Attorney pitches plan to preserve McCreight House

The McCreight House (circa 1774-1800)

WINNSBORO – Mike Kelly thinks there’s more value beyond dollars and cents when it comes to a historic home in the Town of Winnsboro.

At the Sept. 4 town council meeting, the local attorney pitched a plan he says will rejuvenate the McCreight house located on North Vanderhorst Street in Winnsboro and honor deed stipulations at the same time.

“The odds of your having any legal liability of doing what I suggest are about the same as a meteor dropping and hitting us all in this room,” Kelly told town council members last week. “I’m not going to have any second thoughts or regrets about what I’m going to say.”

In a presentation to council members, Kelly proposed deeding the house (c1774 – 1800) to Palmetto Trust for Historic Preservation, which would repurpose the property.

Doing so, he said, helps relieve the town of some responsibilities associated with upkeep while also serving a public benefit.

Believed to be the first ‘board’ house in Winnsboro, the house was built by a member of the McCreight family. There are three stories, with two large rooms on each floor.

“Let them undertake it and put a historic preservation easement on it so that there’s no way that anyone will do anything other than the intent of the will,” Kelly said.

Winnsboro attorney Paul Swearingen, who accompanied Kelly, suggested the repurposed property could be marketed, with proceeds divided between the Palmetto Trust, surviving relatives and the town.

Though deed restrictions technically prohibit selling the property, Kelly and Swearingen said the family is indifferent to those restrictions.

“Most of the stipulations died with Ms. Quattlebaum,” Swearingen said. “The only important ones that didn’t were that the Town government maintain and preserve the property, which you all have been doing for all these years, and that it not be sold.

“Ultimately what she wanted is going to happen, whether the Town pays to upkeep this property in perpetuity or the Town gets help from the preservation society,” Swearingen continued.

Council members expressed intrigue over the proposal, but the town’s attorney John Fantry suggested instead that Kelly and Swearingen look at a quitclaim deed accompanied by a resolution of abandonment.

“The town would get no benefit from the sale, period,” Fantry said. “It would be an abandoning of the property and transfer of any rights, which may help you in your economic endeavors.”

A quitclaim deed is a deed in which a property transfers ownership without being sold, according to www.realtor.com.

“No money is involved in the transaction,” the website states.

Mayor Roger Gaddy agreed with the quitclaim deed option. He thought it would be pointless for the Town to profit from the sale, and asked Kelly and Swearingen to develop a proposal that could be voted on at the next council meeting.

“I don’t have a problem abandoning and deeding it over to them with a quitclaim deed,” Gaddy said. “I don’t think the property is worth much money. It might not do much more for the family than give them dinner out one night somewhere.”

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