City of Marion

Historic Preservation Commission

Downtown Marion circa 1920's

The historical resources located in Marion is one of the City’s most valued and important assets. The conservation and preservation of individual historic properties and historic districts ties the community together and strengthens the economy.

City Council adopted an ordinance on March 24, 2009 establishing Marion’s first Historic Preservation Commission. The Historic Preservation Commission is comprised of five members appointed by the Marion City Council who are responsible for the general oversight of the historic preservation ordinance. In addition, the Historic Preservation Commission is responsible for making recommendations to City Council on the nomination of local landmarks and districts.

For more information regarding Marion’s Historic Preservation program please contact the City of Marion Planning and Development Services Department at (828) 652-3551.

Marion’s Historic Main St. District

Marion Community Building (c 1937)

Marion Community Building

The Marion Community building was built under the Works Progress Administration established by Franklin D. Roosevelt.

McDowell County Courthouse (c. 1928)

McDowell County Courthouse

Fifth Third Bank Formerly Community Bank of Marion (c. 1903)

Fifth Third Bank

The Fifth Third Bank building (formerly Community Bank of Marion) was built in 1903 for $8,000. Though having had several owners over the years, the building has been continuously used for bank purposes. The dome has become a symbol of Marion and used in a number of local marketing and branding campaigns.

First Baptist Church (c. 1914)

First Baptist Church

First Presbyterian Church (c. 1923)

First Presbyterian Church

St. John’s Episcopal Church (1882)

St. John's Episcopal Church

St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church (c. 1935)

St. Matthew's Lutheran Church

The Marion Depot District

The Marion Train Depot (c. 1860)

Marion Train Depot

City Tree Program

The City of Marion's Tree Program was established to effectively manage the public's tree reources, which contribute to the aesthetic, economic, and environmental well being of the community. All street trees (trees within the public right of way) and park trees are managed under the City's jurisdication. The program also serves as a source of information to help residents improve their knowledge of proper tree selection, care, and benefits in an effort to protect, preserve, and restore the urban forest canopy community-wide. This is accomplished through the leadership of the City's Tree Board. The City of Marion has been recognized since 1987 as a Tree City USA for its efforts to preserve and enhance the urban forest.

For more information about the City of Marion Tree Program, please contact Landdis Hollifield, City Clerk/Public Information Officer, at (828) 652-3551 or

The City of Marion has been recognized as a Tree City USA since 1987. The Tree City USA program recognizes communities that effectively manage their urban forest and meet the four Tree City USA standards. Marion has been selected each year for this national recognition for effectively managing its urban trees as a vauable natural resource. Maintaining this national status shows that the City and citizens recognize that urban trees are closely linked to our quality of life and take pride in working together as stewards to preserve and enhance the community's urban forest.

Marion is one of 80 communites in North Carolina designated as a Tree City USA. Marion has the 25th longest tenure among North Carolina cities as a Tree City USA.

The National Arbor Day Foundation, in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service and the North Carolina Forest Service recognizes muncipalities from across North Carolina and the United States that meet the standards of the Tree City USA program.

Marion must meet these four standards:

  1. Have an established legal tree governing body (Marion's Tree Board).
  2. Maintain a comprehensive community foresty program that spends at least $2 per capita on the urban forest.
  3. Maintain a tree care ordinance (Marion City Code Chapter 19 Trees)
  4. Hold an annual Arbor Day Observation and Proclamation (Celebrated every March with Marion Elementary School and Eastfield Elementary School)

These standards provide the basic structure for Marion's Urban Forestry Program. In addition, the City must demonstrate its ability to meet or exceed these standards each year by completeing an annual report and reapplying for the Tree City USA designation.

Tree City USA

Tree Topping is the practice of severely cutting limbs larger than 3” in diameter to stubs within the tree’s crown so as to remove the normal canopy and disfigure the tree.

Reasons Not to Top Trees

A tree’s crown is like an umbrella that shields much of the tree from the direct rays of the sun. By suddenly removing the protection, the remaining bark tissue is so exposed that scalding may result. It can also be a dramatic effect on neighboring trees and shrubs. If understory vegetation thrives in shade and the shade is removed, poor health and death may result.

Good pruning practices rarely remove more than 1/2 to 1/3 of the crown, which in turn does not seriously interfere with the ability of the tree’s leafy crown to manufacture food. Topping removes so much of the crown that it upsets an older tree’s well-developed crown-to-root ratio and temporarily cuts off its food-making ability.

A topped tree is a disfigured tree. Even with its regrowth it never regains the grace and character of its species. The landscape and the community are robbed of a valuable asset, and property value declines.

Rapid New Growth
The goal of topping is usually to control the height and spread of a tree. Actually, it has just the opposite effect. The resulting sprouts (often called water spouts) are far more numerous than normal new growth and they elongate so rapidly that the tree returns to its original height in a very short time – and with a far denser crown. This created the need for a lot more routine tree maintenance than an untopped tree and at a far greater cost.

Insects and Disease
The large stubs of a topped tree have a difficult time forming callus. The terminal location of these cuts, as well as their large diameter, prevent the tree’s natural defense system from doing its job. The stubs are highly vulnerable to insect invasion and spores of decay fungi. If decay is already present in the limb, opening the limb will speed the spread of disease.

Source: North Carolina Urban Forest Council
Forester doing Forestry

The Marion Tree Board invites everyone to take part in caring for our community’s urban forest, and with so many opportunities you can have fun while making a positive impact. To help you get started, we have listed a number of activities that you can do with family, friends, neighbors, or co-workers. Click on the catagory that best describes your group and start planning your activity today.

Examples of Activities:

  • Hold a poster, poem, or essay contest about trees at school or in your youth group.
  • Perform a skit at school, church, or in your youth group.
  • Organize a tree planting activity with your friends, family, or class.
  • Organize a cleanup a neighborhood cleanup with you and your friends.
  • Having a birthday party, anniversary, or other special occasion? Have a Tree Party and plant a tree to mark the special occasion.
  • Plant a tree for someone you know.
  • Educate yourself and others on the benefits of trees.
  • Identify and protect champion trees in your neighborhood.
  • Spread the word to neighbors about the hazards of topping trees.
  • Establish a “NeighborWoods” group.
  • Inventory trees in your neighborhood.
  • Pick an area in the neighborhood to plant a tree(s) or establish a community garden.
  • Hold a tree tour in your neighborhood.
  • Create a service project to cleanup a woodland or open space area in your neighborhood.
  • Add landscaping around your business or in your parking area to improve visual appearance, improve storm water runoff, and reduce your energy bill.
  • Organize a “TREERRIFIC” or “TREEMENDOUS” sale and provide a discount to patrons who support a community tree project or pledge a potion of sales to a Marion Tree Board project.
  • Participate or support a community service project to clean open space areas around your business.
  • Put up a window that draws attention to the importance of trees.
  • Include a bulletin in your regular flyer or newsletter about the importance of trees as it relates to topics of discussion in your organization.
  • Sponsor or organize a community service project that enhances the community’s urban forest.
  • Develop a presentation to present to your organization to educate others on the importance and/or benefits of trees or invite someone to make a presentation to your group.
  • Hold contests within your organization that encourages and promotes good stewardship over our community trees.
  • Donate labor, materials, trees, or money to support a community tree planting project.
  • Voice your appreciation and support for having a community urban forestry program.
Tree Board Overview/Proper Tree Pruning
Tree Pests

Safe Routes To School

Safe Routes To School

In 2008, the City of Marion was awarded a Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Action Plan grant from the North Carolina Department of Transportation. The Safe Routes to School Program was created by the National Center for Safe Routes to School, and is maintained by the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center with funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration. The Center assists communities like Marion in enabling and encouraging children to safely walk and bike to school by equipping local communities with the knowledge and technical information to implement safe and successful strategies.

Marion’s Action Plan grant will assist five area schools in developing a plan that will address engineering, enforcement, education, encouragement strategies to improve safety for students walking and biking to school. The information contained on this website is a culmination of data and materials provided by the National Center of Safe Routes to School as well as information that is specific to Marion’s Safe Routes to School Program. To learn more about the SRTS program please visit the link to the National Center of Safe Routes to School or contact Heather Cotton, AICP, Planning & Development Director at 828-652-3551 or email at if you would like to get involved.