The Flat Rock Historic District, on the National Register of Historic Places, is the largest historic district in the state of North Carolina covering 6.25 square miles. In 1973 after years of research funded by HFR, recognition of the historical and cultural district became a reality. There are some 49 contribution assets within the district that meet the status of a separate listing on the National Register of Historic Places. Over 600 other assets, buildings, gardens, roads, landscaping and other historic elements are considered to be contributing within the district.
The committee is charged with representing the Flat Rock Historic District in dealings with local governments, planning boards, local advisory committees, French Broad River Metropolitan Planning Organization (FBRMPO) and NCDOT on projects which may have impact on and to the district. The representation includes education on the historic district and its significance to the local area, western North Carolina, the state of North Carolina and the nation. Additionally, the committee attends Village of Flat Rock Council meeting, Village Planning Board meetings, Henderson County Transportation Advisory (TAC) Committee meetings and other public meetings which discuss proposed projects that may impact the district.
The Flat Rock Historic District and the NCDOT Kanuga Road Project Update
Kanuga Road borders the Flat Rock Historic District from Little River Rd north to Kanuga Pines Drive. Under North Carolina state law, this area of the NCDOT road project is subject to review by the NC State Historical Preservation Office (SHPO).
In 2020, HFR Inc. began a study on how best to ensure that the NCDOT Kanuga Rd project would not adversely impact the Flat Rock Historic District and should there be any impacts how best to mitigate them. NCDOT does not have the responsibility to watch over a historic district regarding changes to roads. It is the charge of organizations such as HFR Inc., a nonprofit, working with the State Historical Preservation Office, to pay attention and ask the serious questions. THE HFR Board authorized the funding of this effort. The area of possible impacts focus on runoff coming from the installation of curb and gutter to the west side of Kanuga Road. Additionally, there are impacts to the view-shed – views you see as you drive on Kanuga Road. Running through this part of the Historic District is a tributary which flows into Mud Creek.
At one point of access from Kanuga Road into the historic district there is a private drive which once served as a back entrance to the Beaumont Estate c1839. This drive crosses over the free-flowing Mud Creek tributary using a stone arch bridge built over 180 years ago. Beaumont is constructed of cut granite stone quarried from Glassy Mountain in Flat Rock. The stone was transported by wagon down Little River Road and using the stone arch bridge for delivery to the building site. This historic stone arch bridge must be protected from any adverse impacts coming from the NCDOT Kanuga Road project.
This is only one example of the work HFR Inc. is doing to preserve and protect the entire Flat Rock Historic District. Our findings and suggested project mitigations will be presented to SHPO for inclusion into the required historic district mitigation agreement specific to the Kanuga Road project. NCDOT is working closely with us on this as they develop their final project plans. We thank them for their cooperation and open communications.
Very few of you have ever seen this bridge. It is a well designed and built structure. We bring it to you today with the attached photographs.
This is not the only structure being impacted by the project that we want to protect from additional runoff. The entire Mud Creek tributary can be impacted by silt build up and stream bank scouring. Additional bridge structures are also impacted. How the NCDOT mitigation solutions look and the plant materials used are of concern as well. HFR Inc., and our consulting partners, Vaughn and Melton and Equinox Environmental, will issue a final report of mitigation recommendations. This report will be provided to SHPO for inclusion in their final mitigation agreement.
Our final Kanuga Road NCDOT study and suggested mitigations will be published on the HFR Inc. website. Your support of HFR Inc. by becoming a member, and by donating will allow us to continue this work.
North Highland Lake Road Project Update
This NCDOT project is moving forward with construction beginning in late 2020. Funding for this project is through a bond initiative previously approved. HFR Inc., through our efforts with the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), has in place a mitigation agreement between SHPO and NCDOT minimizing the impacts of this road project to the Flat Rock Historic District. This agreement covers the intersection of Greenville Highway and North Highland Lake Road which will allow for a safer right-hand turn from Greenville Highway onto North Highland Lake Road. Some 1200 square feet of historic district lands will be used to make this possible. Mitigation includes how the curb and gutter will look at this corner, planting materials which can be used and the replacement of the current stop light with a radius arm suspension versus the current over head wires. With the replacement of the culvert running under North Highland Lake Road, between the Highland Lake Dam pool and King Creek which borders the Park at Flat Rock, HFR Inc. was provided the opportunity to request a design which was appropriate for this historic district. NCDOT is also mandated to provide protection, during construction, of the Highland Lake Dam and retention pool area.
One final project mitigation item was resolved directly between NCDOT District 14 Chief Engineer and HFR Inc. This allowed for the removal of both curb and gutter and a sidewalk between Highland Lake Drive and Highland Park Drive within the historic district. This had been overlooked during the first mitigation proceedings.
Historic District Easement Monitoring
In the past eighteen months 23 HFR Inc. Property Easements have been monitored. One easement remains to be monitored. Reporting of the inspections has been completed.
I Would like to thank the chair of this committee, Dennis Flanagan, for his leadership, dedication, and volunteer service as a life member of HFR, Inc. Also, a thank you to Sandy Schenck and Luke Hunter for their participation in the Kanuga Historic District Project.
Victoria Flanagan, President