In the event of a national emergency, Congress may appropriate funds from the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF) to provide assistance for historic preservation projects in areas affected by natural disasters, the statement said.
The HPF uses revenue from federal oil and gas leases on the outer continental shelf to support a wide range of preservation projects without spending taxpayer dollars. In 2018, hurricanes Florence and Michael, along with Typhoon Yutu, caused extensive damage to communities in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, the Northern Mariana Islands, South Carolina and Virginia. Congress then passed Public Law 116-20 to provide ESHPF assistance to these six states and one territory related to damage from these storms.
North Carolina has chosen to allocate funds to support the Historic Resource Survey to determine the overall degree of damage, as well as provide data for resilience planning of the state’s valuable cultural resources. Polk County was selected among other eligible counties because the State Historic Preservation Office (HPO) has not yet conducted a comprehensive architectural survey of the county, according to the release.
The 2022-23 architectural survey will intensively document historic buildings and landscapes from the early 19th century to the 1970s, including those in Columbus, Saluda, Tryon and rural areas. Data collected during the survey will help Polk County plan for the preservation of its historic resources.
The State of North Carolina hired Johnson, Mirmiran & Thompson, Inc. (JMT), a Raleigh-based cultural resource consulting firm, to carry out the project. Caitlin Herrnstadt will serve as principal investigator. Preliminary field work will begin in early April. A rural Polk County survey will take place in the second half of 2022. A Polk County municipal survey is expected to take place in early to mid-2023.
An architectural survey involves documenting buildings and landscapes that are at least 50 years old. Field workers take photographs, draw site maps and collect oral histories from people they meet on site. They perform a limited amount of archival research to establish county-wide historical development patterns.
JMT will also identify properties that appear potentially eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, either individually or as historic districts. National Registry properties are potentially eligible for state and federal tax credits for Certified Historic Rehabilitation. Polk County’s comprehensive architectural survey will result in a final report that analyzes the county’s history through the lens of its historic architecture.
Upon completion of the survey, the HPO will share the final report and geospatial data collected during fieldwork with the National Park Service and retain all survey items as part of the site-wide architectural record. the state. Public access to information will be available through HPOWEB, HPO’s Geographic Information System, accessible online at http://gis.ncdcr.gov/hpoweb/. The survey materials will facilitate the environmental review needed for state and federal businesses and help plan future economic and community development projects. The survey products will also be useful for the continued development of heritage tourism programs in Polk County.
For more information about the Polk County Comprehensive Architectural Survey, contact Elizabeth C. King, Architectural Survey Coordinator for the North Carolina State Office of Historic Preservation, at [email protected] gov or 919-814-6580, or Caitlin Herrnstadt of JMT at [email protected]