Sunday, March 28, 2010


Situated a few short blocks from the Cape Fear River is the Wilmington Historical area. It is comprised of single family homes, churches, some commercial offices, bed and breakfasts, rental homes and homes subdivided into apartments. Houses range from early 1800's to early 1900's. This area is closely controlled by Wilmington Historical Zoning Dept which closely reviews every change planned for each home. They are very interested in perserving the Historical nature of each home in this district. This historical area is within 2 blocks of the river and runs approximately 7 city blocks deep and 12 - 15 blocks long.
Historical zoning personnel are very involved in any change planned for a house. They review house colors, trim and main colors, roof styles and colors, window changes, any modern updates planned and the like. They are mainly concerned with ensuring each individual realizes the historical value of each property and is willing to practise conservation methods approve to ensure the historical value is perserved of each home. They even have the power to fine a property not in conformance with the guidelines set forth for this historically designated area.
Many of these homes have been used in movies. The yellow Queen Anne above was used to film the movie Cape Fear - a good part of the movie was filmed on its porch. Right around the corner John Travolta filmed a movie at St. Mary's school. A Bed and Breakfast downtown has wallpaper that Oprah picked out for it.
A great number of these homes are plaqued and named with original owners name and date the home was built. One homeowner told me that all the materials for his home came into Wilmington via boat. The materials were delivered up the hill from the river to the property by horse and flat carts.
These homes are desireable not only because they are old but there is a strong sense of community in this area. Homeowners participate in home tours by allowing the public to see their homes during the Azalea Festival that Wilmington is known for and also the Historical Candlelight Tour a benefit for the Historical Society that takes place the 1st weekend in December. A secret garden tour is usually in the fall when you can see private gardens not open to the public. Also there is a kitchen tour where owners who have done innovative renovation to their kitchens open them up for a benefit kitchen tour. Horse drawn carriages give tours of the area daily. Most everyone knows their neighbors, there are sidewalks and wine tastings. People can walk downtown from their homes in this district to restaurants, shops, bakeries, and all the festivals Wilmington has going on downtown.
You just can't help love the live oaks and the lively colors of these wonderful Grande Dames of yesteryear still around for us to enjoy.

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