Historic Preservation Commission approves new elevator plans for Wrenn House at Bell Tower Green Park

Published 12:02 am Friday, March 11, 2022

SALISBURY — The Historic Preservation Commission on Thursday authorized the addition of an elevator at the historic Wrenn House at Bell Tower Green Park after it was denied last month.

The Wrenn House was constructed in the 1830s and sits at 115 South Jackson Street. In February, the commission gave the green light on several renovations, including demolition of the existing stone building, a donor wall and fencing to the side of the building. The existing stone building was built in the 1980s and does not match the rest of the building and is several feet lower than that of the main structure and disconnected.

At the February meeting, Bill Burgin of Bell Tower Green LLC explained that the new building would be about the same size and include recycled stone from the 1980s building, but the floor would be on the same level as the main structure and would directly connect to the kitchen, housing dry and cold storage. Ultimately, the goal is to house a restaurant with rooftop seating.

The original request at the February meeting was to install an elevator encased in a brick column on the south side of the building, which Burgin said is required under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The plan approved Thursday places the elevator inside the second wing of the Wrenn House, with it breaching the roof.

The commission’s standard is that additions to structures must be placed as inconspicuously as possible on the least character-defining side of the building. While all four sides of the building are visible within the park, the elevator addition would only be visible from South Jackson Street and its roof ridge would be aligned with the existing roof. Installing the elevator shaft would require removal of some roof elements and support, but the proposed elevator doesn’t affect the exterior walls.

Additionally, the visible portion of the elevator would be finished with wood, clapboard siding and a standing steam metal shed roof, consistent with other materials on the building.

Another condition of the approval in February was for Burgin to return with better plans for the southern wall of the addition. Burgin’s plans now include 6-over-9 light windows.

Plans for renovations at the Wrenn House had been on the agenda for months. Commission member Steve Cobb told Burgin “third time’s a charm.” Burgin said the revised plan is a much better one.

Also at the meeting, commission members debated at length before ultimately granting a 120-day demolition delay on a house located at 1300 North Main Street. The owner purchased the home in 2012 and made some unauthorized renovations and removals, but no work has been done on the house since then. Code Services Manager Michael Cotilla said for at least 10 years, it has been a “hotbed” for illegal dumping. The property owner is required to bring the structure up to minimum housing code or sell the property. Otherwise, the city could authorize demolition. Future work on the home would need HPC approval.

About Natalie Anderson

Natalie Anderson covers the city of Salisbury, politics and more for the Salisbury Post. She joined the staff in January 2020 after graduating from Louisiana State University, where she was editor of The Reveille newspaper. Email her at natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com or call her at 704-797-4246.

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