Gaston’s only remaining one-room school could become community center, museum

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.

Click here to watch the news story on WRAL and to see the article

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.

Click here to view the article with photos

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.

Click here to view the full article on Yes! Weekly

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.

Click here to view the article!

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.

Read full story…

(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.

Read full story…

(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)