Matthew Brown has restored three historic houses in Raleigh, and has assisted with the restoration of many others. He has financed renovation of six houses for affordable housing.
Matthew spoke to City Council on June 20, 2023 on the topic of preserving Raleigh’s historic districts.
Good afternoon, friends. Thank you for your service, and thank you for letting me speak. Raleigh is a wonderful city in so many ways, but one criticism that is painful to hear is that Raleigh is a little bit dull. In comparison to other cities our size, we have few outstanding features of interest. We have no harbor, no riverfront, no mountains, no Beale Street, no Grand Old Opry, no Kentucky Derby, no streetcars, no space needle, no Biltmore House. We had some grand architecture, but we have gradually lost most of it.
But we still have some interesting historic districts that tell the story of our City. And people visit these historic districts every day of the year. People from all over the country and all over the world visit, and people from all over Raleigh visit. They bring their children to teach them about the past – the good and the bad.
But these historic districts will survive only if they are protected by a historic overlay. And in the last few years, City Council has allowed pieces to be taken out of several historic overlays.
The City of Raleigh covers 147 square miles of land. Metropolitan Raleigh, i.e., Wake County, covers 857 square miles of land. All of Raleigh’s historic overlay districts added together cover about one and a half square miles. The City is growing larger and larger, and the historic districts are getting tinier and tinier.
We can’t afford to lose any more pieces of them. Once they are gone, they can’t be brought back. And our grandchildren will talk about how foolish we were back in the 2020s to let our historic treasures be replaced by dull disposable buildings.
Our majority black historic districts are especially at risk. We need to preserve them to tell future generations the story of our black community, which is just as fascinating as the story of the white community, maybe more fascinating.
Please keep Raleigh an interesting place for current residents, visitors, and future generations.
Please preserve all of our historic overlay districts.
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