Knightdale OKs $3,000 study of Watson House

mhankerson@newsobserver.comDecember 30, 2013 

— After two years of trying to come to a decision about what to do with the Watson House that was acquired with the land that became Knightdale Station Park, the town has made the first step toward making the house functional again.

The town has enlisted Rocky Mount-based Oakley Collier Architects to help them determine what work needs to be done to the house to bring it up to code and how much it would cost.

“If it’s the council’s intent to consider putting that structure into some kind of public use I think we need to know first what it’s going to cost or have a good idea of what it’s going to cost,” town manager Seth Lawless said.

In a letter to the town detailing what the company would do for the town, Oakley Collier estimated the study of the property would cost about $3,000 and take about 15 business days from the day the town accepts their offer.

Mayor Russell Killen said it seems obvious that the town would start work to see what the property could be used for.

“This first call seems pretty easy to me,” he told the council.

Preserving history

The Watson House was a centerpiece of an old family farm that had 70 acres of corn, tobacco and cotton. It most recently belonged to former mayor Billy Wilder.

“I think it’s fair to say there’s a significant interest in the community in at least examining the future uses of (the house),” Lawless said.

In 2011, when the town first acquired the home, the decision was left to the Old Town Oversight Committee. Wilder suggested the idea of a museum that doubled as a place to hold small events, but the committee didn’t take any steps to assign a purpose to the building.

Now, the town still isn’t sure what the best use will be but they are looking forward to retaining the history of the building.

“When you tear down (buildings) that’s history gone and you can’t get it back,” said councilman Mike Chalk. “The historical value to it is important.”

Hankerson: 919-829-4826; Twitter: @easternwakenews

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