On Monday, the McDowell County Commissioners heard a report that one of the chimneys at Historic Carson House is slowly but surely separating from the rest of the more than 200 year old structure. The main concern is this chimney might take that section of the house with it when it falls.
After hearing the report, the county commissioners agreed to provide $10,000 over two fiscal years to help pay for the replacement of this chimney.
During the regular meeting on Monday, the commissioners heard a report from Chuck Abernathy, who is the chairman of the Historic Carson House board, and other representatives from the historic site and museum. Abernathy said one of the four tall chimneys has been slowly separating from the house over the years. It is located on the southeast corner and is on the side along Buck Creek. There have been efforts to patch and repair that chimney on two occasions. The first was in the 1980s and the second was approximately five years ago. Due to the record amount of rainfall last year, the chimney separation has accelerated and is now one foot off of a plum line. Flood damage from Hurricane Michael last year has likely led to this acceleration, according to Abernathy’s report.
“It’s imminent,” he said to the commissioners. “It’s not a matter of if it will fall but when.”
If the chimney fell, it would likely pull part of the exterior of the house with it and would also cause damage to the interior.
“No one is sure how much time the house has before this might occur or the extent of the damage that would result,” reads his written report. “It is certain that significant damage would occur to both the interior and exterior of the home.”
After struggling with this issue for several years, the Carson House board has decided to remove that chimney and replace it with a historically correct reproduction. A contractor’s estimate is being obtained but Abernathy told the commissioners this would be a $56,000 project. There would also be some work done to the other three chimneys at the same time.
James Haney, former chairman of the Carson House board, said there are also concerns about that corner of the house sinking. “There is a major problem underground,” he said. “That is the grim situation.”
In order to replace the chimney, the Carson House representatives asked the commissioners to provide $10,000 in county money over two fiscal years. The historic site already receives county money every year, as do a list of other local agencies and groups.
The Carson House representatives also plan to ask the McDowell Tourism Development Authority for $10,000 over two fiscal years and the city of Marion for $2,500 over two fiscal years. In addition, the Carson House board will ask $2,000 from civic clubs and is seeking a $20,000 grant from the Marion Stedman Covington Foundation in Greensboro, which provides funding for historic preservation in North Carolina.
After hearing from Abernathy and Haney, the commissioners agreed to provide the $10,000 over two fiscal years to Historic Carson House.