Preservation North Carolina to hold 2024 convention in the Twin Counties


A statewide nonprofit agency whose mission is to save historic buildings and properties that reflect North Carolina’s diverse history is set to have the first two days of a three-day conference this fall in Rocky Mount with the last day of the conference in Tarboro.

Preservation North Carolina President and CEO Benjamin Briggs in a phone interview Thursday said, “We want to learn and be inspired by Rocky Mount.”

Briggs said places like New Bern, Edenton and Chapel Hill have a long history with historic preservation.

“Rocky Mount is a great representative city of North Carolina where we are in this point in time,” Briggs said. “Our manufacturing economy is transitioning. Our downtowns are growing and changing and evolving.”

Briggs also spoke of cities and towns once having vacant textile mills that now are being revitalized.

“You’ve got an example of that,” he said about the Rocky Mount Mills commercial and residential development off Falls Road and Peachtree Street.

“You just sort of check off all the boxes of the greatest hits of what’s happening in cities across our state right now,” he said of Rocky Mount. “It makes it a great choice for this meeting.”

Briggs is from High Point, but before he was born his father lived in Rocky Mount. Briggs said his father told him High Point has sort of a distant kinship with Rocky Mount because neither city is a seat of a county’s government and both have always been industrial-railroad cities.

Although a more specific schedule about Preservation North Carolina’s 2024 conference remains in the works, Briggs said the conference will be from Oct. 16 through Oct. 18.

Briggs said Preservation North Carolina also is hoping to have “a deep dive” into Tarboro on the last day of the conference because Tarboro is such a different community than Rocky Mount, being a seat of a county government and an older river town.

“We want to sort of showcase some of the architecture there in our day in Tarboro on Friday,” Briggs said.

He said this is a way to bring Tarboro and Edgecombe County into the conference.

He said he expects the schedule for the conference to be fleshed out by March or April.

Briggs said the Preservation North Carolina conference, which is held yearly, has been seen as an educational tool for people who have an interest in learning more about how to preserve buildings, why to preserve buildings and what tools are available.

Briggs also said one of the things Preservation North Carolina has tried to do is show great examples in the state of what people are doing and celebrate people with awards and recognitions.

Preservation North Carolina’s website said the organization is fondly referred to as “the animal shelter for old houses.”

Preservation North Carolina, which is based in Raleigh, was established in 1939 and works in many ways to save historic buildings and properties, but the organization is most recognized for what is called the Endangered Properties Program. The program is one in which Preservation North Carolina acquires a legal interest in historic properties to save buildings.

“Our model is to transition those properties back into the private sector, with a rehabilitation agreement in place in order to see that the building is preserved,” Briggs said.

Briggs said Preservation North Carolina has used this model to save nearly 900 buildings from western North Carolina to the Atlantic Coast.

For 20 years, Briggs led Preservation Greensboro before beginning as the new president and CEO of Preservation North Carolina. Briggs stepped into that role in August when his predecessor, Myrick Howard, retired after 45 years of service.

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