Addor Continues Work to Save Historic Community Center

At over 100 years old, the Addor Community Center has seen better days. But work is underway to revitalize the historic structure given a recently awarded $15,000 grant.

The community center received the 2023 Stedman Incentive Grant, which recognizes and assists nonprofit organizations working to preserve architectural heritage in the state, according to a statement.

The award is funded by the Marion Stedman Covington Foundation of Greensboro in memory of Marion’s father. Preservation North Carolina presented the grant in October during its annual preservation conference.

Addor is a small community outside Pinebluff on Moore County’s southern edge. The community center was formerly the Lincoln Park School, constructed in 1922. It was a Rosenwald school, serving as an African-American elementary school, high school and community center for 27 years.

Rosenwald schools were constructed throughout the south in the early 1900s, funded by donations from Black communities, the Rosenwald Fund and public monies. There were 15 Rosenwald schools built in Moore County, and the Lincoln Park School is believed to be the only one left standing.

The building is a classic example of a four-room Rosenwald school designed to face east or west, according to a statement. It was modeled with “Floor Plan No. 400.”

“These historic places tell the story of our communities,” said Benjamin Briggs, Preservation N.C. president and CEO. “Places like the Addor Community Center represent an important and fascinating chapter of American history by representing the history of Rosenwald schools. Moore County is fortunate to have an example of an original Rosenwald school and to make it even more significant, it still serves the community today. This site is not only a landmark for the people of Moore County but a gold star for the state of North Carolina.”

The school closed in 1949 and was later acquired by the Pinebluff Maternity and Welfare Committee. It has operated as the Addor Community Center since 1952, having undergone a few renovations to serve the community better by adding a library, computers and a kitchen.

It also served as a rental space for a few decades before the building began to decline in 2010, and there was no group to oversee its maintenance. A new board formed in 2015 as a nonprofit with hopes to save the old school.

“The current children don’t have any venue for recreation or education,” said John Bright, the community center’s treasurer. “… God just touched my heart to help these younger children have something to be proud of in the community and for adults as well.”

Bright grew up in Addor and said the community center was a “focal point” for residents.

“I experienced how much of an asset the center was and learned later on how important to the community it was as well,” Bright said. “That was the hub of everything for the citizens of the community.”

None of the churches nearby were large enough to accommodate much of a crowd in those days, so the community center was the default location for funerals, weddings and family reunions. The same goes for community celebrations and holiday events.

Bright said the building has also hosted GED classes, after-school programs, community basketball leagues, scout troops and a food bank.

What initially seemed like an insurmountable task of restoring the building became more challenging when Hurricanes Florence and Michael damaged it in 2018. The community center was tarped to try and prevent further damage, but water leaked through the roof and caused issues with the foundation, floors and walls, according to a statement.

The Addor Community Center received a $785,000 award from the N.C. State Historic Preservation Office in 2021 from a pool of federal disaster relief money designated to repair historic buildings damaged by Hurricanes Matthew and Florence.

The Addor Community Center was eligible for these funds because it was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.

The scope of work defined for the project included structural and foundation repairs, replacement of the roof and windows, new interior finishes and updates to the building’s electrical system, heating and cooling and plumbing.

Bright said the federal grant was supposed to cover all repairs, including upgrades like new bathrooms, but the project’s budget has grown due to the inflation of construction materials over the last few years. He said the new goal is to save the building and then fundraise to make additional improvements for the interior.

The community center also received a $5,000 grant from Brownson Memorial Presbyterian Church in 2021 to assist with rehabilitation efforts. The Stedman Incentive Grant is expected to fund a new roof and begin securing the foundation.

Bright said work hasn’t begun yet, but the board is working with an architect. He said the federal funds have to be spent by next fall, and he is hopeful for work to start before the end of this year.

By Ana M. Risano, The Pilot

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