Faircloth earns preservation accolade

‘Most prestigious’ distinction awarded to Clinton native
By Emily M. Williams ewilliams@clintonnc.com

CLINTON — A prestigious preservation award has been presented to Anne Faircloth for her diligent work on maintaining the City of Clinton, work that supporters say has been though commitment, generosity, and discretion.

Faircloth has been named the 2021 winner of the Ruth Coltrane Cannon Award, presented annually by Preservation North Carolina. This year the awards ceremony was recently held in a virtual conference.

J. Myrick Howard, president, said that the award committee helps to honor those who have a key role in projects that benefit their communities, bringing further light to those endeavors.

“We are here to recognize and celebrate individuals and organizations, and projects that have made a difference,” said Howard.

The Ruth Coltrane Cannon Award is considered to be North Carolina’s most prestigious preservation award. To receive the award, the organization or individual must have “made contributions of statewide significance to historic preservation in North Carolina.”

The award is named after Ruth Coltrane Cannon of Concord, who served as president of the North Carolina Society for the Preservation of Antiquities and herself made “outstanding contributions to preservation.”

Bill Cannon, grandson of Ruth Coltrane Cannon, presented the award to Faircloth. He looked up previous winners, and one of which was Cecil B. DeMille, a renown film director, producer and actor deemed a founding father of American cinema.

“I’m absolutely floored to be in the same company of Cecil B. DeMille,” said Faircloth. “It’s a beautiful cup and I am honored to receive this.”

In addition to receiving the engraved pewter cup, the winner’s name is also added to a master Cannon Cup, which now includes a long list of North Carolina notables. Only one Cannon Award is presented each year.

Mary Rose, planning director for the City of Clinton, has known Faircloth for 25 years stating that “she does not seek a lot of attention for her efforts, preferring to remain anonymous.”

Rose said that Faircloth encourages communities to move forward with revitalization efforts, focusing on collaboration and teamwork. Often discrete with her preservation work, Faircloth works behind the scenes, and with supporters saying that this recognition has been long overdue.

“I am really humbled and moved by this award,” said Faircloth, who describes working on these projects as being “really fun.”

“Anne Faircloth of Clinton is the epitome of a generous and selfless leader in the preservation community,” the award release stated.

“She is dedicated to the state’s rich cultural history, having served numerous statewide and local initiatives including Preservation North Carolina’s board for over six years. Faircloth typically operates under the radar, but has undoubtedly left her mark on her hometown of Clinton and across the state.”

After graduating from Duke University and Hollins University, Faircloth worked as a journalist in Paris and New York. In 2001, she returned to Sampson County where she owns and manages agricultural and real estate businesses, as well as a philanthropic foundation that began with her father, Lauch Faircloth. Anne has had a hand in shaping the arc of preservation efforts for multiple buildings and homes in downtown Clinton. Among them, she was involved in the renovations of the Victor Small House, which is now the home of the Sampson Arts Council.

She was instrumental in saving three houses in the historic district that are now permanently protected by Preservation North Carolina: the Amma F. Johnson House, the Rackley-Herring-Holland House, and 307 Giddens St.

She has been engaged in the renovation of the old Sampson High School, a former Rosenwald School established in the early 1920s. The school was purchased by the Sampson High School Alumni Association Inc. in 1986 from the county.

In 1999, Phase One of the school’s revitalization was completed with the renovation of one of the buildings into eight apartments to provide housing to low-income individuals. Phase Two will include renovating and rehabilitating the school into a community resource center.

“Through her work with the Anonymous Trust, which focuses its support to serve rural and underserved communities in eastern North Carolina, Anne has helped encourage preservation efforts in many communities,” the press release stated. “She has often connected historic building owners to preservation organizations and tradespeople who can assist in revitalizing these buildings for new community use. The foundation encourages challenge grants to ensure broad community support for preservation projects, and has made transformative gifts that have helped ensure successful preservation outcomes that might not otherwise have been possible.”

Three properties in particular would have been lost without the foundation’s support: Branch Grove in Halifax County, and the Paul Borden Headquarters House and Best House in Goldsboro.

Organizers said Faircloth’s “quiet encouragement for the preservation of these properties was critical.

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