Officials in the town of 3,400 people said they hope the designation celebrating the old will help attract newcomers.
"It would just help to encourage business owners to renovate their buildings, and it would provide tax incentives for that, as well as market downtown," City Manager Richard Douglas said.
Fifty commercial buildings and homes across 23 acres of downtown were placed on the historic register, including Ed McNeill's feed store and grocery.
"I ran the grocery store -- supermarket is what it was," the 85-year-old McNeill said, noting the building dates to the 1950s.
The store is among the newer structures in town. The Bank of Raeford building was built 1911, and a row of well-kept brick buildings nearby dates to the early 1900s.
The city has refurbished sidewalks to spruce up the downtown area.
Copyright 2023 by Capitol Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.