Cornelius working to preserve its past
by Staff Writer
CORNELIUS – The town needs to preserve its past if it is to move forward.
That’s the feeling of the local Historic Preservation Commission, which recently completed its strategic plan and now aims to put it into action.
“The goal and the mission is to preserve the history of Cornelius,” commission chair Nicole Goolsby said. “It’s also to educate the community about local history. That’s one of the big things we’ve been doing.”
Despite being founded in 1893, Cornelius is one of the newest towns in Mecklenburg County. The town was first named Liverpool but changed its name to honor Joseph Benjamin Cornelius, who invested in the town.
Goolsby said she and her fellow commission members have used a variety of ways to preserve the town’s history, including historical Revolutionary Way re-enactments and semi-annual walking tours of the town.
The group is also considering a third tour dedicated to the Smithville community.
“We don’t have a lot of those antebellum houses, as we’re a mill town,” Goolsby said. “There’re a lot of nice houses and houses we would like to save.”
To keep track of the historic structures in town, Goolsby and her fellow committee members set up a list of every property that’s at least 50 years old.
“We inspect the homes, we know which ones have been demolished and which ones have been taken care of,” Goolsby said.
The group looks at the condition and the historical significance of its homes, commission member David Stroud said.
“We’re looking for a house that maintains most, if not all, of its historical fabric,” Stroud said. “It’s not just about the architecture. If there was a significant individual that lived there, we’re also interested.”
Unfortunately, Stroud said, there aren’t many homes in Cornelius that have all of their original components.
“People have done what they needed to do in order to keep the houses up,” Stroud said.
Goolsby thinks that historic districts within Cornelius would serve as an attraction for town residents and newcomers.
The Historic Preservation Commission meets on the fourth Thursday of the month at the Cornelius Town Hall. Meetings start at 5:15 p.m. and are open to the public.