For Historic Preservation Leadership and Advocacy
Since her election to the Cary Town Council in 1999, Marla Dorrel has been the Council’s leading voice for historic preservation in Cary. Her decision not to seek reelection this fall has created a void that will be difficult, if not impossible, to fill.
As a result of her leadership, the Town has purchased the A.M. Howard Farm in Carpenter for a Town park, saving the property from demolition and development. Marla has also stewarded the Town’s ongoing negotiations toward the purchase of the Nancy Jones House and worked diligently with the Town of Cary Planning Department to develop and approve area plans that are sensitive to the preservation of Cary’s three National Register historic districts. This includes recognition of historic properties in the Town Center Cultural District, a moratorium on development in the core of the Carpenter area, and most recently, the establishment of alternatives to widening Green Level Church Road through the endangered rural Green Level National Register Historic District.
Marla was an early advocate for the preservation of the Waldo House. When the effort to move the house to the future downtown park appeared to falter due to rising costs, she urged the Town to seek a lower-cost alternative that included volunteers donating their own labor to clean out years of debris. Later, Marla tried valiantly to save the Barbee-Williams House in Carpenter from destruction. Although that effort failed, it stirred renewed interest in historic preservation in Cary. A long-time member of the Friends of the Page-Walker Hotel, Marla was instrumental in reactivating the Friends’ Historic Preservation Committee as a corps of committed advocates whose aim it is to prevent losses and encourage preservation.
Marla is the driving force behind the Friends’ historic preservation speaker series. The series serves to educate the citizens of Cary on various preservation issues and to raise awareness of the value and status of properties in the Cary planning area. A spring program this year, “What Have the Neighbors Done?” focused on the Town of Apex’s success in establishing an ordinance to discourage demolition of historic structures. As a result of that program and the advocacy of Marla and the Friends of Page-Walker, the Cary Town Council voted to seek authority from the General Assembly to enact similar protections in Cary. Cary joined Wake Forest in seeking the legislation, which succeeded.
Marla is a tireless volunteer who serves the community through her charitable work. She is a former Board member and Director Emerita of Capital Area Preservation; president of Kids Together and a member of the Nature Conservancy, Triangle Land Conservancy and the Friends of Hemlock Bluffs.
The Board of Directors of Capital Area Preservation is pleased to present a 2007 Anthemion Award to Marla Dorrel for Historic Preservation Leadership and Advocacy.