Published: May 06, 2008 11:43 PM
Modified: May 06, 2008 11:43 PM
CARRBORO -- The annual Carrboro Day festival celebrates neighbors meeting neighbors. But some at Sunday's celebration said, for them, the neighborhood is changing too fast.
"Carrboro was a community built by a single-class: the working class," said local historian Richard Ellington. "Today, that class can no longer afford to live here, and what you see happening in the town of Carrboro is gentrification."
Ellington, former president of the Durham-Orange Genealogical Society, showed photographs in Town Hall taken by former resident Mac M. Watts. As the Village Band played outside, Ellington was inside de-bunking some of the mystique that surrounds the town.
Showing black-and-white slides of the railroad spur that started it all in 1882, he said: "Industry is what Carrboro is built upon. The mill-town reputation of Carrboro is really an urban legend. The mill was closed as much as it was open."
Still, the town's attachment to its mill-town heritage -- through its mill houses and renovated Carr Mill Mall -- shows people's desire to connect to the past, to share a common bond, Ellington said.
"What this legend does is give people something they can link to," he said.
Billy and Margaret Watts, 77 and 80 respectively, have lived in Carrboro since being delivered by a Dr. Braxton Lloyd in a little house off Weaver Street. Brother and sister handed over their father's numerous slides and photos to preserve the history of a town they love.
"It's very worrisome what's happening here in Carrboro with the real estate prices being forced so high," said Billy Watts. "The taxation is killing us older residents, and it bothers me that not one person on the town board is from Carrboro."
Paul Finn and fiancee Kelly Carver have rented in Carrboro for close to three years. This was their first Carrboro Day, and they came to listen to music and see friends and neighbors.
They love the town and want to put down roots and raise a family. Carver runs Cakewalk, a cake and cupcake bakery on East Main Street. But both she and Finn, a musician in the band The Kingsbury Manx, said they can't buy a home here.
"Growth is good, but I think you need a spectrum of lifestyles in a community," said Finn. "I've always thought of Carrboro as being an unique artistic community, but it's getting to the point the artists are being pushed out."
Still, you can't stand in the way of progress, Ellington said.
"Yes, the changes are disturbing to watch, but it's all part of the evolution of our town," he said. "My impetus for collecting Carrboro's history comes from my desire to share with people what created the character of Carrboro: working class people who were dedicated to making a good place to live."
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