Founded in 1939, Preservation North Carolina is North Carolina’s only private nonprofit statewide historic preservation organization. Its mission is to protect and promote buildings, landscapes and sites important to the diverse heritage of North Carolina.
It enjoys a national reputation, having been cited by the National Park Service as “the premier statewide preservation organization of the South, if not the Nation” and the National Trust for Historic Preservation as “the model organization of its kind.”
Through its award-winning Endangered Properties Program, Preservation NC acquires endangered historic properties and then finds purchasers willing and able to rehabilitate them. It has saved more than 800 endangered historic properties, generating an estimate of more than $350 million in private investment. Many of the saved properties have truly been community landmarks. Buyers have put these properties into a multitude of new uses, adding millions of dollars to local tax rolls and creating numerous jobs. Several of the larger properties have been adapted into affordable housing. More than 4,000 acres of open space have been placed under PNC’s protective covenants, perpetually restricting their development. PNC’s Endangered Properties Program is widely regarded as the nation’s most successful program of its kind.
The impact of Preservation NC’s Endangered Properties Program reaches far beyond the individual properties that it has directly saved. One of historic preservation’s many benefits for a community is its inspirational nature, as one rehab job invariably leads to another. By advertising the state’s historic properties in local, state and national publications, Preservation NC has indirectly been responsible for the revitalization of hundreds, if not thousands, of additional properties. Most of the properties saved through the Endangered Properties Program have been in rural areas or small towns, the parts of North Carolina most in need of reinvestment.
Preservation NC’s work with challenging properties has also raised the level of awareness about the value and promise of historic preservation to local communities. Preservation NC has been a pioneer in dealing with troubled building types, inspiring others through its example. From the inception of the North Carolina Main Street program in the early 1980s, PNC has been an active ally. Since the late 1980s, Preservation NC has worked to find adaptive uses for dozens of abandoned historic schools. Most recently, it has worked to find new economic lives for abandoned industrial factories and mill villages. These large projects have significant environmental, economic development, cultural tourism, and affordable housing components. Each will add millions of dollars to the local tax base and preserve complexes of enormous historical importance.
Preservation North Carolina’s other activities include the operation of the Bellamy Mansion Museum in Wilmington, awards, workshops, publications, legislative advocacy, and public education (such as heritage education materials for 8th grade classrooms). As North Carolina’s only statewide historic preservation organization, Preservation North Carolina provides support and assistance to numerous local preservation organizations across the state. One of Preservation North Carolina’s greatest advocacy successes has been the creation of rehabilitation tax credits by the NC General Assembly in 1997. These credits have stimulated much reinvestment in downtown areas throughout North Carolina (including many affordable housing projects). More than $1.4 billion has already been invested in historic buildings through this program. In 2006, legislation for an additional incentive to rehabilitate historic mills and industrial buildings was enacted.
Preservation North Carolina is supported by a membership of more than 4,000. Its members vary widely in age, race, income, and gender; approximately 90% of the members reside in North Carolina. Preservation North Carolina’s operating budget comes from private sources.