1000 x 90

Ransom Pub and Horton Hotel Receive Facade Grants From Downtown Boone Development Association

The Downtown Boone Development Association has a Façade Incentive Grant program that has been in place for many years and has helped improve several downtown buildings. This year the DBDA has received and approved two grants, one for Ransom Pub and another for the Horton Hotel. Ransom was recently given their grant money and when completed the Horton Hotel will receive theirs as well.

In April of 2018, Wine to Water applied for a Façade Grant for Ransom Pub and it was approved at the May Downtown Boone Development Association meeting. In September, they received $5000 for the renovations they completed. The Façade Improvement Grant program is a part of the Design Component of the Main Street Four Point Economic Development Implementation plan. These façade grants are an important part of the design plan because they help retain the charm and history of downtown Boone. Ransom has done a beautiful job with the outside of the building as well as the inside.

Ransom Cafe history

This unusual, two story building with basement has a complex deed and use history. Numerous sources, including past surveys, suggest that the main building was built in 1933, which is false. Located on Lots 4 and 5 of the R.C Rivers Addition to Boone, the property was the site of a one-story, brick building built in 1925 for the Carolina Wholesale Company, colloquially known as the Carolina Store (Watauga Democrat, October 8, 1925).

This building appears to have been demolished in early 1937, when a new item reported that construction of the present building on the site was underway, and that the new building would “include the site of the Carolina Store” (Watauga Democrat, June 3, 1937). E.A Poe, an architect from Lenoir, designed the current building, employing what was called at the time “a distinctive type of architecture.” The building employed a combination of granite, brick and steel construction, and the basement and first floor spaces were designed specifically for the use of the Rivers Printing Company, publishers of the Watauga Democrat, while the second floor was reserved as apartments.

Main Street Program

The Main Street America™ was created by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Through the National Main Street Center they have refined the techniques necessary for successful downtown revitalization, and they have willingly transferred many of the lessons learned to others. The NC Main Street and Rural Planning Center, having participated with the NMSC in their initial demonstration effort in 1980, directs the Main Street Program in this state through the Rural Economic Development Division in the Department of Commerce.

The Main Street America Four Point Approach® features economic vitality, design, promotion and organization. It is under these umbrella issues that all downtown concerns can be addressed. Economic vitality is the acknowledgement that the market for downtown has changed and we need to understand the forces of change and what that means for future development. Design represents the physical image as well as the way downtown functions, both publicly and privately. Promotion involves defining an image for the downtown and marketing that to people within and beyond the community. Organization is the vehicle by which people come together to identify areas of common interest and decide strategies for moving forward.

Design supports a community’s transformation by enhancing the physical and visual assets that set the commercial district apart. It means getting downtown into top physical shape and creating a safe, inviting environment for shoppers, workers and visitors. It takes advantage of the visual opportunities inherent in a commercial district by directing attention to all its physical elements: public and private buildings, storefronts, signs, public spaces, parking areas, street furniture, public art, landscaping, merchandising, window displays and promotional materials. An appealing atmosphere, created through attention to these visual elements, conveys a positive message about the commercial district and what it has to offer. Design activities also include instilling good maintenance practices in the commercial district, enhancing the districts physical appearance through the rehabilitation of historic buildings, encouraging appropriate new construction, developing sensitive design management systems, educating business and property owners about design quality and long term planning.

Facade Grant Program

The Downtown Boone Development Association (DBDA) acknowledges that the appearance of a downtown is largely decided by the condition of its buildings, which also contributes to the public’s general impression and opinion of a downtown. Therefore, recognizing the importance of downtown Boone’s appearance, the DBDA developed the Downtown Boone Façade Improvement Grant Program. The objective of the Façade Improvement Grant (FIG) Program is to dramatically improve the building façades in the downtown Boone Municipal Service District (MSD) in order to achieve a noticeable improvement in the overall appearance of downtown Boone.

The purpose of the FIG program is to provide economic incentives to achieve the following:

  • Promote storefront rehabilitation in the downtown area;
  • Preserve the unique character of downtown structures;
  • Encourage aesthetic compatibility for the improvement of non – historic structures;
  • Encourage the use of quality materials in the rehabilitation, restoration, and preservation of downtown properties; and enhance the visual experience of visiting downtown Boone.


1. Every applicant must be the owner or lessee of a building located within the boundaries of the downtown Boone MSD. For a property to participate, all owners or their agents must either be the applicant(s) or sign a disclosure form to be included with the FIG application.

2. In the case of a property owner(s) who owns a majority interest in more than one building in downtown Boone, only one of his or her properties will be eligible for a grant each year.

3. Façade grants may only be awarded to commercial properties, which include retail spaces, offices open to the public, and other types of businesses open to the public. Multi-family residential properties are not eligible, unless they are part of a mixed-use development with commercial uses on the ground floor/street level.

4. Properties that received a façade grant within the past two years are not eligible for the program. For example, if a property received a grant in 2015 then the property would not be eligible for another façade grant until 2017.

For more information about the Façade Initiative Grant Program please visit www.downtownboonenc.com/dbda or contact Downtown Development Coordinator Lane Weiss at 828-268-6283 or by e-mail at lane.weiss@townofboone.net.