George Henry White Center gets Preservation Award

The Gertrude S. Carraway Award of Merit was presented to Vincent Spaulding, Project leader, on behalf of the George Henry White Memorial Health and Education Center on Wednesday, October 4, at the award ceremony that is a part of the annual conference of Preservation North Carolina.

This award is presented each year to people and organizations demonstrating genuine commitment through extraordinary leadership, research, philanthropy, promotion and/or personal participation in historic preservation. Representatives of the Benjamin and Edith Spaulding Descendants Foundation were honored at the reception that was held at the Hayti Heritage Center in Durham, NC, including Milton Campbell (President), Wanda Campbell-Clay, (The donors of the original building and land); Stacy Robinson (Secretary), Vincent Spaulding (Project leader), Paula Spaulding, and Robert Egleston, whose constant support for the GHW Center led to the application for the Carraway Award.

“Retired Architect Vincent Spaulding sought to redress an historical gap by creating a memorial to one of North Carolina’s forgotten figures in the form of a community center that revives his legacy,” wrote Kate Tsubata, communications coordinator, in the application.

“With his architectural acumen, Vince took the lead in protecting and preserving the building….Vince led financially as well as in architecture and labor. Today, health fairs, computer classes, land management seminars, electrician training, Meals on Wheels, and fitness classes fill the center, bettering life for people of Bladen and Columbus counties.”

Of special import for Preservation North Carolina is the significance of carrying on the traditions established by our forebears. “The center does not merely memorialize GH White’s legacy: it embodies it. His famous promise, of a “Phoenix rising again from the ashes,” is a fitting metaphor for the new life given to a dying building—and new opportunities it provides for the entire community.”

Unaware of the nomination, Vince was surprised by the award and was impressed by the ceremony, which featured lovely landmark buildngs and projects all over North Carolina. “I don’t deserve this honor,” he said, “but I accept it on behalf of the leadership team and all the supporters and volunteers who have helped turn the vacant farmhouse into a thriving center for the community where George Henry White was born and raised.”

As many now know, George Henry White started life in the farms and turpentine woods of Bladen and Columbus counties to become a highly respected attorney and state delegate, and finally, congressman during the tumultuous years of 1897 to 1901. Despite the barriers he faced, he always worked to empower others with education, business development and land development. The center was initiated with $10,000 in funding from the BESDF, and is the first building memorializing his contributions to North Carolina and the nation as a whole.

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