Cary, NC – Throughout 2018, the Town of Cary surveyed residents about uses for three historic sites before unveiling their uses earlier this year. Now, repairs and interpretations are starting soon to prepare these buildings for their new life in Cary.
Updates on Repairs
The uses for the three Cary historic sites – the Barnabus Jones House, A.M. Howard Farm and the C.F. Ferrell Store – were finalized in February 2019 and now, town staff and consultants are working on what Page-Walker Arts and History Center Director Kris Carmichael called the “next level.”
“Historic preservation is never ‘one and done,'” Carmichael said. “It’s an ongoing process.”
Funding for stabilization and interpretation at these three sites is already funded and currently they are undergoing preventative maintenance work and site visits, the most recent site visit being the Barnabus Jones House.
Additional work being done at the Barnabus Jones House includes mowing and cutting a path through the surrounding foliage to create an easy pathway between the site and neighboring Jack Smith Park.
“We’re also adding in interpretive signage to explain what each building is and how it was used,” Carmichael said.
What Needs to Be Done?
For the most part, the town’s plan calls for all buildings on the historic sites to be repaired and preserved, though some degraded buildings at the Barnabus Jones House site – the chicken coop, feed house and steel equipment shed – are not considered historically significant and will be torn down.
Carmichael said work commences later this year, though there is currently no timeline to decide if town staff will start at one site or work at all three simultaneously or score which building needs work done first.
The A.M. Howard Farm, where Good Hope Farm is currently located, has the most damaged building of all three sites with its terracotta tobacco drying shed. This was an experimental practice in the 1940s to use intense heat to dry tobacco faster, but because the heat warped the brick walls, it is in the poor condition it is today and this method was not widely used, making the barn all the more rare. Other damage at the farm includes a crack in the tobacco grading shed’s foundation and general damage to the main farm house’s exterior.
The C.F. Ferrell store site consists of two warehouses and the store. While both the store and the larger warehouse are in good condition, the smaller one is graded as poor.
The Barnabus Jones House has a large number of buildings, all in close proximity to one another, with varying conditions. The main farm house is in the best condition, though Carmichael said its chimney needs work done. Before this historic site started opening up to visits and work, there was vandalism on the house’s exterior but that has stopped since.
The main house also had its windows boarded up but those will be replaced with plexiglass or transparent plastic sheeting.
“I’m really looking forward to opening the house back up and restoring its look,” Carmichael said.
The cabin, used to house enslaved people, is in the worst condition of the buildings being preserved and Carmichael said it will require the most work. Other repairs she noted are the cider barn and the floor of the kitchen/school house.
As repairs and stabilization goes on, residents can still give public input on how the sites should be used.
Story by Michael Papich. Photos by Town of Cary and Lindsey Chester.