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Karen Hobson: This place matters, let’s keep preserving it

Without preservation

This streetscape shows what can happen without preservation. Submitted photo

By Karen Hobson

Special to the Salisbury Post

May is preservation month. As the months ends, it seems appropriate to make a few comments on historic Salisbury–the City, not the Foundation.

Historic Salisbury has a distinct character and urban fabric. It sets us apart from the surrounding towns and cities of the Piedmont and the Southeast. We have managed to keep the downtown and older, core neighborhoods largely intact — that is quite an accomplishment. Keeping whole blocks, streets and neighborhoods as they stand while re-configuring buildings and houses for today’s needs maintains the overall historic character of the community. Too many holes in the streetscape and we lose that all-important look and feel.

Salisbury’s urban fabric also has an authenticity that is unparalleled. We are the “real deal” rather than some sanitized version. Our grittiness still shows and it adds to our distinctive look. We stand out.

My plea is to keep Salisbury, Salisbury. Contrary to the views of some, we can keep Salisbury historic without stopping economic development. We may have to think a little harder, but the trade-off is well worth it. The historic integrity of our downtown, the railroad corridor and our older core neighborhoods is perhaps the most memorable characteristic of this community. We need to protect it and use it to our advantage.

If you don’t believe me, ask your friends who recently moved here or your out of town visitors what they like most about Salisbury. I will wager that the setting — the historic buildings, warehouses, houses and neighborhoods — forms a large part of what they find so memorable about Salisbury.

Karen Hobson is executive director of Historic Salisbury Foundation.

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