By Nathan Ham
With the upcoming retirement of Boone Mayor Rennie Brantz, the town council unanimously supported naming the property where the Jones House is as Rennie Brantz Park on October 19.
Initially, the North Street Park was going to be named after the mayor, however, after further input from community members and the mayor himself to leave that historical park the way it is, the decision was made to name the Jones House location after the mayor instead of the park on North Street.
Brantz was first elected to the town council in 2005 and was also on the original advisory board for the Jones House when it was converted to the community center. He was appointed to take over as Boone’s Mayor in 2015 to fill an unexpired term following the resignation of Mayor Andy Ball. Brantz ran for re-election twice more as mayor and won each time.
“I was surprised at the honor, it’s very special to me because I have such a close tie to Boone and our community. It was unexpected and greatly appreciated. I think of all the different awards that I have received over my career, this is the most important one,” Brantz said.
Brantz said that the Jones House is a “wonderful asset” for the town of Boone and is proud to have been part of the group that turned the property into the downtown community center.
Boone Town Manager John Ward recalled many times when Mayor Brantz would show up at the Thursday Night Jam Sessions at the Jones House with his own guitar and quickly became one of the regular musicians that showed up. You would find him almost every Friday for Music on the Lawn at the Jones House as well.
“Mayor Brantz stepped in upon the resignation of former mayor Andy Ball and brought a tremendous amount of needed stability at that time. It’s very uncommon to have a mayor resign,” Ward said. “It has been a wonderful run. There’s not anybody out there that doesn’t have wonderful things to say about Mayor Brantz so I think this was a fitting way to honor him.”
Brantz said some of the musical talents that showed up to play in those jam sessions were unbelievable.
“We’d play for two or three hours until we got so tired we just couldn’t do it anymore,” laughed Brantz.
Outside of his role as Boone’s Mayor, Brantz was known as a historical buff, both in the classroom at Appalachian State University and in the community. Brantz first came to Boone in 1974 when he was hired at Appalachian State to teach history. He continued teaching at the university and working with the history department on numerous programs until his eventual retirement from there in 2016. He was one of the most prominent figures in the founding of Boone’s Historic Preservation Commission and the Boone Historic District. At App State, Brantz was the founder and director of the Freshman Seminar program and was the founder and coordinator for the campus’s Center for Judaic, Holocaust, and Peace Studies.
While no official date has been given for when the park will be renamed, Ward said that the town is moving forward with ordering a sign for the Jones House property and the town will be having a dedication ceremony in the future. Once the sign arrives, the area on King Street will be renamed Jones House at Rennie Brantz Park.