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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He is a hero to thousands of North Carolinians who live near precious old buildings that, but for Myrick Howard, would have been destroyed.

Because of Howard’s work, scores of old school buildings, historic homes, commercial buildings, and other treasures — a total of almost 900 — have been restored and remain a part of North Carolina’s landscape.

Howard’s work and the endeavors of those he inspired or directed are making North Carolina’s visual building landscape a collection of treasures that will be enjoyed by North Carolinians for years to come.

Who is Myrick Howard and exactly what has he done to preserve so many important buildings? Howard recently retired as president of Preservation North Carolina, an organization he served for 45 years.

He responds to these questions and outlines the key ingredients of a successful historic preservation program in “Buying Time for Heritage: How to Save an Endangered Historic Property” revised and expanded edition, published by UNC Press and released on October 3.

Early in the book Howard explains why preservation of certain old buildings is so important. “If you save a historic resource, its stories can be recounted, illustrated and experienced. The cultural and economic benefits of preservation can be enjoyed.

“But if the resource is destroyed, its place in history will eventually be lost. Its value as a trigger for economic development and community revitalization will have been squandered. Where historic buildings survive, so does a community’s sense of history and identity. One might even say that these buildings are the heart and soul of a community.”

To explain why old buildings need the attention of preservationists, Howard makes an analogy to the variety of pups at an animal shelter. He writes:

“We often refer to Preservation North Carolina as an animal shelter for endangered buildings and sites. We are working to find good new owners for historic places that need love and attention.

“Shelter dogs are sweet animals, worthy of love and affection. They may need a bath or groom grooming, and they may need their shots. In some cases, they also need serious medical attention. What these dogs have in common with endangered properties is as an owner who can’t or won’t take care of them it’s not the dogs’ fault, or the building’s fault.”

But Howard concedes that not all pups or all old buildings can be saved and that “recognizing a lost cause and walking away is sometimes the right decision. Overinvesting in property that is truly ‘too far gone’ without having an explicit strategy for subsidizing its preservation can be deadly for an organization.”

Howard believes that hard work and experience in real estate is more important than money in developing and implementing a successful preservation project. “Throughout my career, I have found property expertise to be more important than readily available capital in working to save endangered properties. Working with endangered properties is a program, not a bank account.”

He emphasizes other benefits that come from having real estate expertise and having a reputation for getting things done. He emphasizes that active work in the business of real estate gives an historic preservation organization credibility in the community, it gives its experience and authority, and it strengthens the network of practitioners in historic preservation.

By seeking assistance in the real estate business, “the preservation organization develops relationships with contractors, lenders, architects, lawyers, craftspeople, and investors who can be of enormous help in future projects.”

The best feature of the book might be Howard’s detailed descriptions of the complicated and difficult processes that led to successful preservation projects, for instance, the saving of Rosedale in Charlotte, a historic house near U.S.29, Howard says that “if it had gone on the conventional real estate market without limitations, it would almost certainly have been relocated or destroyed.”

The story of its saving is just one of many preservation stories that make up this fine book.

Finally, this colorful book is worth its price just for the many beautiful photos of buildings that Preservation North Carolina helped saved.

By D.G. Martin, a lawyer, retired as UNC system vice president for public affairs in 1997. He hosted PBC-NC’s “North Carolina Bookwatch,” for more than 20 years.

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The people who restored a historic mansion and a former department store in downtown Raleigh were among those receiving awards for their preservation work in North Carolina last month.

Others included a group that restored Durham’s earliest surviving cemetery for African Americans and a contractor credited with saving some of the city’s finest old homes from neglect.

The awards were given by Preservation North Carolina, the private, statewide nonprofit that works to protect and promote important buildings and sites. Each year, Preservation NC honors people, organizations and businesses for injecting new life into historic places at risk of disappearing.

Among this year’s winners:

  • Tina Konidaris and Jeff Turpin, who restored the Andrews-Duncan House on Raleigh’s North Blount Street. The state had owned the house since 1972 and let it sit empty and consumed by mold and overrun with raccoons for a decade. The couple spent more than three years and millions of dollars painstakingly restoring the 10,000-square-foot home, which is both a Raleigh Historic Landmark and on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s now home to them and their six children.
  • Empire Properties, which bought and renovated the Efird Building on Raleigh’s Fayetteville Street into new office and retail space. Built in 1935, the building was home to the Efird’s Department Store until Hudson Belk took it over in 1959. The three-story building, designed in a subtle Art Deco style, was later home to the N.C. State Bar Association. The Efird Building runs through the block to Salisbury Street, where the retail space is occupied by the DECO Raleigh gift shop.
  • Friends of Geer Cemetery, for its work to restore and maintain a burial ground that was active from the 1870s until the 1950s and was the only public cemetery available to Durham’s African American residents until the city created Beechwood in the 1920s. Geer Cemetery had become unrecognizable when the friends group was formed in 2003 to reclaim it and to begin documenting who is buried there. So far, the group has identified about 1,650 people who rest at Geer Cemetery.
  • TurnLight Partners of Durham, which has stabilized and restored several homes and others buildings built between the late 1800s and the 1950s. Led by owner Ken Gasch, the general contractor has taken on projects no one else would touch, including a two-story, century-old grocery building on Holloway Street that lost its rear wall during a rare East Coast earthquake in 2011.
  • Michelle Michael, for her 30 years of historic preservation work. Michael was the architectural historian at what is now Fort Liberty, before going to work for the Town of Wake Forest in 2014. As a planner, Michael has beefed up the town’s historic preservation program by helping update standards for historic districts and local landmarks, creating walking tour apps and hosting archaeology and property owner workshops.

By Richard Stradling, The News & Observer

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The Addor Community Center, Inc. in Pinebluff has been named the 2023 winner of the Stedman Incentive Grant presented annually by Preservation North Carolina (PNC), according to a press release from PNC.

Each year, the honor awards recognize outstanding people, projects, businesses, and organizations in the field of historic preservation across the state.

The Addor Community Center was honored in Durham on Oct. 4 as part of PNC’s annual historic preservation conference. The award ceremony featured a presentation, which can be viewed at, followed by a reception at the Hayti Heritage Center.

The Stedman Incentive Grant is awarded to recognize and assist nonprofit organizations in their efforts to preserve the state’s architectural heritage. Originating in 1976, the award is funded each year by the Marion Stedman Covington Foundation of Greensboro in memory of Marion’s father. The $15,000 grant encourages and facilitates the rescue of endangered historic and architecturally significant properties in North Carolina.

The Lincoln Park School, more commonly known as the Addor Community Center, was constructed in 1922 by the Rosenwald Southern Office in Nashville, Tennessee, said PNC. For 27 years, the building served as an African-American elementary school, high school, and community center for the rural population of Addor in southeastern Moore County.

The building is a largely intact example of the Rosenwald schools built for African American children throughout the South in the early twentieth century. Construction was funded through public funds, the Julius Rosenwald Fund and significant donations from the Black community.

The Lincoln Park School is an excellent example of the Rosenwald Four Teacher Community School — Floor Plan No. 400, designed to face east or west. It is a one-story gabled-roof frame building with four large classrooms. Of the fifteen Rosenwald schools built in Moore County, the Lincoln Park School is one of only two surviving, said PNC.

In 1949, the school closed its doors and was acquired by the Pinebluff Maternity and Welfare Committee a year later. The school has operated as the Addor Community Center since 1952, and a series of renovations turned the building into a fully functional center with computers, a library and a kitchen.

For decades, it was a rental space for family reunions or worship services. But by 2010, the building had begun to decline, and there was no longer a community board to oversee its maintenance.

In 2015, a new board was formed and set out to restore its beloved center but was met with challenges. In 2018, the building was damaged by hurricanes Florence and Michael.

The building sustained significant damage to the roof. Traps were placed at the northern corner of the building to hold back the inflow of water; however, due to continued water leakage, the damage has spread to the foundation, floors, and walls of the structure. Thankfully, the building received a grant in early 2021 from the state historic preservation office and National Park Service to address some of the damage, said PNC.

The Stedman Incentive Grant will fund a new roof and begin to secure the foundation of the building. The Addor Community is continuously putting in the time and effort to restore this building and make it an integral asset that adults and children alike can utilize. Preservation North Carolina is pleased to support the Addor Community Center in bringing this piece of history back to serve the community.

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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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Gertrude S. Carraway Award of Merit Awarded to Ludlow & Sheppard Houses in Winston-Salem

Winston-Salem, NC: Winston-Salem Historic Inns announced today that one of their properties, Summit Street Inns- comprised of the Jacob L. and Myra Ludlow House and Benjamin J. and Rosa H. Sheppard House- are the award recipients of the Gertrude S. Carraway Award of Merit from Perservation NC.  Owners Eric Alspaugh and Lou Baldwin accepted the award at Preservation NC’s Annual Conference that took place Wednesday night.  This milestone is a major move for Winston-Salem Historic Inns on its mission to uphold the authenticity and integrity of historical homes in Winston-Salem.

“It’s a big honor to receive this award from Preservation NC,” says Dr. Eric Alspaugh, project manager and designer of Summit Street Inns and co-owner of Winston-Salem Historic Inns. “We hope all of the citizens of Winston-Salem benefit from the life, character, and history of these magnificent structures.”

To learn more about the Gertrude S. Carraway Award of Merit given to Summit Street Inns, click here.

About Winston-Salem Historic Inns: Winston-Salem Historic Inns features two unique and significant historic properties in Downtown Winston-Salem: The Shaffner Inn & The Summit Street Inns. Each Inn represents different styles of architecture.  Inside The Shaffner Inn is a restaurant, Founders, which features an extensive breakfast and lunch menu six days a week. Winston-Salem Historic Inns is dedicated to providing an enchanting journey through history, where the elegance of the past harmoniously converges with the comforts of the present. Our mission is to create an immersive experience that celebrates the rich tapestry of heritage, offering guests a retreat into a world of refined luxury and captivating stories.

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HIGH POINT — Benjamin Briggs has come full circle in the world of historic preservation. In 1993, after buying and successfully restoring a fire damaged historic house on Johnson Street, Briggs received a distinguished award from Preservation North Carolina for the daunting project. Last month, some 30 years later, he was named president and CEO of Preservation North Carolina, a fitting culmination for a man who has given much of his adult life to historic preservation.

“I’ve had a strong working relationship with Preservation North Carolina going back to my first preservation project in High Point,” the 56-year-old High Point native said. “I’ve had this relationship with them for decades, so when I learned this position was opening up, I threw my hat in the ring and was fortunate enough to get the job.” He started on Aug. 1.

In accepting the Raleigh-based job, Briggs had to give up three preservation roles in the Triad that have been important to him — his full-time job as executive director of Preservation Greensboro, a position he’d held since 2003; his appointment to the Guilford County Historic Preservation Commission; and his role as president of the High Point Preservation Society, which he helped reorganize about seven years ago.

Gloria Halstead — who now lives in the house Briggs restored 30 years ago — has replaced him as president of the preservation society. “I’ve left them in very good hands,” Briggs said. “They have a board of super strong people who are motivated and talented.” Halstead described Briggs as “the embodiment of historic preservation.” “He is very knowledgeable about all things architecture,” she said. “Benjamin is always enthusiastic about preservation projects — nothing is too daunting or difficult — and he is eager to share his knowledge.”

In addition to the Johnson Street house he restored, Briggs has contributed to many other local projects, including the preservation of the city’s 1907 Southern Railway depot, the restoration of jazz legend John Coltrane’s childhood home, the restoration of a 1912 mill house in Highland Mill Village, and the renovation of the historic Mendenhall-Blair House, a large Quaker farmhouse believed to have been a stop on the Underground Railroad.

He holds a master’s degree in preservation studies from Boston University and taught historic preservation at Randolph Community College for five years. He also wrote a column for The High Point Enterprise that focused on local architecture and history. In 2019, Briggs was appointed to the Preservation North Carolina board, and the following year he accepted a position on the executive committee as secretary. Those roles gave him insight that should help him in his new job as president and CEO, he said. “This job is a big one with a lot of responsibility,” Briggs said. “It also takes a lot of time, but I’m excited about the opportunity.”

By: | 336-888-3579
High Point Enterprise

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by: Kassaundra Shanette Lockhart, Davidson Local

In July, it was announced that the former Dunbar High School building on Smith Ave. would be undergoing a transfer of ownership. The Catholic Diocese of Charlotte, who’d previously owned the property since 2009, donated the 10-acre Dunbar school tract Preservation North Carolina. The transfer was finalized on August 1.

A previously published press release from Preservation NC noted the structure was constructed in 1951 and named after African American poet and writer Paul Laurence Dunbar. The school served Black students during integration.

Its solid structure reflects an “interesting moment in the struggle to integrate schools,” said Preservation North Carolina President Myrick Howard. “The Dunbar School was built when North Carolina was investing more heavily in African American schools with the hope of making them ‘equal’ but Civil Rights cases were already raising questions about the future of the Jim Crow ‘separate but equal’ policy – which was ultimately struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1954.”

Currently, the organization is seeking to sell the property. Davidson Local contacted Preservation NC Regional Director Cathleen Turner to discuss the future of the city landmark..

  1. How did the Catholic Diocese of Charlotte & Preservation NC arrive at the decision to donate the property? Preservation NC remained in communication with the Diocese the whole time they owned it. We urged them to move forward with rehabbing the property or move on. This seemed like a good solution for all parties.

  2.  In a July press release, you all stated you’re “talking with parties who have the interest and know-how to renovate historic buildings.” In talking with these parties, are the desires of neighborhood residents being taken into consideration? If so, in what manner?  We are looking for purchasers who have the experience and capacity to do a $16+ million redevelopment of the long-vacant historic school.  They will create a redevelopment plan for the site and will no doubt consult with neighborhood residents. Our preservation covenants will manage changes to the visual and historical character of the site..

  3. Residents of the neighborhood were opposed to the building being used for housing. Will there be any discussions or meetings with residents to gather feedback during this time of transition? What is Preservation NC’s hopes/goals for the building? Our current exploration and discussions are preliminary given how early it is in the process and would include conversations with residents. Our initial RFP process prioritized a preservation-minded buyer with relevant development experience who would acquire the property for a use that will benefit the community and that is compatible with the historic building. We continue to support those priorities. The property is zoned Traditional Neighborhood Development that allows various uses including residential.  We know that there are neighbors who are supportive of residential use and want to see the building renovated as soon as possible, and that there are a lot of questions.  As stated above, any potential purchaser would consult with neighbors as part of the process.

  4. What is the current condition of the building? Has it been inspected recently? The building has been vacant for over ten years and has sustained damage from vandalism. It will require a complete rehabilitation by an experienced development team.

  5. The City of Lexington has made some ordinance changes since the last proposal was submitted for the building. How does this affect your process moving forward? Preservation NC’s process is to find a competent buyer who will follow the necessary local development requirements and processes.

  6.  Will Preservation NC pursue the building nomination for the National Register of Historic Places or is this something you’re hoping the buyer will do? Would this be required of the buyer? Completing the National Register nomination will document the historical and architectural significance of the property, while also making the project eligible for historic tax credits. Most developers choose to take this on themselves and we anticipate that will be the case here.

Recently, a listing of the property was added to Preservation NC’s website. It can be found here. The asking price is $200,000.

The City of Lexington will continue to maintain the park located at the school. On June 26, the City entered into a five-year lease agreement with Preservation NC. The local government entity will pay a yearly fee of one dollar.

The history and life stories of Black builders and architects in North Carolina are subjects of a traveling exhibit coming to the Museum of the Cape Fear beginning Sept. 6.

The museum, at 801 Arsenal Ave., will host Preservation North Carolina’s traveling exhibit “We Built This: Profiles of Black Architects and Builders in North Carolina.”

On display until the end of the year, the exhibit is part of a multifaceted education program that acknowledges and celebrates the Black builders and craftspeople who constructed or designed many of the state’s most treasured historic sites, according to a museum news release.

Spanning more than three centuries, “We Built This” provides more than two dozen personal profiles and historical context on key topics including slavery and Reconstruction; the founding of historically black universities and churches; the Jim Crow era and segregation; and the rise of Black civic leaders and professionals.

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The exhibit includes the story of Cicero Richardson, who was a brick mason in Fayetteville. At the age of 13 or 14 years, Cicero was determined to learn brick masonry. In 1832, with his Certificate of Freedom, he traveled alone 100 miles from New Bern to Fayetteville to begin an apprenticeship with Fayetteville brick mason Jacob Harris (1799-1847).

The Harrises were a prominent free Black family in Fayetteville. Cicero later married Jacob’s oldest child, Sarah Ann. The Harris family, including Cicero, migrated to Ohio in the 1850s to escape restrictive laws and increasing hostilities toward free Black people in North Carolina.

After the Civil War, Jacob Harris’s sons, Robert and Cicero (named after Cicero Richardson), returned to Fayetteville to teach with the American Missionary Association. Robert Harris would become the founding principal at the Howard School (1867) and the State Colored Normal School (1877), the predecessors of Fayetteville State University.

For more information about the exhibit, contact David Reid at or 910-500-4242 at the Museum of the Cape Fear or Demetrius Haddock at with the River Jordan Council on African American Heritage.

The Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday -Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. The museum operates under the Division of State History Museums, Office of Archives and History, within the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

Visit the museum website at

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WAKE FOREST — Senior Planner for Historic Preservation Michelle Michael has been named the 2023 winner of the Robert E. Stipe Professional Award.

Presented annually by Preservation North Carolina, the honor is the highest award presented to North Carolina professionals who demonstrate outstanding commitment to historic preservation above and beyond their job responsibilities, a news release says.

Established in 1983 to honor the contributions of Robert E. Stipe, an educator in the field of historic preservation and a mentor to a generation of preservation professionals, the award will be presented to Michael during Preservation North Carolina’s annual conference in Durham on Oct. 4.

Michael graduated with a master’s degree in Historic Preservation from the University of Georgia and a bachelor of arts from Meredith College.

As Wake Forest’s Senior Planner for Historic Preservation since 2015, Michael has played a leading role in several initiatives focused on preserving Wake Forest’s history, including the restoration of the Ailey Young House, the town says. She also introduced numerous historic district walking tours, a Northeast Community walking tour and virtual tours of local and downtown historic districts.

In addition, as the town liaison to the Historic Preservation Commission, she has organized HPC Archaeology Workshops and Historic Property Owner Workshops and is instrumental in producing the Wake Forest Woman’s Club and HPC’s Christmas Historic Home Tour.

“Michelle’s dedication to serving our community and passion for preserving Wake Forest’s history make her an especially deserving recipient of Preservation North Carolina’s 2023 Robert E. Stipe Professional Award,” said Planning Director Courtney Tanner.

By John Trump | The Wake Weekly

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WUNC | By Colin Campbell

The newest state historic site will spotlight the role of free Black residents in North Carolina during slavery.

State government will soon run the house in the tiny town of Milton where Thomas Day built a famed furniture business.

In the sleepy Caswell County town on the Virginia border, volunteers have been keeping the story of Day alive for decades. The furniture maker opened his workshop in Milton in the former Union Tavern in 1827.

Volunteer tour guide Joe Graves explains Day’s significance in North Carolina history.

“By 1850, he is the largest furniture maker in the state of North Carolina by a factor of four times,” he said. “What I mean by that is that his capital investment in his furniture-making business was four times that of the number-two person, the number-two business. So he was huge.”

Graves shows visitors several examples of Thomas Day’s furniture. Most of the pieces were provided by locals who found them in the historic homes that dot the town.

For years, Graves and the other volunteers have wanted to see the site grow and attract more visitors. But it’s hard to do as a small local nonprofit. Rather than posting set hours, a sign in the window gives passerby phone numbers to call to schedule a tour.

The state’s Department of Natural and Cultural Resources is now taking over the property. It will be the first new building added to the state historic sites program in decades. The state agency sees an opportunity to spotlight an overlooked aspect of North Carolina history that goes far beyond furniture and cabinets.

“I’m excited about the fact, and I know the department is excited about the fact that we’ll be able to kind of tell that story, not only through the lens of one man, Thomas Day, but the broader story of free people of color across the state of North Carolina during the antebellum period,” said Darin Waters, a deputy secretary at the department.

About 30,000 free Black residents were in the state at the start of the Civil War. They’d either bought their freedom from slavery or their mother had done so. But they still lived their lives under racial restrictions. Thomas Day had to seek action from the state legislature to be able to marry a free Black woman from Virginia. State law at the time prevented her from moving into North Carolina.

That experience is one of many wrinkles in Day’s business success story, according to State Historic Sites director Michelle Lanier.

“He does have a complex narrative,” she said, “in that he and his family did legally own enslaved people. And there’s record of him being aligned with people who were abolitionists. And so there are some parts of his story that require us to lean in with nuance and intellectual rigor that we don’t really see in many other narratives in North Carolina.”

That story largely isn’t told in the state’s other historic sites and museums. It’s why local and state leaders worked for years to acquire the Thomas Day House.

Efforts began when N.C. Sen. Mike Woodard, D-Durham, represented Caswell County, and accelerated when redistricting put the rural county in the district of powerful Senate leader Phil Berger.

Now the state owns both the house and a historic bank across the street, which will likely become a visitor’s center. That building is already run by the Milton Renaissance Foundation as a local history museum.

Funding in the pending state budget will allow for renovations at both buildings and to hire staff, Lanier says. While the budget isn’t final yet, both the House and Senate included more than $5 million over two years for the project.

“We will need to work to establish a really strong interpretive message that is well researched and… embracing these concepts of true inclusion and the power of place,” she said. “So there’s quite a road ahead of us.”

In the meantime, the local volunteers will keep giving tours. Milton Mayor Patricia Williams says she’s hoping to see a boost in tourism. She wants to market her town as a destination for history buffs from the Triad, Triangle, and beyond who want to check out historic homes and a main street that looks much as it did in the 1800s.

“We’re nicknamed a museum without walls,” she said. “Because you come through and you can’t believe that things still exist from that era, from during that time.”

The town was founded in the late 1700s for its proximity to the Dan River, but its commerce suffered when railroad lines went elsewhere. Milton has recently attracted new restaurants and businesses. An abandoned gas station across the street from the Thomas Day House was recently transformed into a beer garden.

Williams thinks the historic site will put Milton on the map for more tourists – much the way Day’s furniture showroom drew out-of-town visitors nearly 200 years ago.

“I think it’s going to be a huge benefit financially for the town of Milton, and I think it would be the survival card for the town of Milton to continue to exist and not dry up,” she said.

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CHARLOTTE — A historic landmark, that was the Wilmore School, in the middle of South End development will not be demolished.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools voted to sell it for just over $8 million.

CMS Director of Real Estate Dennis Lacaris said the transaction will put to rest concerns that the four-acre site will not be razed.

You don’t preserve it for five years, knock it down. You don’t preserve it for 10 years, then knock it down. It’s got to be preserved in perpetuity,” Lacaris said.

The Historic Preservation Foundation of North Carolina, which represents the private buyer, is ensuring it will be preserved.

“The community at large, if anybody’s paying attention, has known that this school has been shuttered and closed, and deteriorating for decades now,” said Jack Thomson, the regional director for the foundation.

There will be opportunities for the public to weigh in on what it could be even though there are no specifics about what the property will be in the future.

“It (funds) generally goes toward housing,” Thomson said. “We hope in this case, something’s that a more affordable housing component in the school, itself.”

“Could be a cool, smaller Optimist Hall where it’s a food hall, different restaurant options,” said nearby resident Aida Smailagic.

He is comforted by whatever happens, it will be a historic landmark.

“Just how unique everything is,” Smailagic said. “All the houses are very different, and Wilmore has been kind of historic to Charlotte.”

He added, “This area is obviously getting developed by the day, so I think it could be an awesome something.”

There will be public hearings with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission to get input from the community on what should be done inside the Wilmore School.

However, any redevelopment plans must go through the city’s standard rezoning process.

Click here to view the article

LEXINGTON, N.C. (WGHP) — New plans are emerging for the former Dunbar Junior and Senior High School in Lexington.

The school was built in 1951 and named after African American poet and writer Paul Laurence Dunbar. For more than a decade, it was the sole all-black school for African American kids in Lexington until de-segregation.

Susie Crump Baker was there in 1964 before integration happened. She tells FOX8 it’s tough for her to remember some things, but she recalls her time at Dunbar well.

“It was a wonderful school to come to. The teachers were nice and made you mind and act like you were a human,” Baker said.

Baker says it was a school that molded good students and good human beings.

“I loved that school, and I hate to see it sitting here like it is,” Baker said.

Baker is referring to the school’s now run down appearance. Doors are boarded up, and glass is smashed out of the auditorium windows.

The school closed in 2008. In 2009, it was purchased by the Catholic Diocese of Charlotte with the hopes of working with developers to convert the school into affordable housing for seniors.

Developers weren’t able to secure the proper tax credits to make the project feasible during the economic downturn, leading the Diocese to donate the school back to Preservation North Carolina.

“It’s a big project. It’s 85,000 square feet of building and 10 acres of land,” said Myrick Howard, president of Preservation North Carolina.

According to Howard, the project could cost anywhere from $10 to $12 million. Despite the change in ownership, the plan is still the same.

“The expectation is that it will be some form of affordable, workforce housing. It’s not zoned for other uses, and it’s really not located well for other uses,” Howard said.

Howard expects developers to keep the building intact. Howard says it was designed by a prestigious architecture firm at the time. The good bones of the school, though, have complicated roots.

“There’s a period in the 50s and 60s where the best schools in North Carolina were being built for African American students,” Howard said. “They were trying to catch up from 75 to 100 years of neglect, Jim Crow and slavery before that.”

Lynn Jowers is another former student who likes the idea of Dunbar being turned into housing for more people. She went there in the 70s after the school was integrated.

“Now we’re all equal and hopeful they’ll do something where we can all come together and it be a place where we can all be,” Jowers said.

Alumni hope to create an even bigger Dunbar family.

“We were just like family,” Baker said.

Preservation North Carolina is fielding interest from developers but can’t move forward with any official plans until the building donation is complete this month.

by: Madison Forsey, Fox 8

Click here to view the full article

By Sharon Myers, The Dispatch

LEXINGTON – The longtime saga of Dunbar High School has added another chapter after a proposed project to convert the building into apartments for senior citizens has fallen through.

The property, which served as the only high school for African Americans prior to integration in the 1960s, is being donated by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte to Preservation North Carolina.

“It’s about time,” said Charles Owens, president of the Dunbar Preservation Society.

Owens, who has been at the forefront of the fight to have Dunbar High School recognized (and protected) as a historically significant building in Lexington, said he is pleased that there has finally been movement in the cause but is frustrated with the time it has taken.

“I am upset we have wasted 15 years of it not being used, and it getting … (rundown),” he said. “It should be a protected property, and it should continue to be maintained and used as a community center.”

Built in 1951 on Smith Avenue, Dunbar High School served as the only high school for the Black community in Lexington before the end of segregation. It was then used as an elementary school and renamed Charles England Elementary School until a new school was built on Cornelia Street in 2007.

The old school was closed in 2008, and the property reverted to its former name and was put up for sale by Lexington City Schools. It was purchased by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte in 2009, which originally planned on renovating the property.

Over the years, for one reason or another, the school has been left unoccupied, and no repairs or renovations have been completed.

In 2021, the diocese agreed to sell the property to Shelter Investments Development Corp., which submitted plans for turning the old school into apartments for senior citizens.

But SIDC was unable to secure necessary federal housing tax credits for the project, and the diocese retained ownership.

In 2022, the diocese decided to donate the 10-acre property to the non-profit Preservation North Carolina. They are in the process of finalizing the agreement, said Anthony Morlando, director of properties and real estate for the diocese.

“This site is a unique asset with tons of potential for the community, so we’re looking forward to see what Preservation North Carolina can achieve,” he said. “We believe they have access to a broader array of resources that will be critical to development of the site, and we’re glad to play a small part of preserving the history and heritage of Dunbar School.”

Founded in 1939, Preservation North Carolina is the state’s only private nonprofit historic preservation organization. Its mission is to protect and promote buildings, landscapes and sites important to the heritage of North Carolina.

Cathleen Turner, regional director of Preservation North Carolina’s Piedmont office, said the organization will begin preliminary plans to determine the costs associated with rehabilitation of the property.

“We’re grateful for the diocese’s generosity and continued commitment to preservation, and we’re thrilled to have a new opportunity for the renovation of the Dunbar School for the benefit of the community,” Turner said. “We’re already talking with parties who have the interest and know-how to renovate historic buildings. We’ll be working as quickly as possible to create an achievable development plan that is sensitive and appropriate.”

Preservation NC has also contracted with the city of Lexington to maintain the school’s  ballfield and playground as a community park.

Click here to view the article on The Dispatch

A furniture maker’s slow transformation of a 218-year-old “little slice of time”

By Ray Owen

An hour southeast of Southern Pines is Purdie Place, a plantation house set on a high bluff overlooking the Cape Fear River in the little town of Tar Heel. Since 2018, a great renewal has taken place at the house through the restoration efforts of Andrew Ownbey, a traditional woodworker and lover of history.

The home was built sometime around 1803 by James S. Purdie, who made his fortune through the labor 28 enslaved workers bleeding pines of their resin for turpentine, tar and pitch. Purdie served as sheriff of Bladen County in the 1780s and was a private in the Continental Line during the American Revolution.

Purdie Place is a stately brick edifice with double galleries facing the river and road sides and a rare exterior stair on the riverside porch. It is one of a few remaining plantation houses that once dotted early maps along the river.

Ownbey purchased the property through Preservation North Carolina, a statewide organization that protects historic sites. A preservationist, furniture maker and antique dealer, he is widely recognized for his expertise, serving on the boards of Friends of the Museum of the Albemarle and Hope Plantation and lecturing for the Society of American Period Furniture Makers.

“I got into antiques and history through my dad,” says Ownbey. “He was an Antebellum and Civil War Era history buff and the most influential person in my life as a child. When I was around 16, I met a man named Randy Harrell who became my mentor. Randy took down old buildings and put them back up and I was just amazed.”

“It didn’t really grab hold of me until I was in my mid 20s. It was almost overnight. My wife looked at me one day and it was like ‘what’s wrong with you?’ I couldn’t get enough. It was fun and it kept me away from reality, away from what I did for a living at the time.”

Formally trained in heavy diesel technology, Ownbey spent 14 years as a technician. Mechanically minded, the work came easy for him, but it got to a point where he despised his job and so he chose a different path.

“I started collecting furniture from the area,” says Ownbey. “I began going to auction and estate sales and meeting collectors. At first, they saw me bidding and started asking questions about ‘this kid in his 20s’ running them up. It’s funny thinking back, them wondering how I knew about this stuff.”

“I’m more a laborer than an academic,” he says. “Scholars typically aren’t the people doing the actual work. I never use the word ‘self-taught’ even though I don’t have a lot of formal training. Someone always showed me, whether it was copying something or studying furniture I took apart. In any case, I didn’t invent any of these processes.”

“I don’t fit the mold of my generation,” Ownbey continues. “Interest in history is fading fast among my age group, not only written history but tangible history, things you can touch and hold. My generation doesn’t appreciate those things, they only go for a look. I go a lot deeper than a superficial ‘it’s old and looks good’ kind of thing.”

“My friends think I’m different, they all laugh at me but they like it. Honestly, I have a lot of friends that really appreciate what I do. They come to the house and ask a lot of questions, but could care less about owning a piece of history. I do have a few friends who have bought old furniture from me.”

“I always wanted an early house but couldn’t afford one. In my 20s, we started having kids and bought a craftsman bungalow. I began moving any little 18th or 19th century buildings I could find to restore beside our house. I ended up saving structures nobody else would have ever touched. Looking back, I’m glad I did, otherwise they’d be gone.”

“When you save history, you’ve saved a little slice of time that represents a way of life,” says Ownbey. “The tangible object reflects the one that made it or the one who commissioned it. As a conservationist, I get to save something that somebody else created. It’s not mine. I’m just the steward, the caretaker. I’m only here for a brief period in the grand scheme of things.”

“As for Purdie Place, it was home to a number of people of importance, especially veterans of the Revolutionary War and the American Civil War. It was also home to a senator and a congressman and a Confederate Congress member named T.D. McDowell. The McDowells don’t get much credit but they essentially ran the estate through the Antebellum Era.”

“Before we found this house, if I was to make a list of everything I’d like to find in an historic property, Purdie’s got it. The style is early with Flemish bond brick construction, double porticos or porches, nine-over-nine windows upstairs and down, good sized rooms but not a mansion, and it’s back off the road but not too far from civilization on a 45-acre tract of land.”

“There are layers of history when you view it from an architectural standpoint,” says Ownbey. “But the beauty of the house is as much the setting as it is the house. When you come through the gate and it opens up, there’s an air of history here. It’s a little bit isolated. You just feel like you’ve stepped back in time when you come through the gate.”

“The house was in reasonably good condition and had been essentially shut up for about 20 years,” says Ownbey. “The power was still on but nobody lived here. Everything was mildewed and just dirty. We did about two or three weeks of a really deep cleaning of the house and it brought it back to life.”

The infrastructure required a complete overall, plumbing, heating and air, and things like that. There were some major structural issues to an addition that was brought up and attached to the left rear of the house as a modern kitchen. There was a lot of water damage where the roof had leaked, but the main brick section of the house was in fantastic condition.

The surprising thing is not much is known about the house even though it’s a county landmark on the National Register. Ownbey has probably uncovered more questions than answers: “I certainly wonder who walked through the doors, standing in the hall, seeing the thresholds so worn. I think about all those who came and went and probably will for the rest of my life.”

Click here to view the article in Sandhills Magazine online (with photos)

LINCOLNTON – After an 18-year tenure at the helm of an organization often called the “animal shelter for old, historic properties,” N.C. Sen. Ted Alexander has stepped down as regional director of the western office of Preservation North Carolina (PNC).

The agency also has a new home – in the Pleasant Retreat Academy on East Pine Street in downtown Lincolnton, a building PNC was instrumental in preserving. This building also houses Lincoln Landmarks, Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to preserving historic structures of Lincoln County.

“I’ve been involved in the field of historic preservation for 43 or more years now,” Alexander said. “I’ve been a member of PNC for just about all that time. I’d worked in the areas of downtown revitalization and main street preservation programs.”

The western office covers 37 counties, including Lincoln, Mecklenburg and Iredell. There’ve been numerous projects Alexander remembers with great fondness, including Ingleside in Denver.

“I think we’ve probably protected well over 200 properties in the 18 years I’ve been with Preservation North Carolina,” he said. “The First Presbyterian Church in Lincolnton was a major project. We’ve been helping the Mount Vernon Rosenwald School (Iron Station) and I’ve been pleased with their progress.”

Not all the efforts have been total successes.

“Sometimes you get a project that’s not an A+ project, but you move the needle,” he said. “You just hope the next person who comes along will move it a little further. There’s been a few instances where the timing wasn’t good or the circumstances didn’t allow it because the building was in too bad a condition.”

Now that he’s a senator, Alexander said he wanted more time to devote to that work.

“Also, I’m turning 62 and I want to do other things in life,” he said. “I have a lot of pride when I drive by a property that I was involved in restoring. It makes me feel like I made a difference. That’s what it’s all about.”

Joining PNC with many years of historic properties experience, new regional director Jack Thomson, who lives on a historic farm in Huntersville and was previously executive director of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission, considers his PNC post a “dream job.”

“I’ve been in historic preservation on the nonprofit side for almost 20 years,” he said. “Working for Preservation North Carolina has been an unspoken goal for several years. It seemed like the right opportunity being a Western North Carolina boy so I threw my hat in the ring. Ted and I have worked together closely for two decades in similar roles.”

Thomson added those who work with PNC are not “hysteric preservationists” who realize they live in a modern world that needs to accommodate growth.

“We don’t want everything frozen in amber, but we do want the important historic and cultural resources that survive to remain,” Thomson said. “I think there’s plenty of opportunity to find a good balance to do that. When we roll up to a property, it’s often in bad shape and we’re the call of last resort in a lot of cases. Sometimes it’s too late, most times it’s not. We work with visionaries – people who can see the intangible history that’s represented in the physical presence of what remains.”

“These old buildings are our tangible connection to our ephemeral past,” he added. “Without them, it’s much more difficult for the community at large to have any understanding of where they came from.”

by Michelle T. Bernard, Lake Norman Media Group

Click here to view the article online

Juneteenth, also known as “Emancipation Day”, is an annual day to mark the end of slavery in America. The Emancipation Proclamation, which freed those enslaved in Confederate states, was issued by Lincoln in 1863. However, the news did not reach Texas until the war ended in 1865. On June 19th that year, Union troops reached Galveston and formerly enslaved Texans celebrated with music, prayers, and feasting. Juneteenth has been a holiday in Texas for many years but only became a Federal holiday in 2021.

The Bellamy Mansion Museum is honoring Juneteenth by establishing an annual $1000 scholarship for a graduate student of the UNCW public history program. Executive Director Gareth Evans notes, “Our museum site features a unique, restored, 1859 slave quarters and a centerpiece of our historical interpretation is the story of those enslaved at this site. The intention of the scholarship is to provide funding to traditionally underrepresented, diverse students in UNCW’s History department. It’s fitting that an educational resource like this should keep trying to broaden the field of public history with our partners at UNCW.”

All bourbons must start somewhere. This one starts with an anniversary present, albeit a tumbledown one. Specifically, an abandoned grist mill gifted by Raleigh, North Carolina, realtor Jason Queen to wife Jeanne, who shares an interest in historic preservation, on their tenth wedding anniversary.

Located in Alamance County, west of Raleigh, Cook’s Mill has origins that stretch back to the Colonial Era, and it was a gathering spot in the region that spawned the Regulator Movement, a 1760s armed insurrection that many historians consider a catalyst to the American Revolution.

“Our idea was to make it into a weekend getaway for ourselves, a cool spot to hang out,” Queen says. “But when we got in there and realized what a special place this is, we decided that wasn’t the right move.”

Instead, the couple struck upon the daunting objective of restoring it as a working mill. Then a cleaning uncovered several sacks of corn that likely had been tucked away when the mill ceased operation more than fifty years ago. Though an analysis by North Carolina State University’s agriculture department showed the corn to be of no special provenance, the process sparked the big idea of harvesting locally produced heirloom corn to distill bourbon.

“People forget that North Carolina was a major whiskey producer before Prohibition,” Queen says. “I’ve heard that the state actually has better, or more consistent, seasons for aging bourbon than does Kentucky.”

Working through the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, five North Carolina farmers have been enlisted to grow five rare, heirloom corn varieties: Southern Beauty, Jimmy Red, Jackie Freeman, Levi Mallard, and Leco Milling. (South Carolina’s High Wire Distilling also has introduced a bourbon made of Jimmy Red.) “These varieties have been identified by the agriculture people as having the potential to make some good bourbon,” Queen says. “The cool thing is that we’ll have the ability to blend batches, or to distill limited releases that focus on just one variety. It’s possible it’s been 250 years since anyone has used some of these varieties to make whiskey.”

For the business side of things, the Queens brought on partner Morgan Chapman, a beverage industry vet who cut his teeth as the bar manager at Charleston’s lauded farm-to-table restaurant McCrady’s. Meanwhile, starting a bourbon literally from the ground up takes time, so until the heirloom juice ages until spring 2024, the initial Cook’s Mill bourbon expression, introduced last October, is distilled from more readily available North Carolina–grown corn. It drinks with a full-bodied sweetness balanced by the spice of ample rye in the mash bill. “It’s nice to again show the world that North Carolina has every competency needed to make really good bourbon,” Queen says.

Bringing the project full circle, a portion of the proceeds from sales is going back to the ongoing restoration of the mill. “Our plan is to be able to grind flour and grits and such, and also grind our own mash bill there,” Queen says. “In the end, the bourbon is the solution to saving the mill.”

By Steve Russell, Garden & Gun

Click here to read the article online

For over 130 years, Raleigh’s first Union Station, formerly called Union Depot, has stood on the corner of Dawson and Martin streets, overlooking Nash Square in the Warehouse District.

It’s a far cry from its glory days after a 1980s remodel, but parts remain: The platform and viaduct are no longer there, but the head house, built in the Romanesque Revival-style, survives as an office building, minus its tower. Much of its original red brick façade, now painted white, also endures, including the coal chute that used to heat the station.

But is that enough to save this relic from the city’s past? It’s now in the hands of the buyer.

Avison Young recently listed 224 S. Dawson St., with a goal of getting about $8 million for it, the Triangle Business Journal first reported.

Legal Aid of North Carolina, which currently owns and occupies the building, plans to move to an office off Rock Quarry Road.

The two-story 29,000-square-foot building sits on about a half-acre within the Depot National Historic District — though it’s not listed on the National Register of Historic Places — and is being advertised as a “redevelopment opportunity.”

“We’re bullish on this asset’s popularity,” listing agent Marcus Jackson told The N&O. “It has limitless flexibility.”


The building has an assessed value of around $5.9 million, and is zoned for up to five stories. However, there’s “heavy precedent” for greater density in the immediate area, the listing notes, with surrounding lots already zoned for up to 20 and 40 stories.

At the opposite corner on Martin and Dawson Streets, a New York developer is already making plans for a 36-story luxury residential tower.

“Odds are it will be very high-density residential, either rental or condos,” Jackson said.

Not everyone is thrilled by the prospect.

Cathleen Turner, regional director at Preservation NC, said the building represents a “significant piece” of Raleigh’s history, even though it doesn’t have designated status. She’d like to see it preserved, especially considering its prominent location within the district, which was separately listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.

The lower-density building provides a much-needed buffer, she added, between the high-rise office buildings of the central business district to the east, and the more “human-scale” residential to the west.

“With every sale and redevelopment, we’re losing a bit of that,” she said.

In its heyday, the Depot District was a wholesale distribution hub that included freight and passenger depots, warehouses, factories, hotels, cafes and shops dating back to the 1880s.

When it opened in 1892, Union Station became the epicenter, serving three passenger rail lines with a total of four tracks, connecting New York with Florida. By the late 1950s, many of the factory and warehouse buildings fell out of use.

In recent years, the district has transformed once again. It’s now a mix of art museums, restaurants and retail. Century-old buildings that helped make its namesake are giving way to high rises with the opening of Raleigh Union Station and The Dillon, a mixed-use tower and residential development.

“It would be sad to see it chipped away until there’s really nothing left,” Turner said. “Frankly, we [may] need to start calling it: “Formerly Known As The Warehouse District’.”

By Chantal Allam, The News & Observer

Click here to read the story and view photos 

William Benjamin Gould’s remarkable life, leading from bondage in the antebellum South to a daring escape and service in the Union Navy, was celebrated over Memorial Day weekend with the dedication of a bronze statue in Dedham, the town where he settled and raised his family after the Civil War.

The emotional unveiling of Gould’s dignified seated figure took place on the centennial anniversary of his death and in the presence of his great-grandson, William B. Gould IV, a retired Stanford Law professor, whose father grew up in the nearby family homestead on the Boston-Dedham line.

Several of Gould’s great-great-great grandchildren pulled on a black cloth to reveal the contemplative image, but the fabric snagged, requiring the aid of two 54th Massachusetts Regiment re-enactors to use their long bayonets to lift the cloth and complete the unveiling.

Several hundred Dedham residents, gathered to witness the ceremony at William B. Gould Park, broke into applause. The re-enactors fired volleys of tribute from their Springfield percussion-cap muskets into the still spring air.

In remarks to the audience, Gould IV, 86, said that on a family trip to Wilmington, N.C., where his great-grandfather worked as an enslaved plasterer, they saw no statues of any Black veterans of the Civil War but passed by many of Confederate soldiers.

“Statues cannot be viewed as neutral and they do not exist in a vacuum. They project the memories of the past and the values associated with them,” Gould IV said.

“When the time capsules contained within this statue are opened, 100 and 200 years from now, it may be that William B. Gould’s values, expressed in war and peace here in Dedham, will in some way shape or promote the discussions of future generations.”

Those values led all of Gould’s six sons into military service, some as officers, in the Spanish-American War and World War I. The father was a founder of the Church of the Good Shepherd in Dedham’s Oakdale Square, where he did the plastering work on the Episcopalian sanctuary’s interior.

The church honored the Dedham veteran during a Sunday morning service with the family seated in the same pew occupied by the Goulds for decades before the family dispersed around the country.

…Click here to continue reading the full article

On the summer evening young Fred Glenn sat on a bench watching a movie projected on a screen outside Baltimore Village School in Cramerton, he could not in his wildest dreams have imagined he one day would own the school building and the land on which it sits and lead a movement to preserve and restore the historic site.

In the intervening years, Glenn graduated from Reid High School in Belmont, studied mechanical engineering at North Carolina A&T, served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam and worked as a certified tool and die maker. After years of watching the one-room school his mother had attended deteriorate in the village where he grew up. Glenn bought the building and the land around it, with, as he puts it, “no idea what I’d do with it.”

He has an idea now. It’s a big one. And he came to a recent meeting of the Belmont Rotary Club to talk about it. Glenn now serves as president of the nonprofit Baltimore Village School Inc. Joining him in the Rotary Club presentation was John Howard, vice president. Also attending were organization secretary Wendy Cauthen and board member Ernestine Glenn, who is Fred Glenn’s wife.

The 17 homes still remaining in Baltimore village are on a hillside along the South Fork River off Cramer Mountain Road between downtown Cramerton and New Hope Road. The school was built in 1925 by mill owner Stuart W. Cramer to be used by the African American residents of Cramerton. Children from kindergarten through eighth grade attended, often bringing with them brothers and sisters too young to attend school.

Baltimore Village School was one of seven one-room schools built in Gaston County, and it is the only one remaining. It ceased operation as a school in the 1950s, but continued to serve as a community center for many years.

“We couldn’t go to the community center in town or the theater,” Glenn said.

He also recounted stories from his childhood of Charlotte’s WBTV personality cowboy Fred Kirby and his horse entertaining residents at neighborhood get-togethers.

The building, which is about 900 square feet, has been vacant for decades and narrowly escaped being burned in a fire department training exercise in the late 1990s. That’s about when Glenn began considering how to save the building and finally decided to purchase it in 2003 and put protective measures in place to prevent further damage.

Ten years later the school was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places Study List, and in 2020, it was designated as a historic structure by the Gaston County Historic Preservation Commission, the first in Cramerton.

Baltimore Village School Inc. was formed in 2022 and obtained 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. The organization’s goal is to restore the school and continue using it as a community center and a museum displaying the history of the Baltimore Village neighborhood and the African American community’s contribution to Cramerton and Gaston County.

To make that dream come true will require raising $500,000 for construction, grading and parking, furnishings, exhibits, landscaping and operating costs. A major HUD grant has been awarded to the town of Cramerton, and from that $210,000 has been allocated to the school preservation project. Several smaller grants have also been received. But much more will be needed to restore Baltimore Village School and make it once again a community center and a museum devoted to educating future generations.

How you can help:

Tax-deductible contributions can be sent to Baltimore Village School Inc., PO Box 195, Cramerton, NC 28032. For more information and how to volunteer or donate online, go to

By Ted Hall
Click here to view the article and photos on the Gaston Gazette’s website.

NEWLAND — Avery County Board of Commissioners had a lot of ground to cover at its meeting on Monday, April 3, including a presentation on housing in the county and further discussions on the fate of the Avery CARES building.

During public comment, nine individuals spoke on the Avery CARES building. Following the announcement that the building was deemed irreparable and the commissioners’ decision to tear down the building, the board received numerous complaints from citizens that the building is historic and holds much sentimental value to a lot of people. Built by the WPA in the 1940s, community members shared their memories of the building as it was the library, community center, teen center, place for prom and dances, home for AA and NA and much more.

Speakers shared that they had fond memories of the building, whether it be from hanging out there as a teenager or if it was the reason one of their loved ones found sobriety. Several emphasized that the building impacted nearly everyone in the community in some way, while others explained that families and lives were saved thanks to the AA and NA programs the building housed.

The commissioners have already voted to tear the building down and build a probation and parole office in its space, but that vote can be reconsidered if there are other viable options for the building, commissioner Chair Martha Hicks explained. If there is an option that won’t cost the taxpayers a large chunk of money, they will look at it and consider it, Commissioner Dennis Aldridge said.

Jack Thomson, western office regional director of Preservation North Carolina, kicked off the public comments on the Avery CARES building by telling the board about what his organization does. Preservation NC is a nonprofit that aims to protect and save buildings and landscapes that represent the state’s unique culture and heritage.

“Preservation NC acquires endangered historic properties and then finds purchasers willing and able to rehabilitate them,” according to the organization’s website. “It has saved more than 800 endangered historic properties, generating an estimated $350 million in private investment. Many of the saved properties have truly been community landmarks.”

Thomson, a native of Avery County, shared that he has received numerous calls regarding the Avery CARES building. As a building that is obviously important to the community, he said, his organization would be willing to work with the county and see what it could do to help.

  • Avery is losing residents to Watauga County, but is also losing them to residential areas such as Asheville, Charlotte, Winston-Salem and Spartanburg.
  • In Avery, 3,660 residents are employed outside the county; 3,532 people commute to Avery to work. More than 60% of nonresidents surveyed said they would move here if they had somewhere to live, he said.
  • The number of cost-burdened residents, which means that they pay more than 30% of their income to housing, is 598 renters and 993 homeowners. Around 37 renters and 94 homeowners live in substandard conditions.
  • All apartments seem to be full, and there are no apartments serving the annual income range of $52,000 to $70,000.
  • Avery has a 99.6% occupancy rate. In a healthy market, that number should not be higher than 96%, he said.
  • In addition to a high demand for senior care facility housing, there is a high occupancy rate in those facilities, especially when compared to national rates.
  • In order to afford a modern house, meaning it was built in 1990 or sooner, a household would need to have an income of $140,000 or higher.
  • Out of the 145 houses for sale at the time of the study, 96 of them were more than $300,000. No houses were available for less than $99,000, and only 10 homes were available for less than $200,000.

The full report will be available on the county’s website soon, Barrier said.

Barrier announced that the paperwork for the GREAT grant is finally almost complete. It is in the final stages of being signed and approved by the internet service provider, county and any other third party partners. Once this paperwork is done, the opportunity to apply for the CAB grant is supposed to open, he said.

In other news and notes:

  • The commissioners approved the Avery County Board of Education’s request that the $354,000 needed to replace the bleachers at ACHS be requested to come from the state lottery funds.
  • Sheriff Mike Henley and Chief Deputy Van Williams explained that ACSO has acquired 44 handguns since Henley took office, replacing all the existing handguns the office had. The existing handguns were in varying condition, but Henley also wanted to change to a caliber that is cheaper and more readily available. Handguns went to patrol positions, both those that are existing and the ones that need to be filled, detectives and detention officers, and a number of them went into storage as backup.
  • Barrier reported that the property located near the area prison is not going to work for reentry housing, so Barrier has asked for an environmental review and extension for the CDBG reentry housing grant.
  • Feeding Avery Families’ open house at its new facility will be on Wednesday, April 26.
  • The commissioners passed a proclamation deeming April 2023 as Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

County offices will be closed on Friday, April 7, for Good Friday. In May through October, the commissioners will meet twice a month, on the first and third Monday. There will be a public input session on the national opioid settlement from 10 a.m. to noon on Monday, April 24, in the commissioners boardroom. The commissioners will hold a workshop at 1 p.m. on Thursday, April 27. Avery County Board of Commissioners’ next regular meeting will be at 3:30 p.m. on Monday, May 1.

In December 1917, Richard Joshua Reynolds, his wife, Katharine, and their children moved from their house on “millionaires’ row” in downtown Winston-Salem, “with its turrets, gables and wraparound porch where tobacco men smoked cigars on Sunday afternoons,” to their new home on their country estate: Reynolda.

In the decades that followed, dozens of families who made their fortunes in tobacco and textiles built grand houses in the suburbs (Stratford Road marked the city limits in the early 20th century), material evidence of the prosperity of Winston-Salem, which in 1931 was known as “the town of 100 millionaires.”

Margaret Supplee Smith, Harold W. Tribble Professor of Art Emerita at Wake Forest University, writes about 75 of those residences in “Great Houses and Their Stories: Winston Salem’s ‘Era of Success,’ 1912-1940,” which was published by Preservation North Carolina last year but already is in its third printing. The stunning photography is by architectural photographer Jackson Smith.

“Great Houses” is for preservationists, local history buffs and architecture lovers. It is also for those of us for whom the “great houses” have simply become part of the passing urban landscape. And if you’re looking for enticing tidbits about the lifestyles of the rich and famous, there’s enough to keep you entertained.

What sets “Great Houses and Their Stories” apart from other books of its type is the final chapter, “Great Houses Do Not Run Themselves,” in which Margaret Smith introduces the reader to the housemaids — upstairs and downstairs — chauffeurs, cooks, governesses, butlers and gardeners, which is to say, the workers, mostly but not exclusively Black, “who kept it all going.”

While some domestic workers lived on the premises, often in garage apartments, most lived elsewhere in the city — primarily in East Winston — and rode the bus to work.

The hours often were long, and the pay was low. Thirty-nine-year-old Addie Woodruff, who began working as a child care nurse when she was just 12 years old, earned an annual salary as a cook of $9,500 in today’s money.

But options were limited in the South for Black women. Smith notes, “Black women looking for paid work had little choice but to become domestic servants and clean the houses, cook the meals, care for the children and do the laundry of white families.”

Thanks to “Great Houses,” the “help” are no longer anonymous figures standing in the back of old black-and-white family photos in crisply starched uniforms.

Smith introduces them by name.

Mabel Smith, nanny. Jim Martin, cook. Lisa Little Worton, housekeeper. Cora Bailey, cook. John Carter, steward.

Addie Siewers appears in a photo with five Womble children and their pony, Gentry, on a family vacation in the North Carolina mountains.

The greatest act of respect one can show for another person is to listen to his or her story. One’s story is the content and meaning of one’s life. To listen to and retell another person’s story is to pay respect to a life.

Margaret Smith notes that “most stories about domestic workers in Winston Salem have not been captured.” Drawing on interviews with children and grandchildren of both the early occupants of the “great houses” and of those who served them, plus the meager information that could be extracted from census records and city directories, Margaret Smith tells some of those stories.

Dock Grier worked 47 years in the Hanes household. He was retained as “plant coordinator” when the mansion became the home of the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art. The library at SECCA was named in his honor.

Joanne, a granddaughter of Cephus Alphonso Grier, chauffeur for Pleasant Henderson Hanes, founder of Hanes Knitting Co., married Phillip Cousin, who became a bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Church and who, in 1984, became the first Black president of the National Council of Churches.

Oscar-nominated actress Pam Grier was the granddaughter of Clarence Grier, Cephus Alphonso Grier’s brother.

“These are the stories of just a few of the men, women, and sometimes children who were essential to the smooth functioning of the great households of Winston-Salem,” Margaret Smith said in the very last sentence of “Great Houses.”

Lest we be smug, the stories of the workers who roof and paint our houses or who mow our lawns and work in our fields have not been, and probably never will be, “captured.”

Though they, too, play a significant part in keeping it all going, we don’t know their stories either.

By Richard Groves
Click here to view the article on the Greensboro News and Record

Click here to purchase Great Houses and Their Stories: Winston-Salem’s “Era of Success,” 1912-1940

Tennis superstar Venus Williams has teamed up with conceptual artist Adam Pendleton to preserve the house where the late singer Nina Simone grew up.

In collaboration with the National Trust’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, Williams is raising money to renovate the North Carolina property.

The fundraising endeavor will be two-fold, and include both an auction of “exceptional works donated by internationally renowned contemporary artists” conducted by Sotheby’s, beginning online May 11 and closing May 22 — as well as a ticketed gala at Manhattan’s Pace Gallery on May 20.

“Through this project, the Action Fund aims to restore the birthplace of musical icon and civil rights activist Nina Simone in Tryon, North Carolina,” reads a press release on the National Trust for Historic Preservation website, adding that Simone’s cultural legacy is “of great personal significance to all the artists donating work.”

Simone, who was born Eunice Waymon in 1933, spent her childhood in the three-room clapboard house — attending church with her mother, a Methodist preacher.

It was during this time that community members recognized Simone’s nascent talent and the then 6-year-old prodigy began taking private piano lessons.

Eventually, in 1950, she moved to New York City to attend Julliard — then began performing in Atlantic City, changed her name, and gradually became the High Priestess of Soul and a Civil Rights activist, according to her estate.

She passed away in 2003, at the age of 70.

Until 2017, “little was known” about the humble house she came of age in when Pendleton and a group of other artists — Ellen Gallagher, Rashid Johnson, and Julie Mehretu — decided to jointly purchase it, to safeguard its legacy.

Now, a variety of groups and individuals are working together to decide how best to preserve the space.

Currently, those involved are undecided if the house should be maintained as it is or renovated to include a modern amenity-equipped expansion that could be used as an artist residency.

By Hannah Fishberg at NY Post

George Smart is an unlikely preservationist, almost an accidental one. The founder and executive director of USModernist, a nonprofit dedicated to the preservation and documentation of modern houses, Smart worked for 30 years as a management consultant. “I was doing strategic planning and organization training,” he says. “My wife refers to this whole other project as a 16-year seizure.” Recently I spoke with Smart about his two websites, the podcast, the house tours his organization conducts, and why documentation is such a power preservation tool.

Click here to view the full Q&A interview

By Martin C. Pedersen at Common/Edge

Click here to view our recent webinar about Historic Preservation Easements for Modernist Houses with George Smart and Cathleen Turner

Oak Ridge Historic Heritage Grant Program
2023-24 Grant Information Sheet

What’s the purpose of the Historic Heritage Grants?
To strengthen and preserve Oak Ridge’s rich historic heritage by providing grant funding to owners of historic properties. The program provides small scale, high impact grants to help preserve the properties that are at the heart of what many Oak Ridge residents love most about our community—its historic, village-like atmosphere.

Who can apply for a grant?
Owners of historic properties located in Oak Ridge. Although priority will be given to projects located in the Historic District, projects proposed for historic properties elsewhere in Oak Ridge will also be considered.

How much can I apply for? And how much do I need to contribute?
Owners of historic properties may apply for grants of up to $3,000 or nonprofits may apply for $4,000 for projects of any size. All applicants must contribute matching funds totaling at least 50% of the project costs. Since grants funds are paid on a reimbursement basis, owners must cover the full costs of the project out-of-pocket until all reporting requirements have been completed, per the terms of the official grant award.

What kinds of projects are eligible?
Eligible projects include structural repairs, restoration of historic materials, or other conservation work related to preserving the building’s exterior. In the case of highly significant properties, the preservation of other site features may also be eligible for grant support.

Properties must be at least 75 years old and of demonstrated historic, architectural, or cultural significance. The potential positive impact of the projects on Oak Ridge’s historic fabric and its streetscape are also important considerations. Approved preservation projects may be completed by property owners or by outside contractors; eligible costs include contract labor and necessary materials, with matching funds required, as described above.

All grant-funded work must comply with the Oak Ridge Historic District Design Standards (available at Interior work, new construction (including additions), and work that has already been completed are not eligible.

Grant Timeline
For the 2023-24 grants, applicants should propose projects that can be completed between July 1, 2023 and May 31, 2024. If an applicant anticipates difficulty in conforming a project to this deadline, please contact us (See “How can I learn more?”).

How can I learn more?
An information session will be held on Friday, March 3, 2023, 7-8 p.m. at Town Hall. The session will include time for potential applicants to describe their projects and ask questions. Applicants can also call Town Hall at 336.644.7009 with questions or assistance preparing an application. We’re also happy to visit your property and provide recommendations on specialized contractors and suppliers appropriate to your project.

How do I apply?
Application forms are available at Oak Ridge Town Hall or online at (under Our Town, go to Historic Oak Ridge and click on Historic Heritage Grants). Application forms can also be requested by mail by calling Town Hall at 336.644.7009. The application deadline is Friday, April 14, 2023, at 4 p.m.

How will grant decisions be made?
Grant applications will be evaluated using the following criteria:

• Architectural, historical, and cultural significance of the property
• Appropriateness and urgency of proposed Project Budget and Project Plan work for preserving the property
• Potential positive impact of the project

A committee of outside preservation experts will evaluate the applications against the criteria above and make recommendations to the Historic Preservation Commission, who will make the final decisions regarding grant awards.

Additional Information for Grant Projects in the Historic District
Grant applications for projects within the Historic District will require a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) if the project is recommended for approval. In such cases, the applicant will be asked to submit a completed COA application (available online at and at the Oak Ridge Town Hall) by Wednesday, May 3, 2023, at 12 noon. Town staff will be available to assist applicants as needed.

Review of completed COA applications will take place at the Historic Preservation Commission’s regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday, May 17, 2023 at Oak Ridge Town Hall, beginning at 7 p.m.; applicants are required to attend this meeting.




The Town of Oak Ridge is requesting sealed bids for a construction contract to complete elements of the Farmhouse Community Center, a project funded in part by federal allocations under the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds of H.R. 1319 American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP/CSLFRF). Bidders may bid on the following contract:

Bid #23-002: TOWN OF OAK RIDGE NC, FARMHOUSE COMMUNITY CENTER requests sealed bids for the renovations and additions to the former farmhouse at 8300 Linville Rd., Oak Ridge, NC 27310. The Base Bid generally consists of the renovations and additions to the building only and connecting to the existing utilities on site. Site Development will be performed under a separate contract.

Two (2) copies of the sealed bid will be received by 2:00 pm (local prevailing time) on March 16, 2023 at this location:

Oak Ridge Town Hall
8315 Linville Road
Oak Ridge, NC 27310
Attn: Sandra Smith, Town Clerk

Your response and pricing should be submitted in a sealed envelope/package, clearly marked as follows:

Bid Enclosed for Town of Oak Ridge Farmhouse Community Center, Bid #23-002, Bidders Co. Name, North Carolina Contractor’s License number, & Bid Close Date.

Any response received after that time and/or date will be returned to the offeror unopened. All bids received for Bid #23-002 will be publicly opened and read aloud at 2:00 pm, local prevailing time, on March 16th, 2023.

Bid documents, including Instructions for Bidders, drawings and specifications may be downloaded from Hill Studio’s Dropbox website, upon request. Printing costs are the bidder’s responsibility.

Notify Amy Saunders,, (540) 342-5263 for Dropbox access to digital copies of bid documents.

A non-mandatory Pre-bid Conference is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. (local prevailing time) on February 23, 2023. The in-person meeting will be at the Oak Ridge Town Hall, 8315 Linville Road, Oak Ridge, NC 27310, with a site visit following the meeting. All bidders are required to visit the site in order to provide a bid.

Questions about the Bid Package are to be sent to Hunter Greene by email,, by March 7, 2023. Answers to all questions will be sent to all Bid Set holders as an addendum via email. Bidders are responsible for having all of the Addenda.

Bidders must have a currently active license classified as a building contractor with an unlimited license limitation issued by the North Carolina Licensing Board for General Contractors. The bidder’s attention is directed to conform to North Carolina law and the public bid requirements of Chapter 143-129 applicable to public construction contracts of $500,000 or more.

This is a federally assisted project. Bidders and contractors performing work under this advertisement are bound by the requirements of President’s Executive Order 11246 as amended by Executive Order 11375; Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; Section 109 of Title 1 of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974, as amended; Section 3 of the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968; the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986; the Davis-Bacon Act; the Copeland “Anti Kickback” Act; the Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act; and Public Law 100 202.

Town of Oak Ridge shall provide the mechanism for the evaluation of all information received, the final determination of responsible offerors, and reserves the right to waive informalities and irregularities and to accept or reject any or all bids. Any deviations or alternates must be submitted, in writing, with your bid. Deviations or alternates discovered after bid award or material receipt, not stated in your bid, shall be grounds for disqualification and nullification of order. Withdrawal of bids due to error shall be according to N. C. Gen. Stat. 143-129.1

Contract is to be awarded on a lump sum basis. The contract for Bid # 23-002 will be awarded individually, based on the lowest responsible, responsive bid received, and negotiations with the responding firms.

The 1772 Foundation, in cooperation with the National Preservation Partners Network, announces fifteen grant recipients.

POMFRET, CONNECTICUT – The National Preservation Partners Network and The 1772 Foundation, based in Pomfret, Connecticut, play a leading role in promoting historic properties redevelopment programs (HPRPs) also known as revolving funds, nationwide. At its quarterly meeting, the partnership awarded HPRP grants totaling $810,000. Individual grants ranged in amount from $10,000 for Vision Carthage in Carthage, Missouri, to conduct a feasibility study to $120,000 for New Bedford, Massachusetts’ Waterfront Historic Area League (WHALE), the only historic preservation CDC in the country.

Other HPRP grant recipients were Cincinnati Preservation Association in Cincinnati, Ohio ($70,000), Cleveland Restoration Society in Cleveland, Ohio ($70,000), Fairmount Park Conservancy in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania ($20,000), Historic Charleston Foundation in Charleston, South Carolina ($75,000), Historic Wilmington Foundation Inc. in Wilmington, North Carolina ($75,000), The L’Enfant Trust in Washington, DC ($100,000), Preservation Maryland in Baltimore, Maryland ($70,000), Preservation North Carolina in Raleigh, North Carolina ($75,000), and Sarasota Alliance for Historic Preservation in Sarasota, Florida ($50,000).

Five preservation organizations considering the establishment of HPRPs received grants to conduct feasibility studies. Recipients of these grants were Decay Devils in Gary, Indiana ($20,000), Quapaw Quarter Association in Little Rock, Arkansas ($15,000), Selma Dallas County Historic Preservation Society in Selma, Alabama ($20,000), Historic Denver in Denver, Colorado ($20,000), and the above-noted Vision Carthage.

According to Executive Director, Mary Anthony, “The 1772 Foundation made its first grants to HPRPs in 2006, attracted to their combination of historic preservation values and entrepreneurial spirit. They continue to be a key area of interest for us and one of our earliest and best examples of high impact granting. Employing a variety of real estate techniques, these innovative organizations recycle funds to save endangered historic buildings and even whole neighborhoods.”

The 1772 Foundation was named in honor of its first restoration project, Liberty Hall in Union, NJ, which was built in 1772 and is the ancestral home of the Livingston and Kean families. The late Stewart B. Kean was the original benefactor of The 1772 Foundation. The 1772 Foundation works to ensure the safe passage of our historic buildings and farmland to future generations. More information about The 1772 Foundation may be found at

 The National Preservation Partners Network (NPPN), established as an independent organization in 2018, works to advance the growth and effectiveness of the organized historic preservation movement through education, training, and a common advocacy agenda. More information about NPPN may be found at


BURLINGTON — The matching grant program of Preservation Burlington aids owners of the city’s historically and architecturally significant properties so they may preserve and maintain the exterior character of their historic property. These investments maintain neighborhood integrity, instill pride of place and enhance real estate values in the community.

Preservation Burlington has been awarding matching grants annually since 2021.

Homeowners are eligible to apply if their property is either located within one of Burlington’s six designated National Register historic districts or listed individually as a local, state or National Register landmark.

Owners of income properties are eligible by the same standard, except that they need only be in close proximity to a designed National Register historic district in the city.

Awarded funds may be used for exterior preservation work such as porch repair/restoration; repairing/restoring period wood doors and/or windows; historic masonry repair/stabilization; exterior painting; and more, in keeping with the structural and design integrity of the historic property.

The grants refund up to 50 percent of the cost of historically appropriate exterior improvements, to a maximum award of $5,000 to any one project.

Applications open March 1; deadline is April 1. Grant recipients will be announced May 15.

Other program details include:

  • Projects must meet established code requirements of the City of Burlington, the Burlington Historic Preservation Commission, the State of North Carolina and other applicable government authorities.
  • No funds will be awarded retroactively for work performed prior to approval.
  • Work should begin no later than July 1 and be completed by Sept. 30, 2023.

For more information, contact or 336-539-1909. Application forms are available on the “Historic Property Grants” page at

Click here to view article on The Times News

Ever wanted to buy your own church?

For $525,000, a historic, 10,700-square-foot former worship hall and its 2 acres in Shelby could be yours, pews included.

Preservation North Carolina is selling the former John Knox Presbyterian Church and its 2 acres on Charles Road, less than a a mile off U.S. 74 Bypass. On its website, the preservation group describes the church building as “classic, yet restrained, Mid-Century Modernist.”

You’ll get a sanctuary with a low-slung ceiling, exposed rafters, an ante room, foyer, large assembly area and 13 Sunday school-sized classrooms, according to the property listing.

Six bathrooms, two utility rooms and seven small storage rooms also come with the deal.

The property has ample parking and a large, fenced backyard, according to its listing.

The church was built in 1955 and designed by local architect Breeze, Holland & Riviere.

Several Frank Lloyd Wright-influenced architectural features were added over the years, including “sweeping gables and wide overhangs with brick buttresses,” according to the listing.

The church building is in “move-in” condition, perfect for an emerging church, as an event venue or apartments, Jack Thomson, regional director of the Preservation NC Western office says in the listing.

Click here to view the full article and photos on The Charlotte Observer



RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) — A traveling exhibit is giving people an opportunity to learn more about the Black architects who helped build North Carolina.

The exhibit is at the historic Oak View County Park in east Raleigh.

The “We Built This” exhibit highlights more than two dozen personal profiles and historic context on key topics including slavery and reconstruction; the founding of historically Black colleges and universities and Black churches; Jim Crow and segregation; and the rise of Black politicians and professionals.

The tour is free and runs through March 27.

Click here to watch the full news story video on ABC 11

Plans are underway to turn an old, historic school in Rutherford County into affordable housing for educators, as converging crises have school district leaders getting creative and trying something new.

“I’ve worked in public education for almost 30 years and I would say recruitment and retention of employees is a greater challenge today than it has ever been and that’s exacerbated by the difficulty that new and returning employees have in finding high quality, affordable housing available to them,” said Dr. David Sutton, Superintendent of Rutherford County Schools.

Dr. Sutton said he thinks the issue calls on school leaders “to think differently about how they reach out and attract and connect and build relationships and support systems for the people who provide services to our children.”

He said they still have vacancies for teaching positions that they were unable to fill in the summer, because they have inadequate applicants. He added, it is troubling to him that in December, they’re still struggling to attract applicants to apply for those jobs.

With available, affordable housing a big hindrance to hiring, the school district is undertaking something it’s never done before: Affordable housing specifically for educators in Rutherford County Schools.

Instead of new construction, the district is exploring repurposing an existing school in Rutherfordton, which used to be home to R-S Central High School and, most recently, R-S Middle School.

“Until a few months ago, this campus was R-S Middle School and served just under 600 students here in the community. We finished construction on a new middle school to replace that facility late in the last school year and into the summer,” Dr. Sutton said.

He said the early estimated cost of the renovations would be $10 million to $12 million. The district is exploring the project with the help of Dogwood Health Trust and the county government, which helped fund a feasibility study through Odom Engineering. Dr. Sutton said the outcome of the study was encouraging, and the efforts have gained momentum over the course of the past year or so. However, he said the district is taking its time and being thorough with the project to ensure they get it right.

“The early feasibility plan suggested that we could probably put in somewhere between 40 and 45 apartment units,” he said. He added that they hope to add some amenities for the residents, like a gym and recreational spaces for children.

As for the rental rates, Dr. Sutton said they’re leaning into Dogwood Health Trust’s expertise in that area, but the district’s goal is to have rent levels that don’t exceed more than 30% of residents’ annual income.

“I think, ideally, in the next three to five years, we would see full occupancy and full service back to the community in its new life form,” Dr. Sutton said.

The vision for the housing project is still very formative and fluid and could include other buildings, but it focuses on the campus’ main, historic building — which is nearly a century old.

Dr. Sutton said he’d heard a lot of positive feedback from the community regarding this undertaking.

“I was just at one of our elementary schools early today and heard from the principal that among faculty members at that school, there’s a lot of excitement already,” he said.

He added with the building’s historical value, there’s interest in also paying homage to the school’s past. As the district looks to tackle modern problems, school leaders want to maintain sight of what the campus used to be and mean to folks there.

“We want to balance those two interests very carefully to build a modern facility that’s attractive to residents but also one that pays respect to its history here in the community,” he said.

Separately, the school district is also exploring using other buildings on the expansive campus for other administrative and operational functions.

by Anjali Pate, ABC 13 News

Click here to view the full article and photos

SUMMERFIELD — Two historic properties in the heart of this Guilford County town are for sale, and one is under contract.

The Gordon Hardware Store and the Alexander Strong Martin House are across from each other on Summerfield Road at N.C. 150.

The hardware store, built in the 1870s by local carpenter George J. Smith, is under contract, according to Cathleen Turner of Preservation North Carolina.

“It’s someone local who appreciates the architecture and the history of the area,” Turner said of the buyer. “I think they were looking at a craft beer/music/retail venue — something really interesting that I think would piggyback onto the history of the building.”

The selling price for the 3,510-square-foot store was listed at $125,000 on Preservation North Carolina’s website.

The 2,694-square-foot Martin House, circa 1835, also is listed for $110,000 on the website.

The Summerfield Town Council acquired the house for about $90,800 in 2015, according to Town Manager Scott Whitaker. He said the town bought the hardware store, along with 13.3 acres across the street in 2014, for $399,000.

Town officials had hoped to renovate the properties, Whitaker said. They wanted to turn the hardware store into a council meeting space and to move a museum currently in Town Hall into the Martin House and have some extra municipal space there.

The town even went so far as to remove some non-historical interior walls in the Martin House — installed when the place was converted into apartments — and demolished a later addition, which included some asbestos removal.

However, town leaders became concerned about the cost of the projects, Whitaker said.

This summer, the town gave Preservation North Carolina an option to buy the properties, and it is marketing them to potential owners.

“We very much see those as important historical assets,” Whitaker said.

Turner agreed, noting that both buildings are contributing structures in the Summerfield National Register Historic District.

Protective covenants on the buildings will ensure preservation of “character defining features inside and out,” Turner said. That includes the preservation of the faded R.C. Gordon Hardware “ghost” sign on the northern wall of the store. R.C. Gordon began operating the hardware and feed store there in 1935.

“It’s very common sense,” Turner explained. “Who’s going to buy a historic house and take out all the historic stuff?”

The town did some structural stabilization of the house and installed some new wood flooring where existing flooring had failed.

Turner said interest has been high in both properties, but it may take a while to finalize their sale.

“With the historic properties that we work with, they generally take a while to find that right match,” Turner said. “Preservation North Carolina specializes in important historic properties that need a lot of work and a lot of heavy lifting.”

For instance, the Martin House has a septic system, but no well. It will also require a complete rehabilitation, including all mechanical systems (electrical, plumbing, and HVAC), a new kitchen and bathrooms. With eight fireplaces, the two-story brick residence is one of the largest in Guilford County of its era.

The Gordon Hardware Store also will need a complete rehabilitation, including all new HVAC and plumbing systems and structural repair of the rear wall. One second-story room features a freight lift that transported appliances from the outside of the building through a hinged window for storage.

“They’re both iconic, prominent structures there on the main intersection of Summerfield,” Turner said.

She said the location is a plus for selling the buildings, despite the town’s rural nature.

Summerfield “is pretty dynamic. It’s close to a lot,” Turner said. “People are very interested in what’s going on and what the outcome will be.”

Click here to view the article and photographs (including historic photos) on Greensboro News & Record

Mikkel Hansen is on mission to preserve his home.

The home, built in the mid-1950s by architect Clyde Merrill, sits on two lots between Hilltop Road and Fairway Drive in Black Mountain.

Hansen said he believes the home is historic and should be preserved.

He said he began this journey a little more than a year ago because of some changes made by the town.

“I call it irresponsible spot zoning,” Hansen said. “The spot zoning affected property that really ought not to change zoning.”

Hansen said the spot zoning is an effort to add more houses to the area. He said that because his house sits on two separate lots that span nearly an acre, several more homes could be built if his is torn down.

“There isn’t an empty lot around here, so if they can rezone this, somebody can make a lot of money on putting three houses on here instead of one,” Hansen said. “As an architect, I really felt that this ought to be preserved.”

Before Hansen moved in, the house had only two previous owners, the original architect and then a doctor.

Hansen said he bought the house in 1990 and moved in Oct. 1.

Prior to moving to Black Mountain, Hansen and his family lived in Chicago for 35 years. He said he and his wife moved to the South after their children grew up and left home because he wanted to live “where (he) didn’t have to shovel snow.”

Before Chicago, the couple lived in Kentucky, their first stop after moving from their home country of Denmark in 1954.

Hansen said he and his wife, who died of Parkinson’s a few years ago, looked for homes throughout the late 1980s before landing in Black Mountain.

Once they purchased the home, they did some slight remodeling, including adding windows in the dining room and removing carpet in favor of hardwood floors.

Now that he is working to preserve the home, Hansen said he cannot make any changes to the house or landscaping without first contacting the Historic Preservation Foundation of North Carolina as his home is now under their protection.

Hansen said he was moved to work to preserve the home because he, as a former architect, appreciates the design and work that went into creating it.

“As architecture goes, you either appreciate it or you don’t,” Hansen said. “In this case, I obviously appreciated what this guy did for himself and his wife.”

By: Karrigan Monk, Black Mountain News

Click here to view the article and photos on Black Mountain News

RALEIGH, N.C. — A new exhibit in Raleigh opens up a part of our state’s history that may not be well-known. Preservation North Carolina presents “We Built This,” the story of Black Architects and Builders from colonial times to the present.

It begins on land where enslaved people once worked. The historic farm and home of the Benton Williams family still stands today with some structures likely built by those once enslaved.

“We have been able to do some research into their lives and uncover their names and also trace their lives after slavery as well as the steps they took in freedom to create lives for themselves and their families,” said Abby Kellerman, a park manager of education.

She says, after reconstruction many freed individuals stayed on as sharecroppers and tenant farmers. Many others like them set out to make their mark designing and building homes, churches and colleges.

“We can still see the physical legacy of these individuals and the work and the skill that they put into really constructing the state and are some of our most important resources,” Kellerman said,

In the Farm History Center at Historic Oak View County Park, you can learn about James Henry Harris, “who was an upholsterer, so he was a skilled artisan in North Carolina,” said Kellerman, adding that Harris had a second career as a politician.

Harris was one of four delegates chosen from Wake County to participate in the 1868 Constitutional Convention. He served along with Benton Williams, the owner of the Oak View estate, who also sided with the Union’s cause during the Civil War.

Also featured in the exhibit is C.E. (Calvin Esau) Lightner, who attended Shaw University and became one of the leading builders of Raleigh’s Black middle class.

Philip Freelon is one of the most well-known architects in this exhibit. Kellerman said, “he’s actually known for designing the National Museum of African American History and Culture which is the Smithsonian building in D.C.”

She added, “I do appreciate that it highlights Danita Brown who was the first Black American woman licensed to practice architecture in North Carolina.”

Now, on the very ground where enslaved people once toiled the exhibit celebrates progress. “I think it really shines a light on these individuals who perhaps were overlooked in history. It encourages us to learn more about our local history,” said Kellerman.

The Historic Oak View County Park is always open for self-guided tours – Monday through Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. – and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

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IRON STATION – Nearly 800 Rosenwald Schools were built in North Carolina – more than in any other state. Only two of the original six Rosenwald Schools are still standing in Lincoln County. One is Oaklawn, which was rehabilitated utilizing a Community Development Block Grant and is now being used by Communities in Schools of Lincoln County and the Mount Vernon School in Iron Station. Mount Vernon School was a two-teacher schoolhouse that first welcomed students for the 1925 school year.

“Today the Mount Vernon School’s restoration and preservation are championed by former students, community members, and volunteers,” Mia Canestrari, a volunteer with the project said. “A non-profit was created in 2015 to restore and preserve the school, return it to its 1920s appearance, share its history, and open it to the community for education and fellowship.”

Intrigued by the history of Rosenwald Schools, a University of North Carolina at Charlotte Anthropology Department graduate student, Camille Richardson, has elected to do an archeological dig at the Mount Vernon School as part of her master’s thesis. She’s working under the supervision of Sara Juengst, Ph.D., an associate professor with the Department of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

“We were contacted by Mia Canestrari who’d seen on social media a Rosenwald School archeology project that was running through the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,” Juengst said. “The idea is to put a few archeological excavation units in the yard of the school to see what the children left behind. If we’re lucky, we’ll find their trash pit. I think most likely, we’ll find things that were lost in the yard. It’s part of an effort to document and investigate the lives of African American children which in terms of historical documents, are often unreported on, particularly in the last 200 years in the American South.”

Richardson has been doing work with other black communities in the Charlotte area on housing issues and is interested in racial justice issues broadly.

“In eighth grade, I was taking a forensics course at a college, and they started talking about forensic anthropology,” she said. “I started to think about how I could turn anthropology into a career and here I am. I was looking for a project to do for my master’s thesis and this seemed amazing. I work with a nonprofit called Rebuilding Together where we do home modifications on low-income housing. Most of our clients are African American people and I get to learn a little bit about their history.”

Some of her clients told Richardson about how education back in the day wasn’t the greatest. When she learned of the Rosenwald Schools, she knew this would be a perfect project for her.

“I’m so excited to get in here and try to tell these children’s stories and interviewing the surviving students,” she said.

Introduced to the Mount Vernon School project by Sen. Ted Alexander (R-Cleveland), Canestrari has been a volunteer with Preservation North Carolina since 2019.

“Ted invited me and another volunteer, current Board Secretary Amanda Finlon, to a Mount Vernon Rosenwald School meeting over a year ago,” she said. “We met Ola Mae (Foster) and she asked if we were interested in helping out. I was and I needed to complete an internship to get my Historic Preservation Certificate from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, so I came on as an intern. Once my internship ended, I decided to stay on as a volunteer. I’m scheduled to receive the Historic Preservation certificate from UNCG this spring.”

In the case study that Canestrari did for her certificate, she conducted extensive research on the Mount Vernon school and on Rosenwald Schools in general. Some of her research follows:

The land on which the Mount Vernon Rosenwald School is situated was sold by white businessman and landowner Andrew Link to the Lincoln County School Board for eight dollars in 1902. The deed states the land was “To be used as a schoolhouse site and for the benefit of the free school for Dist. No. (Mt Vernon) colored race.” That year the Mount Vernon Academy was built and stood until the community petitioned for a Rosenwald school.

On Sept. 10, 1924, William F. Credle, the Rosenwald Fund supervisor with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction sent a request to the Rosenwald Fund for help building 22 schools in 10 counties. Mount Vernon was one of three schools in Lincoln County approved for funding at this time. Schools were only approved if the black community demonstrated support for the school by raising money and donating labor or land. The school also had to have the backing and financial support of the white community and school board.

According to information from the Fiske University Rosenwald School database, the total cost to build the school was $2500 with $300 from the black community, $1500 in public funds, and $700 from the Rosenwald Fund.

Once built, the school functioned as an elementary school with one room for first through third grade and the second classroom for grades four through six. In 1960, following desegregation, the school closed, and classes were moved to the Newbold Elementary School. In 1961 the church next door, the Mount Vernon Missionary Baptist Church, purchased the school and used it as a meeting hall. Historically the church and its members were instrumental in building and supporting the schools built on the site.

The school has been altered and updated over the years. Its historic details have been either hidden or removed. The large, tall bank of 9×9 windows, a defining characteristic of Rosenwald Schools, that stretched along the front and back of the school were replaced with smaller windows. The wood exterior has been covered with vinyl siding. Interior wood paneling and drop ceilings covered the original tongue and groove.

“When evaluated in 2011, the North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office found it couldn’t be encouraging about it as a likely candidate for listing on the National Register of Historic Places,” Canestrari said. “It was recommended that the school building be returned to its historic appearance by literally unwrapping it to reveal the historic materials underneath.”

With the help of local Lowe’s store volunteers, the drop ceiling and wood paneling were removed in June. In addition, the board has worked to raise money and apply for available grants. The Mount Vernon Rosenwald School recently received grant funds from the county and the Marion Stedman Covington Foundation which will allow work on the exterior façade to begin this spring.

Once the historical details of the building are more visible, the board plans to have the site re-evaluated for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places.

Interviews are planned with surviving students of the Mount Vernon Rosenwald School and will be published at a later date.

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By: Michelle T. Bernard, Senior Staff Writer, Lincoln Times-News


WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (October 27, 2022)— Reynolda has been selected as a recipient of the 2022 Gertrude S. Carraway Award of Merit from Preservation North Carolina. The awards are presented annually to people and organizations demonstrating genuine commitment through extraordinary leadership, research, philanthropy, promotion and/or personal participation in historic preservation. Reynolda was recognized at an October 26 event in Winston-Salem for two recently completed projects across the estate: the roof rehabilitation and the Formal Gardens renovation.

The Reynolda House roof rehabilitation project was announced in 2018, following receipt of a $420,000 Infrastructure and Capacity Building Challenge Grant by the National Endowment for the Humanities. A ‘Raise the Roof’ campaign followed, to raise funds for the rehabilitation, and work began during the summer of 2021 to replace tiles across the 30,000-square-foot bungalow roof. Partnering with architect Joseph K. Oppermann, the Frank L. Blum Construction Company, and the Baker Roofing Company, the project honored the vision of the home’s original designer, Charles Barton Keen. It was completed in December 2021.

“We are honored to receive this recognition from Preservation North Carolina. We benefited from a meaningful collaboration with our project partners, and the rehabilitation was meticulously executed. The completed roof displays powerful historical integrity and ensures the safety and protection of the home and its collection of American art and fine objects.”

This is the third award bestowed to Reynolda for roof rehabilitation. The project was previously awarded the Robert James Award for Preservation Excellence by the North Carolina Preservation Consortium and the Commercial Historic Renovation Project of the Year Award by Ludowici Roof Tile Company.

Renovation work in Reynolda Gardens is also recognized by Preservation North Carolina. Announced in 2020, the East Garden project focused on a primary visitor entry point to the Formal Gardens and a beloved home to the estate’s weeping cherry trees. The extensive work revived the original cherry tree allée that was designed by Thomas Sears in 1917. An allée is traditionally defined as a feature of the French formal garden that is both a promenade and an extension of a garden view. Forty-four trees were planted to form the allée—six parallel to the greenhouses and 19 along the east and west sides of the greenhouse gardens.

“The full cherry tree allée was not on view as intended for nearly 50 years,” said Jon Roethling, director of Reynolda Gardens. “Visitors this spring were delighted to see the cherries in bloom as they discovered our most recent restoration efforts.”

The project also uncovered an opportunity to complete critical drainage and irrigation work that will help to preserve the Formal Gardens for generations to come. In addition to this work, the tea houses—central focal points and passageways in the Formal Gardens—received new cedar roofs, paint and plantings.

Restoration work is never complete and ever-evolving, and Reynolda is already at work on new projects—a reimagination of the bungalow’s landscaping and a complete renovation of the Gardens’s greenhouses. Visit to plan your visit and to see restoration of the 1917 estate in action.

About Reynolda

Reynolda is set on 170 acres in Winston-Salem, N.C. and comprises Reynolda House Museum of American Art, Reynolda Gardens and Reynolda Village Shops and Restaurants. The Museum presents a renowned art collection in a historic and incomparable setting: the original 1917 interiors of Katharine and R. J. Reynolds’s 34,000-square-foot home. Its collection is a chronology of American art and featured exhibitions are offered in the Museum’s Babcock Wing Gallery and historic house bedrooms. The Gardens serve as a 134-acre outdoor horticultural oasis open to the public year-round, complete with colorful formal gardens, nature trails and a greenhouse. In the Village, the estate’s historic buildings are now home to a vibrant mix of boutiques, restaurants, shops and services. Plan your visit at and use the free mobile app, Reynolda Revealed, to self-tour the estate.

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Preservation Society of Asheville and Buncombe County, Buncombe County Special Collections, and Pack Memorial Library present We Built This: Profiles of Black Architects and Builders in North Carolina Aug. 1-Oct. 10

The history and legacy of Black builders and craftspeople in North Carolina comes to life in a new traveling exhibit at Pack Memorial Library. Produced by Preservation North Carolina (PNC), the traveling exhibit, We Built This: Profiles of Black Architects and Builders in North Carolina, is on display until Oct. 10.

The exhibit is open to the public during normal library hours Tuesday and Thursday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Wednesday and Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. For questions about the current display, contact Erica LeClaire Director of Preservation – PSABC at or (828) 254-2343.

From Preservation North Carolina: We Built This is part of a multi-faceted educational program about the history and legacy of Black builders and craftspeople in North Carolina. This traveling exhibit highlights the stories of those who constructed and designed many of North Carolina’s most treasured historic sites. Spanning more than three centuries, We Built This provides more than two dozen personal profiles and historic context on key topics including slavery and Reconstruction; founding of HBCUs and Black churches; Jim Crow and segregation; and the rise of Black civic leaders and professionals. We Built This acknowledges and celebrates the Black builders and architects who constructed or designed many of North Carolina’s most treasured historic places.

For more information about We Built This, including future locations and information about rental, please contact Julianne Patterson at or (919) 832-3652 ext. 238.

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Oak Ridge announced today the launch of its new CORE Initiative. CORE—Conserving Oak Ridge through Easements—is an innovative program with two goals: to educate property owners about how easements can preserve open space and historic structures, and to offer grant funds to offset the cost of putting such easements in place.

Oak Ridge’s CORE Initiative has been developed in collaboration with noted preservation organizations Piedmont Land Conservancy (PLC) and Preservation North Carolina (PNC). While both organizations also work directly with individuals, Oak Ridge’s CORE initiative positions the town as an advocate for residents and a unique source of funding not available elsewhere.

CORE Grants can cover up to 100% of the costs for either PLC or PNC to monitor a property, in perpetuity, for compliance with the easement terms. These costs can range from $5,000 to $15,000, depending on the property size and complexity of easement terms. CORE grants can also offset other costs typically borne by the resident for surveys, recording fees, and the like.

Understanding how conservation easements work is the first step for an interested resident. Conservation easements are legal agreements that restrict changes to the future use or appearance of a property. For example, open space easements can allow trails and recreational use, protect landscape features, and limit further development. Historic structure easements can allow interior changes and modern additions, while protecting historic exteriors and prohibiting demolition. Easements are voluntary and can’t be made without the property owner’s active participation and approval; they remain in effect regardless of changes in ownership.

The CORE Initiative grew out of the Town Council’s Strategic Plan (2018), which prioritized preservation of the town’s open spaces and historic structures. The CORE Grants were developed by a working group and are now managed by a standing Conservation Easement Committee comprised of five residents. With $20,000 currently in hand, the committee hopes to have up to $40,000 for future CORE Grants by next year. Grants will be awarded by the town, following recommendations from the committee.

* * *

Information about Oak Ridge’s new CORE Initiative is available online at (see Boards and Committees/Conservation Easement Committee/Core Initiative). For questions regarding the new initiative, contact Planning Director Sean Taylor or Town Clerk Sandra Smith at 336-644-7009, or email

* * *

Despite its modest population of 7,500, Oak Ridge continues to be a leader in developing strategies to preserve its small-town character, natural beauty, and historic resources. The new CORE Grants represent the second of two innovative grant programs developed to serve this small community in northwest Guilford County. Launched in 2016, Oak Ridge’s Historic Heritage Grant program provides grants to preserve the local historic structures; to date, grants totaling $22,800 have leveraged an additional $102,600 in matching funds, for a total of $125,400 invested in 16 local preservation projects. In yet another new initiative, Oak Ridge recently unveiled a new Village Core Design Guidebook designed to attract and direct innovative commercial development that is consistent with the town’s rural and historic character.

Preservation NC (PNC) has launched a new traveling exhibit and education program, We Built This: Profiles of Black Architects and Builders in North Carolina. “The project is actually a follow-up to an earlier exhibit that PNC released in 1998 that is still traveling around the state today,” says Julianne Patterson, outreach manager for Preservation NC. “The original exhibit covered material from the inception of the colony up until the Civil War. There was always a plan for an expanded project that would go beyond the Civil War, but the real impetus for this reboot is all the new research and information about specific individuals that has been discovered in the last 20 years.”

Through the exhibit, a docuseries and a published book, We Built This profiles more than two dozen individuals who constructed and designed many of North Carolina’s most treasured historic sites over more than three centuries. “The sooner people start to learn more about the skilled enslaved and free Black builders that may have been involved in constructing the buildings they live in, work in, learn in or walk by every day, the better,” says Patterson.

In conjunction with We Built This, PNC has created a new African American Building Preservation Fund. These funds will be used specifically for preserving threatened landmarks of African American heritage, such as schools, churches, lodges, businesses or homes of prominent Black leaders. “Historically African American neighborhoods, such as those built for middle-class Blacks between WWII and the passage of the Fair Housing Act, as well as Mid-century Modern homes and other landmarks of the state’s first generation of registered Black architects, are now particularly vulnerable to new development in North Carolina’s larger cities,” says Patterson. “PNC has recognized and preserved sites of Black history for decades, so this isn’t a new initiative as much as it’s establishing that this is a priority for us. This targeted funding will enable PNC to proactively seek out opportunities, as well as act quickly in case of emergency. The need is immediate, as both urban development and rural disinvestment threaten many buildings with African American associations.”

By Emma Castleberry – The Laurel of Asheville

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Without tax breaks, downtown Durham’s renaissance, with its swanky hotels and new skyscrapers, possibly wouldn’t have happened.

Yet, one of the main tax breaks used in Durham’s redevelopment could be facing the chopping block if the U.S. House of Representatives tax reform bill makes it to President Donald Trump’s desk for a signature.

The House GOP’s tax plan would eliminate federal investment tax credits for historic preservation projects as part of the Republican-led attempt to simplify the country’s tax code.

The potential elimination of the the historic tax credit quickly was met with dismay from preservation groups across the country and from some politicians.

“At a time when federal funding for infrastructure and housing is continually squeezed, the last thing Congress should do is push through a flawed tax plan that would hurt working families, hamstring our state and local governments, and destroy our ability to leverage private investment for projects that benefit the public,” said U.S. Rep. David Price, a Democrat from Chapel Hill.

As of the end of 2016, three of the 10 biggest historic tax rehabilitation projects across the state of North Carolina were in downtown Durham, according to Downtown Durham Inc. Others in North Carolina include Asheville’s Grove Arcade and Winston-Salem’s Reynolds Building.

The three largest projects in Durham were the American Tobacco Campus, which cost $167 million, the $81 million redevelopment of the old Liggett & Myers tobacco factory and the $38 million transformation of the Hill building into the 21C Museum Hotel.

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(The Herald Sun, 11/14/17)

Rehabilitation and repurposing of the Historic Loray Mill, converting and renewing the abandoned Gaston Memorial Hospital for senior housing, and restoration of the Armstrong Apartments were all made possible by Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credits for investment properties. But now, this essential preservation and community reinvestment tool is planned for extinction by the GOP tax bill.

I have firsthand knowledge of the financial structure of these private redevelopment projects and can assure the reader that neither would have happened without multiple sources of financing, including necessary private equity induced by Historic Tax Credits. Each of these heritage buildings would have long ago gone to the landfill in the absence of this reinvestment tool. Instead today, they are preserved for generations to come, serving new community and economic purposes, and are playing a key role in revitalizing areas of our community which have been overlooked by the market.

Historic tax credits are necessary because they mitigate higher costs and greater design challenges, and most importantly, provide equity to help fill the financial gap needed in weaker market locations.

Beyond preserving the historic legacy of our communities, historic preservation projects have a better economic impact than greenfield development. Preservation project costs average about 60 percent labor and 40 percent materials, while new construction averages about 60 percent materials and 40 percent labor. More jobs are generated, plus materials are more likely to be locally sourced, consequently 75 percent of their economic benefits are locally retained. As private developments they contribute significantly to local tax coffers.

But, contrasted with greenfield developments, they demand little in added municipal services because they typically occur where such services and infrastructure are already present. Historic tax credits are not only a winner at the local level, but also at the state and the national level. They return to the U.S. Treasury roughly $1.25 for every tax dollar invested. Results include $131 billion in private capital investment, 2.4 million jobs, and preservation of 42,293 buildings important to local, state and national heritage. If we want to grow our economy through tax reform, eliminating the Historic Preservation Tax Credit is heading the wrong way. We must reinvest in the physical assets of our center cities, our main streets, our small towns and the built heritage embodied on our community landmarks — that which makes each community special and defines its history. This will help grow our economy and return significant dividends to our taxpayers.

Preservation tax credits involve over $100 million in Gaston investment including other projects such as Mayworth School Senior Apartments in Cramerton, Dallas High School Apartments, and buildings in the downtowns of Gastonia and Belmont. Communities across North Carolina have seen over 653 projects, totaling $1.8 billion in investment, producing 31,000 jobs and providing $392 million in taxes. We cannot let this policy so vital to communities be eliminated, for there will be more projects to come, whether it’s repurposing of more old factory buildings, iconic downtown structures, or plans now before our communities.

So, it is no wonder Historic Preservation Tax Credits have enjoyed broad bi-partisan support. When President Regan signed a law making this policy permanent, he put it well, “Our tax credits have made the preservation of our older buildings not only a matter of respect for beauty and history, but of economic good sense.”

If you agree that Historic Preservation Tax Credits are good policy, act today to call or email Congressman Patrick McHenry and Sens. Burr and Tillis.

Jack Kiser is a resident of Gastonia and has long been involved in historic preservation.

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(Gaston Gazette, 11/9/17)

Natural and Cultural Resources Secretary Susi Hamilton and others called for defending the federal historic preservation tax credits at a Nov. 8 fundraiser for the Historic Wilmington Foundation.

Guests at the Historic Wilmington Foundation’s 2017 fundraising banquet heard a call to action Wednesday to support federal tax credits for historic preservation.

Susi Hamilton, N.C. secretary for natural and cultural resources, noted that the credits are targeted for repeal in the current tax plan being promoted by congressional Republicans.

Since 1998, Hamilton said, the credits had been used in 158 separate income-producing historic preservation projects in New Hanover County alone, resulting in $36.9 million in private investment.

Historic preservation “is big business,” she said. “It’s big business in North Carolina and our entire region.” The tax credits had been used for projects in 90 of North Carolina’s 100 counties, she added.

“It’s time to reach out,” Hamilton said. “We need to defend our small portion of this much larger (tax) plan.”

The federal credits, she noted, can be used only for work on non-residential properties and are separate from North Carolina’s own state tax credit program.

Enacted in 1976, the federal credits have previously enjoyed bipartisan support, Hamilton said. Former President Ronald Reagan was a major proponent of the program.

George Edwards, the Historic Wilmington Foundation’s outgoing executive director, urged members and guests to write their congressmen in support of the credits.

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(Star News, 11/8/17)

Has Hillsborough’s Colonial Inn finally found a new owner?

The “Under Contract” sign currently posted above the For Sale sign along the historic property at 153 W. King Street in downtown Hillsborough says so.

So does Seagle & Associates, a real estate brokerage based in Fuquay-Varina that currently holds the Inn’s listing. A representative of the company confirmed Monday morning that the property is under contract.

An online search also confirmed the property is listed “pending” in the Triangle Multiple Listing Service, which handles real property listings in the region. Little else is known at the moment, at least publicly, about the individual or individuals who have gone under contract to purchase the nearly 200 year-old Inn.

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(The News of Orange 11/6/17)