The Elizabeth Wright Prince House on the hill next to the skate park was placed on the National Register of Historic Places by the U.S. Department of the Interior on April 17, 2017. To acknowledge this honor, the Highlands Historical Society applied for a National Register sign to be installed on the bank in front of the Prince House along U.S. Highway 64 east.
The NC DOT OK’d the rights-of-way encroachment, but the final word had to come from the Highlands Town Board since placement will also be in the town’s rights-of-way.
At the Thursday, August 22 Town Board meeting, Highlands Historic Society Archivist Ran Shaffner requested two things: permission to erect the sign one foot into the rights-of-way and to ask the town’s crew to install it.
He said The William C. Pomeroy Foundation of Syracuse, N.Y., approved the application for a National Register sign with a grant of $1,100 for its production, and the Sewah Studios of Marietta, Ohio plans to deliver it late August or early September.
“The Historical Society’s Board believes the attractive appearance of the sign at that location on U.S. 64 will add to the historic character of Highlands as recognized by both the state and the nation,” said Shaffner.
Commissioner John Dotson was the only one to hesitate giving approval.
“The number of signs we have going up around town concerns me and it would seem that this sign is meant to be viewed and read by traffic that is moving. Based on where you want to place it, people will have passed it before they can even read it. They would have to pull over somewhere and there isn’t a place to do that.”
However, Commissioner Amy Patterson said the sign wasn’t there to get people to pull over but rather to mark a destination “you might want to see.”
Dotson thought the sign would be better served up close to or on the house.
In the end, the board voted unanimously to permit the encroachment of the sign and to direct the town crew to install it.
Shaffner said the National Register plaques and signs represent a “national” honor versus the town’s three highway signs which are “state” signs.
He said there are 64 places in Highlands that are now on the National Register, with 55 of them in the town’s three Historic Districts.
Article by Kim Lewicki