Happy Centennial! Greensboro’s Historic Jefferson Standard Building turned 100!

WFMY News2
By Manning Franks

GREENSBORO, N.C. — It’s time to wish a happy centennial to one of Greensboro’s most iconic structures: The Jefferson Standard Building.

“When Will Rogers the movie star came to Greensboro in the 1920s. He said that the people in Greensboro were as proud of it as a parent would be proud of a baby’s first tooth,” said Benjamin Briggs, the director of Preservation North Carolina.

Yet, baby’s first tooth has a richer history than you would expect – a history dating all the way back to 1917.

“Guilford County Commissioners chose to sell the old Guilford County Courthouse, which had been located on this site of this building for about 150 years. So, the county commissioners sold this property in 1917 Jefferson standard was the highest bidder, and the old building was torn down. And on that site was erected the new Jefferson Standard Building,” Briggs said.

Of course, the Building didn’t sprout up overnight – President of Jefferson Standard Life Insurance, Julian Price, needed a unique design.

“This one specifically replicates a building that still exists today the equitable building on Broadway in lower Manhattan and that is because of the architect of this building was Charles Hartman, who came from Manhattan to Greensboro in 1920,” said Briggs.

In October of 1923, the Jefferson Standard Building was fully builtm, becoming the tallest building in all of Greensboro.

“And it really remained unrivaled until the 1960s. And it was surpassed then with the addition to the back of it to the West that was built in 1990. So, today it’s really an icon for the city,” Briggs said.

An icon for the city that later expanded in 1990 to include its well-known sister structure, The Lincoln Financial Building, now currently the tallest structure in Greensboro.

“Our lives are expressed through the buildings and the built environment around us. When we care for those buildings, it’s a way to illustrate that we find that our voice our history is important,” Briggs proclaimed.

In the coming years, even more Greensboro buildings will be reaching their centennial, and just like Jefferson Standard Building, they all will have a story to tell.

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National Trust for Historic Preservation
By Myrick Howard

In 2023 Myrick Howard received the highest honor in preservation, the Louise du Pont Crowninshield Award.

Forty-eight years ago, I was a graduate student sitting in the audience at my first National Trust for Historic Preservation meeting. I was a quiet, gay, working-class kid—not exactly the norm in Mobile, Alabama. But I found preservationists to be a welcoming bunch of souls.

Through the years, I have been mentored by several great preservation leaders who helped me find my place. Jim Gray, a gentleman with years of preservation experience, hired me straight out of law school at age 25. A month later he retired, setting the stage for me to become the executive director of Preservation North Carolina (PNC). Jim continued to mentor me for years after he retired.

Our life stories couldn’t have been more different. His father ran a huge tobacco company and major bank. Jim’s cousin, Gordon Gray, was one of the founders of the National Trust. On the other hand, my father was a mechanist in a cigarette factory. My mother was school secretary. My family didn’t flee to the suburbs. We stayed put in the bungalow my grandfather built.

Our different backgrounds didn’t matter. Jim and I both shared a passion for place…and the diverse people whose stories they told. We had common ground.

Another mentor was Bob Stipe, a lawyer, writer and educator whose course got me interested in preservation. With Bob’s encouragement, I developed a passion for revolving funds.

Preservation as Property Work

During my career, PNC focused like a laser beam on preservation as property work. Real estate is the name of the game. We bought and sold hundreds of endangered properties and protected hundreds more with easements.

For the last 35 years, I’ve also taught Bob’s course and watched the careers of my own former students. For example, Andrew Stewart’s master’s project in 2006 was to conceptualize and advocate for an enhanced tax credit for the renovation of vacant industrial buildings.

Shortly after he graduated, Andrew got to watch from the legislative gallery as his bill was enacted. It has since generated more than $2.5 billion of historic rehab—yes, billion. The credit is still in place and attracting new investment, years after the pilot project first passed. Not bad for a student project!

Shelby Star

Ted Alexander was awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine in 2023. The award will be presented to him at the Champions Ceremony during the NC Main Street Conference on Thursday, March 14, at 11 a.m. at the Paramount Theater in Goldsboro.

The Order of the Long Leaf Pine is the highest honor awarded by the governor’s office and is presented to individuals who have a proven record of extraordinary service to North Carolina. Some of the guidelines by which recipients are selected for the award include significant contributions to communities and many years of service to an organization.

“The State of North Carolina reserves its highest civilian honor for North Carolinians who exhibit exemplary service and exceptional accomplishment to and on behalf of their state and their community. I can think of no more worthy recipient of this extraordinary honor than Ted Alexander,” Patrick N. Woodie, president & CEO of the NC Rural Center, said in a press release.

Alexander’s contributions to North Carolina are the result of a lifetime of personal and professional achievements. Recently retired, he worked for private nonprofit organizations and public agencies in historic preservation and downtown revitalization throughout his entire career.

Born and raised in Morganton, Alexander graduated from Freedom High School and obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from UNC-Charlotte in 1982 and his master’s degree in historic preservation from Cornell University in 1985. His decades of experience in historic preservation and downtown revitalization started with a summer internship with the NC State Historic Preservation Office in 1981 through the UNC Institute of Government.

Most of Alexander’s professional career was spent in Shelby, where he served for nearly 14 years as the executive director of Uptown Shelby Association’s Main Street revitalization program, and then two terms as mayor, from 2003-2011.

Shelby was one of the original five Main Street communities in North Carolina.

For 18 years, 2005-2023, Alexander served as regional director for Preservation North Carolina’s Western Office, serving 37 counties from an office in Shelby. As the state’s only private nonprofit statewide historic preservation organization, Preservation NC’s mission is to protect and preserve places important to the diverse people of North Carolina. During his time with the organization, 146 historic buildings in his region were protected in perpetuity through preservation covenants or easements. He retired from Preservation NC in January 2023.

Alexander has left a legacy in Shelby, Cleveland County and the Western North Carolina region through his work with the Main Street Program, his directorship of the Uptown Shelby Association and his work with Preservation NC.

As mayor of Shelby, he continued to work to improve the community. From working with the homeless and their advocates – helping birth the Inter-Faith Alliance that promises to bring change and aid to the situation of homelessness in Cleveland County.

He is currently serving his second term in the N.C. Senate, having been first elected in 2018, representing District 44, comprised of Lincoln, Clevelan, and a portion of Gaston counties. As a senator, he has been an important advocate for the state’s historic rehabilitation tax credits, which have resulted in more $3.25 billion in revitalization since their inception in 1993. Numerous vacant industrial factories and schools have been transformed by these credits for 21st Century research and innovation, housing (including affordable), and commercial enterprises.

“Without question, Ted’s exemplary public service to North Carolina makes him most deserving of The Order of the Long Leaf Pine,” said Myrick Howard, Preservation NC’s President Emeritus, who will be presenting the award to Ted in March.

The award will be presented to him at the Champions Ceremony in March. To register to attend the free event, go to www.ncmainstreetpartners.regfox.com/2024-ncms-awardsorchampion-ceremony.

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Spectrum News 1
By

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — A longstanding church in a historically Black neighborhood in Asheville, built in 1908 and rebuilt in 1926, has been saved from the wrecking ball.

“Developers had bought it and were going to develop this whole area, and the neighborhood was really upset,” Executive Director of the Preservation Society of Asheville & Buncombe County Jessie Landl said. “It’s an important landmark for the community.”

According to Landl, the Cappadocia Church saw its last congregation on Beaucatcher Mountain around 2013.

Even if not currently open, the church continues to hold stories and connections as a part of Asheville’s East End neighborhood.

“The transfers in the newspaper showed that it had sold, and so, we reached out to the neighborhood association and asked what their feelings were and they were really adamant that the church be saved,” Landl said.

And that is exactly what they are doing. Affordable housing soon became a part of the plan, and Landl’s team is now partnering with the Asheville Buncombe Community Land Trust as an affordable housing partner.

“The first reason this project is important is this is Asheville’s oldest Black neighborhood, hardest hit by urban renewal and under incredible development pressure right now really close to downtown,” Landl said. “As you drive around this neighborhood, you’ll see that the houses are just getting purchased, demolished and new things built in their place. So it’s really important to see preservation happen in this neighborhood.”

Landl said the affordable housing crisis in Asheville was important to take into account with this project, bringing up many questions on how to move forward.

“We have an affordable housing crisis,” Landl said. “We also don’t want to come in and gentrify neighborhoods. So how do you kind of accomplish all of these things at once? We think preservation is a really good tool for affordable housing.”

Not only do they plan to preserve the building, but this change will help tell new stories too.

“We’re working on getting the site rezoned and also working on designing it to fit three apartments into it,” Landl said. “So, it’ll have two units in the front of the church going this way and one in the back of the church going that way. The goal is for them all to be deeply affordable.”

Landl says the exterior of the building will remain what it has always been in the neighborhood. The preservation team is in the midst of the first part of the project.

“Phase one of the church project, which is the design phase and planning phase, is really going to take place through all of this year,” Landl said.

Phase two of the project will include rehabilitating the house they also purchased next door, which they plan to start next month. Phase three will be rehabilitating the church, which will include putting together funding partners, along with the project’s design and engineering work.

Click here to view the article online and to watch the video interview with Jessie Landl at the church

RALEIGH, N.C. — The men who built our state’s most iconic building, although they were enslaved, left a legacy for all North Carolinians. Their contribution to the construction of the State Capitol during the 1830s has been researched by a team of historians who will present their initial findings during an upcoming virtual Lunch & Learn program hosted by the State Archives.

In this program, State Capitol staff also will discuss the launch of “From Naming to Knowing,” the project’s website. They also will provide genealogy tips for researching the lives of the enslaved.

The panel of presenters will include State Capitol Historic Site staff Terra Schramm, Kara Deadmon, and Natalie Rodriguez, and Alex Dowrey, archivist for state agency records.

The event is scheduled Wednesday, Feb. 21, from noon to 1 p.m.

Register in advance: www.zoomgov.com/webinar/register/WN_BBcAdL66Sj2P0hWweKnxyQ#/registration

View article online

 

wfdd
by Paul Garber

The city of Winston-Salem is honoring Black History Month with a traveling exhibit celebrating the history of Black builders and craftspeople.

The exhibit called “We Built This” celebrates those whose labor and skill contributed to the urban environment in the city and across the state.

Among those honored is George Black, whose work included providing the handmade bricks for the original North Carolina Baptist Hospital.

His granddaughter, former state Representative Evelyn Terry, told the story about how as a child George Black walked from Randolph to Forsyth County, looking for better opportunities.

She says if he were alive today her grandfather would be proud of the contributions that Black workers have had and continue to have on the city.

“He would look and say, ‘My, my, look what they’ve done. And look what I was even able to accomplish,'” she says. “There can be even more, perhaps in the future for those who come after all of us, because we have decided that we know how to work together.”

On Friday, visitors wandered through the restored Union Station to see poster boards detailing their work.

East Ward Councilwoman Annette Scippio says the exhibit adds a new layer of understanding of the rich cultural history that the African-American community has contributed locally and in North Carolina.

“It’s sort of like the movie Hidden Figures,” she says. “They’re at the same level, people who were doing excellent work and never got recognition for it.”

The exhibit is sponsored by Forsyth County’s Historic Resources Commission, The African-American Heritage Initiative, and Winston-Salem State University.

The Winston-Salem Fairgrounds Farmers Market will host the self-guided tour for the remaining Saturdays of February. After that, it moves to the C.G. O’Kelly Library at Winston-Salem State University.

Read the article here

Salisbury Post
By Brad Dountz

SALISBURY — Harvey Gantt has been a beacon of hope for many people who have aspired to do more with their lives despite their circumstances. As an architect, politician and public figure, Gantt has never slowed down in his pursuit of making a difference.

On Feb. 1, Gantt spoke at the welcome reception for the “We Built This: Profiles of Black Architects and Builders in North Carolina” traveling exhibit that has relocated to Livingstone College to coincide with Black History Month.

The exhibit was partly sponsored by the Historic Salisbury Foundation so that they could continue to bring to light the figures that have laid the groundwork of where we are today.

“For 52 years, Historic Salisbury Foundation has had a mission to preserve and protect the historic fabric of Salisbury and Rowan County and a lot of that has to do with saving buildings. Another part of that is partnering with the community and a great example of that is tonight,” HSF Executive Director Kimberly Stieg said.

Livingstone President Dr. Anthony Davis introduced Gantt at the reception and praised him for the impact he has made not just in the Carolinas, but the entire country.

“He inspired not a generation, but generations,” Davis said. “Sometimes standing up for what’s right means having the courage to blaze your own trail.”

In 1963, Gantt became the first Black student enrolled at Clemson University. After he graduated, he obtained his master’s from MIT and then founded Gantt Huberman Architects with Jeff Huberman in 1971. He was then elected as Charlotte’s first Black mayor in 1983.

“When I got to school, a lot of people thought I should have the burden of the entire African American race on my shoulders and it didn’t quite feel that way. It always felt that the promise of America was going to be made real by pursuing education, vigor, energy and preparation. I was always confident that I could make it through and do well,” Gantt said.

When it came to architecture, Gantt mentioned the educators and guidance counselors that pushed him towards his lifelong profession. While only 2 percent of architects in America are Black, that fact motivated Gantt even more.

“It felt very natural doing it. For me, it was an artform that made a lot of sense,” Gantt said.

Gantt and Huberman’s firm started with just the two of them, but it grew exponentially over time. They had no desire to be like the other architecture firms they competed with, they aimed to represent the true social fabric of where they lived.

“We wanted the firm to look like America,” Gantt said. “Sometimes when you want diversity, you have to be intentional about it. You have to go out and work for that diversity, you can’t expect that diversity and sympathy to walk in.”

Gantt Huberman Architects designed several public and private projects that included the Charlotte Transportation Center, churches, libraries and buildings at Johnson C. Smith University.

“We wanted to create meaningful places, places that people would remember. We didn’t want to do anything what we call ‘cookie cutter.’ We wanted spaces that were creative and that were memorable,” Gantt said. “When I look back over our legacy and remember what our goals were when we started that firm years ago with a couple people, we succeeded.”

Once Gantt finished his speech, Mayor Karen Alexander, herself an architect who previously worked with Gantt at his firm, shared how much he shaped her to go out and thrive on her own.

“I feel so grateful to you all these years later because you put my life on a certain path that I didn’t believe at the time, that I could have my own firm,” Alexander said.

People then made their way over to the “We Built This” exhibit next door to take in an unsung aspect of history. Gantt said he already saw the exhibit last year in Charlotte, but he still relishes its significance.

“I’m glad to see it on an HBCU campus,” Gantt said. “If you think about the percentage of architects in America that are Black, this is very special that they’re doing this and showing this here in the deep South in a wonderful place like this.”

View the article online

Preservation Magazine, Winter 2024
The National Trust for Historic Preservation

Architect Eddie Belk, 74 years old and dressed in a well-worn green T-shirt, khaki pants, and a red-and-white North Carolina State University ball cap, looks over what was once an enormous cotton-spinning room at Revolution Mill in Greensboro, North Carolina. It’s an impressive scene: two rows of 14-foot-tall heart-pine columns run down the middle of the expanse, longer than two football fields. Sunlight from the clerestory windows above creates patterns on the polished maple floors. White doors with transom windows on each side of this building and an adjacent one lead to 150 apartments with tall ceilings, recycled-glass countertops, and exposed brick walls. “No matter who I bring in here, they get that smile on their face trying to gather it all in,” he says, noticing my grin. “It’s a wonderful space. I’ll come in here just to spend a minute. Just to enjoy it.”

Decades ago, this space was impressive for different reasons. This was the heart of Revolution Cotton Mills, at one time the largest cotton flannel mill in the world. The spinning room was where hundreds of looms the size of golf carts clattered away, 24 hours a day. Cotton lint filled the air as fans moving along a track, still present on the ceiling, blew debris off the machines. Giant “air washer” units did their best to suck the particles out of the room. Workers, dubbed “lintheads” by those outside the mill communities, would leave their shifts covered in dust. Some came down with brown lung disease caused by inhaling fibers or lost fingers to the rapidly moving looms. Millwork was a dangerous job.

This spinning room is one of nine renovated buildings—six contiguous—on the sprawling 42-acre campus of Revolution Mill, a mixed-use development that includes apartments, offices, restaurants, shops, and event spaces. Belk, principal at Belk Architecture in Durham, North Carolina, is eager to show me them all. This is the 14th mill complex that Belk’s firm has worked on, and at 750,000 square feet it isn’t even the largest. That title goes to the 1-million-square-foot American Tobacco factory: nine buildings in Durham that Belk and his team turned into a mixed-use campus, the first tenants arriving in 2005. All told, Belk says he’s redesigned more than 7 million square feet of historic properties since launching his firm on his birthday in 1982. “This is one of my architectural children that I’m proud of,” he says of Revolution Mill in a lilting Carolina drawl. “By the time we got to this one, [old mills] were just something that we understood.”

We began our tour several hours earlier in what was the distribution warehouse, a five-story, brick-clad building that dates to 1915 (with a 1930 addition). Here, workers would store reams of finished flannel awaiting pickup via trains on adjacent tracks. Belk’s firm ended up removing a 40- by 40-foot section of the building’s interior to create a soaring atrium topped by skylights. At night, LED lights mounted on metal rings around concrete support columns shine upward. “It’s just a beautiful sight,” he says.

Traces of the building’s prior use can be found throughout: nicks on the columns from careless forklift operators, scorch marks from some past fire, an old bale press repurposed into a bench. On one concrete support someone has scrawled, “T.W. Nelson, Aug. 27, 1969.”

When Belk and his team surveyed the property in 2013, they found the majority of the mill buildings structurally sound. The sturdy columns and floors had done their jobs, but most structures required new roofs. As in many Southern mills, at some point the windows throughout the complex had been bricked over, as the advent of air washing systems and fluorescent lighting replaced natural ventilation and sunlight. During the rehabilitation, crews removed these bricks and repaired and replicated hundreds of windows and frames throughout, including in the warehouse, dubbed Mill House.

These days, the warehouse holds a coworking space, a nail salon, a cosmetic medical office, a future eatery and market, and three apartments on its ground floor. Upper floors contain another 30 apartments as well as office space, including the homes of two national textile design firms. More than four decades after Revolution Mill’s looms went silent, the textile industry has returned. “These companies have all decided, ‘Well, let’s go back to the mill,’” says Belk. “It seems very appropriate, doesn’t it?”

Revolution Mill’s roots date to 1891, when brothers Moses and Ceasar Cone, the two eldest sons of a prominent German-Jewish immigrant family in Baltimore, formed the Cone Export & Commission Company to broker Southern textile products. Soon they decided to operate their own mills and built their first Greensboro plant, Proximity Cotton Mills, which began weaving denim in 1896. Revolution was the brothers’ second mill; they opened it in 1899 with business partners Emanuel and Herman Sternberger specifically to produce cotton flannel. Six years later the Cones finished building White Oak Cotton Mills, which became the world’s largest denim factory, eventually supplying material for Levi Strauss, Lee, Wrangler, and others. Proximity Print Works, opened in 1912, was the South’s first plant to specialize in printed cotton fabrics.

Like other mill owners in the region, the Cones built self-sufficient villages for their employees. The company provided land for churches, stores, schools, playing fields, and recreation centers, and constructed hundreds of simple clapboard company-owned houses that workers leased. Black employees lived in a separate village and often worked lower-paying jobs at the mills or toiled in the houses of company higher-ups who occupied an area dubbed “Snob Hill.” By the 1940s, more than 2,600 workers lived in 1,500 houses around the four plants.

But by the 1970s, the American textile industry was in decline, as manufacturing jobs moved overseas. Revolution Mill produced its last flannel in 1982, and the complex was left to deteriorate. The local economy also declined as workers sought opportunities elsewhere. The other Cone mills closed, with White Oak hanging on until early 2018—one of the last remaining denim mills in the country.

Proximity Cotton Mills was razed, and many thought Revolution Mill would suffer the same fate. “Mills were not celebrated as part of North Carolina history at all,” says Benjamin Briggs, head of Preservation North Carolina, who previously consulted on the rehabilitation of Revolution as executive director of Preservation Greensboro. He says lawsuits from brown lung and the rapid decline of United States–made textiles precipitated the demolition of historic mills across the state. “How did you deal with our deep textile mill history?” asks Briggs. “You got rid of it.”

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The city of Winston-Salem has a new way for you to commemorate Black History Month.

“We Built This” will be an exhibit to highlight Black builders and craftspeople in North Carolina. It opens at Union Station, on 300 South Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, on Friday, Feb. 2, from noon to 4 p.m. There will also be a program at 2 p.m.

There will be stories of the people who designed historic sites, such as internationally known brickmaker George Black.

After Friday, the traveling exhibit will move to the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds Farmers Market at 2532 Farmers Market Way in Winston-Salem. There, it will be open from 6 a.m. to noon on Feb. 10, 17, and 24.

In March, the exhibit moves to the C.G. O’Kelly Library on the campus of Winston-Salem State University.

The Historic Resources Commission, the African American Heritage Initiative, and Winston-Salem State University are sponsoring it.

This is just the start of several ways the city of Winston-Salem is helping sponsor Black History Month events.

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SALISBURY — Livingstone College will honor its founder, Dr. Joseph Charles Price, on Feb. 8, at 10 a.m., during the Founder’s Day Program at Varick Auditorium. The Right Rev. Dennis V. Proctor will be the keynote speaker. This program is open to the Salisbury Community; everyone is welcome to attend.

The Andrew Carnegie Library is set to reopen on Feb. 1 and will host the “We Built This” exhibit, which will showcase the work of Black Architects and Builders in North Carolina. The exhibit will run from Feb. 1-29. On the same day, there will be a reception in the Shipman Science Building with Harvey Gantt, an architect and politician, as the guest speaker. The event is sponsored by Preservation North Carolina, Historic Salisbury Foundation, Livingstone College, and Rowan Library. If you’d like to attend, register by sending an email to jcockerl@livingstone.edu.

The Andrew Carnegie Library will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Smithsonian Exhibition “Exploring Human Origins” during Founder’s Week. The exhibition will open on Feb. 5 at 11 a.m. and be on display until May 15.

Additionally, Heritage Hall will reopen on Feb. 6 at 10 a.m. with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and viewing special exhibits. If you wish to attend the ribbon-cutting for Heritage Hall, please register through email at kallman@livingstone.edu.

For more information about other scheduled events happening during February, go to www.livingstone.edu.

View the article on the Salisbury Post

 

 

Thirty-one Black churches have received a total of $4 million to help preserve their buildings and the Black history they represent.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation announced the second round of Preserving Black Churches grants from its African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund on Monday (Jan. 15), the national holiday honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Along with the funds provided last year, the Action Fund has supported more than 70 historic churches with $8.7 million in grants.

“We created the Preserving Black Churches program to ensure the historic Black church’s legacy is told and secured,” said Brent Leggs, executive director of the fund, in a statement, adding that “these cultural assets can continue to foster community resilience and drive meaningful change in our society.”

This year’s grants, which range from $50,000 to $200,000, will allow congregations to address issues such as mold contamination, demolition, water filtration and deferred maintenance.

Among the recipients this year is Town Clock Church in New Albany, Indiana, which was constructed in 1852 and then named Second Presbyterian Church. It was a station on the Underground Railroad, providing shelter to enslaved people who were fugitives. Funds earmarked for endowment and financial sustainability will be used to maintain 2014 preservation and restoration efforts.

Others include African Methodist Episcopal churches that received capital project grants. For example, Atlanta’s Big Bethel AME Church was the birthplace of Morris Brown College, the first educational institution in Georgia owned completely by African Americans. New Orleans’ St. James AME Church was a gathering site for marchers of the Civil Rights Movement and the headquarters of the Louisiana Native Guards, Black Union soldiers who fought in the Civil War.

Historian Henry Louis Gates Jr., an adviser to the fund, which is supported by Lilly Endowment Inc., welcomed the decisions on the new grant recipients, some of which currently have facilities that are closed due to structural damage.

“The heart of our spiritual world is the Black church,” said Gates in the announcement. “These places of worship, these sacred cultural centers, must exist for future generations to understand who we were as a people.”

The other recipients are:

Receiving planning grants:

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Fort Valley, Georgia

Mount Carmel Missionary Baptist Church, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Moore’s Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, Morrilton, Arkansas

Calvin Memorial Presbyterian Church, Omaha, Nebraska

St. Peter’s United Methodist Church, Oxford, North Carolina

Henderson Chapel AME Zion Church, Rutledge, Tennessee

Ward Chapel AME Church, Cairo, Illinois

Taveau Church, Cordesville, South Carolina

Receiving programming and interpretation grants:

Mt. Zion AME Church, Skillman, New Jersey

Guidance Church of Religious Science, Los Angeles, California

Gather Place (the former African Methodist Episcopal Church of Yardley) in Yardley, Pennsylvania

Receiving organizational capacity grant:

The House of God Church – Keith Dominion, Nashville, Tennessee

Receiving capital projects grants:

Shiloh Baptist Church, Cleveland, Ohio

Union Bethel AME Church, Great Falls, Montana

First Zion Baptist Church, Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, Houston, Texas

Central United Methodist Church, Jackson, Mississippi

Washington Chapel Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, Kansas City, Missouri

Beulah Missionary Baptist Church, Natchez, Mississippi

Jacob’s Chapel AME Church, Mount Laurel, New Jersey

St. Augustine Catholic Church, New Orleans, Louisiana

St. Paul AME Church, Lexington, Kentucky

Thomas Memorial AME Zion Church, Keeseville, New York

Mother Bethel AME Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tabernacle Baptist Church, Selma, Alabama

First Missionary Baptist Church, Thomasville, Georgia

Campbell AME Church, Washington, D.C.

St. Paul’s Methodist Church, Augusta, Kentucky

Click here to view the article online.

Salisbury Post

SALISBURY — As part of the Historic Salisbury Foundation’s ongoing “We Built This” exhibit, Charlotte’s first Black mayor Harvey Gantt will be featured during a special presentation at Livingstone College.

The event will take place at F. George Shipman Science Center at Livingstone College at 701 W. Monroe St. in Salisbury on Feb. 1 at 6:30 p.m.

It is a free event. There is limited seating and registration is required if you wish to attend. Light refreshments will be provided.

The presentation is part of the “We Built This” exhibit. Guests may view the exhibit from 5-8:30 p.m. at Livingstone’s Andrew Carnegie Library.

The “We Built This” exhibit is at the Rowan Public Library through January and may be viewed during operating hours.

The public may request to view the exhibit during the month of February, Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-8 p.m., by contacting Livingstone College librarian Jeffrey Cockerel at 704-216-6330 or jcockerl@livingstone.edu.

The ‘We Built This’ exhibit is sponsored by Joe L. & Hester M. Sims Family Foundation and Edward and Susan Norvell with special thanks to Preservation North Carolina, The Historic Preservation Foundation of North Carolina, Inc., Rowan Public Library and Livingstone College.

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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.

Click here to view the article online.

By Sydney Smith Hamrick
Rowan Public Library

During the week of Jan. 8, creatives and builders are invited to attend We Can Build This, a special all-ages STEAM building program, at any of RPL’s branches. The program is inspired by the “We Built This: Profiles of Black Architects and Builders in North Carolina” exhibit, which is currently on display at RPL Headquarters through Jan. 27.  Interested participants can attend any of the program’s dates during the week of January 8:

• Monday, Jan. 8, 4 p.m. at RPL West (Cleveland)
• Tuesday, Jan. 9, 4 p.m. at RPL Headquarters (Salisbury)
• Wednesday, Jan. 10, 4 p.m. at RPL South (China Grove)
• Saturday, Jan. 14, 11 a.m. at RPL East (Rockwell)

The program invites participants to construct their own buildings and structures out of recycled and repurposed materials. A wide assortment of building materials, including cardboard, paper tubes, tape, will be provided by the library. Individuals, groups, and families will have a full hour to build and create any sort of structures they like, turning recyclables into new, unique creations. To kick off the program at each location, Kim Smith’s book “Boxitects,” a story all about teamwork, being creative, and building with unexpected materials will be read aloud as a short all-ages storytime for children and adults alike.

Besides getting creative and building, participants visiting the RPL Headquarters program on Tuesday, Jan. 9 will also have a chance to explore the “We Built This” exhibit and learn more about the many black builders, architects, brick masons and craftspeople who worked hard to create much of the architectural landscape seen in North Carolina today. Spanning more than three centuries, the exhibit 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. The exhibit is sponsored by Joe L. & Hester M. Sims Family Foundation and Edward & Susan Norvell and is in collaboration with the Historic Salisbury Foundation, Rowan Public Library, Livingstone College, and Friends of Rowan Public Library.

The We Can Build This program is open to participants of all ages and is free to the public; all materials will be provided. To learn more, call 980-432-8670 to connect with your most convenient RPL branch.

Read the article online here.

 

By Laurie Lyda
Rowan Public Library

This January, you’re invited to visit the traveling exhibit “We Built This: Profiles of Black Architects and Builders in North Carolina” at Rowan Public Library’s Headquarters branch, located at 201 W. Fisher St. in Salisbury. The free exhibit is located on the first floor of the library and is open to the public during the branch’s operating hours (Monday through Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Thursday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.)

Presented by Preservation North Carolina, this exhibit is sponsored by Joe L. & Hester M. Sims Family Foundation and Edward & Susan Norvell and is in collaboration with the Historic Salisbury Foundation, Rowan Public Library, Livingstone College and Friends of Rowan Public Library.

“We Built This” celebrates the history and legacy of Black builders and craftspeople in North Carolina. Spanning more than three centuries, the exhibit provides more than two dozen personal profiles and historic context on key topics including slavery and Reconstruction; the founding of Historically Black College and Universities (HBCUs) and Black churches; Jim Crow and segregation; and the rise of Black civic leaders and professionals. Salisbury’s Livingstone College is among the featured HBCUs.

January offers several free opportunities for the community to engage with the exhibit through RPL-hosted programs and activities:

On Jan. 8 at 9 a.m., a virtual “Photowalk at Livingston College” will be shared via RPL’s YouTube channel (bit.ly/RPL_Youtube) and social media accounts. This virtual program will focus on the earliest buildings found on college grounds, several of which are featured in the “We Built This” exhibit. The video’s guides will provide information about each location and compare the images of vintage campus architecture with contemporary photographs that show how these long-standing buildings look today. To learn more about this virtual program, contact David at David.Lamanno@rowancountync.gov or 704-216-8229.

During the week of Jan. 8, each of RPL’s four branches will host an “All Ages STEAM Challenge.” STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics, and this program challenges participants to employ those skillsets! All ages and all skill levels are invited to learn about famous builders featured in the “We Built This” exhibit and use recycled materials such as cardboard boxes, wrapping paper tubes and tape, to design their own unique structures. All materials will be provided. This STEAM challenge is designed for all ages. Children ages 8 and under must be accompanied by a responsible caretaker (age 16+). RPL West (Cleveland) hosts this program on Monday, Jan. 8, at 4 p.m.; RPL Headquarters (Salisbury) hosts on Tuesday, Jan. 9, at 4 p.m.; RPL South (China Grove) hosts on Wednesday, Jan. 10, at 4 p.m.; and RPL East (Rockwell) hosts on Saturday, Jan. 13, at 11 a.m. To learn more, call 980-432-8670.

Each RPL branch will feature a “We Built This Family Storytime” during the week of Jan. 22. Children are invited to enjoy stories and activities about Black architects and builders of North Carolina. While designed for children ages 5 and under, all are welcome. Children ages 8 and under must be accompanied by a responsible caregiver (age 16+). Runtime is approximately 45 minutes. This special storytime will be held at 4 p.m. at each location: RPL West (Cleveland) on Monday, Jan. 22; RPL East (Rockwell) on Tuesday, Jan. 23; RPL South (China Grove) on Wednesday, Jan. 24; and RPL Headquarters (Salisbury) on Thursday, Jan. 25. To learn more, call 980-432-8670.

Through Jan. 27, special activities are also available for those who visit the exhibit in person. Visitors are invited to complete an all-ages scavenger hunt or matching activity as they tour through the exhibit. All activity participants are eligible to receive a small prize immediately upon completion; they may also submit their completed form as an entry for a raffle prize. To learn more, call 704-216-8240.

For those who want to read further about the Black architects and craftspeople highlighted in the “We Built This” exhibit, a variety of resources are available through RPL. A selection of books, articles, databases, and other resource recommendations may be accessed via www.rowancountync.gov/1908/Read-to-Learn. A library card number is required for off-site e-Resource access. Patrons may obtain a physical library card number and four-digit PIN by visiting any RPL branch. Digital cards may be obtained by visiting bit.ly/rpl_obr. (If a patron has both a physical and a digital card, those numbers will not be the same.) For assistance, call 980-432-8670.

The “We Built This” exhibit will be on display at RPL Headquarters through Saturday, Jan. 27. It will then move to Livingston College for the month of February. For more information about RPL events, programs, and services, go to www.rowanpubliclibrary.org.

View the article on the Salisbury Post online

BY SARAH

Editor’s Note: J. Myrick Howard previously was honored as a News & Observer Tar Heel of the Week. This story was originally published Aug. 10, 1997. He was named The N&O’s Tar Heel of the Year in 2023.

J. Myrick Howard produces a key to the door of the old Briggs Hardware building on the Fayetteville Street Mall and promptly confronts a circumstance that, at one level or another, defines his life’s work: The door is stuck shut.

Given that this is frustratingly common — Howard, who last week began his 20th year as executive director of Preservation North Carolina, has grown accustomed to facing obstacles, doors included — he’d be forgiven an outburst. A hearty shove, at least.

Yet despite the jam, Howard is tenaciously patient. Even though there’s a meeting demanding his attention in 15 minutes, and the building he is supposed to be showing is sealed tight, he remains perfectly at ease, willing instead to discuss the exterior renovation that soon will transform the four-story structure from its current state of neglect to the glory of its past.

And why get all flustered, really? A couple of workmen soon appear and solve the problem. Within minutes, the door is flung open and Howard, as usual, is in.

“His ego never gets in the way — never, never,” says Carol Wyant, director of statewide partnerships for the Washington-based National Trust of Historic Preservations. “He focuses on the mission and, if one way won’t work, he finds what will.”

Howard’s steady leadership has made Preservation North Carolina one of the nation’s premier historic conservation groups, Wyant says, comparable in scope and achievement to groups in Georgia, Indiana, New York, Pennsylvania and Utah.

His group has risen in stature along with his reputation — a 20-year evolution inextricably linked. When Howard joined Preservation North Carolina in 1978, he was 25 years old and fresh out of college. He became the assistant director of the nonprofit foundation, which is dedicated to saving the state’s historic buildings and places.

It was a part-time post — one that he chose over a full-time position offered by the National Trust in Washington. But Howard says he was never torn between the two offers; he wanted to stay in North Carolina.

Such a commitment to place, he says, is deeply rooted. He grew up in a house that his grandfather built 80 years ago in Lakewood, a working-class neighborhood in Durham. His mother moved there when she was 3 and still lives there. His father, a machinist at American Tobacco, never worked anywhere else.

“I grew up with stability and continuity,” Howard says. “I had a real sense of place.”

He remembers how, when he was a kid, such Durham landmarks as the Benjamin Duke mansion were torn down — “to make way for motels and in some cases to make way for nothing,” he says.

So by the time he went to college, his career track was set. First he studied at Brown University, then at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he collected three degrees. He says he remembers telling the dean of the law school that he was pursuing his law degree to go into historic preservation.

“He laughed,” Howard says. “Now they ask me back to talk about alternative degrees in law.”

Continue reading on The News & Observer online

 

 

BY RICHARD STRADLING

Myrick Howard says when Preservation North Carolina sets out to protect buildings and places, it has succeeded far more often than it has failed.

But in 45 years leading Preservation NC, Howard can point to a few endeavors that fell short and places that were lost despite his and the statewide organization’s best efforts.

Here’s a short list:

RECTIFYING A SHAMEFUL HISTORY BY ERASING IT

Wakestone was the mansion built in Raleigh for Josephus Daniels in the early 1920s as he was nearing the end of his tenure as U.S. Secretary of the Navy. Daniels was later U.S. ambassador to Mexico under Franklin Roosevelt and for more than 50 years was owner and editor of The News & Observer until his death in 1948.

The home was then sold to The Masonic Lodge of Raleigh, which added a large kitchen, meeting room and auditorium. In 1976, the building was named a National Historic Landmark, one of only three in the city, and became a local historic landmark in 1990.

The local landmark designation prohibited anyone from demolishing the building. But the focus on racism in America after the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police in 2020 brought renewed scrutiny to Daniels and his use of The N&O to promote white supremacy.

The Masons, who had long sought to sell the property, teamed up with a developer to ask the city to rescind the local landmark status. The City Council obliged in early 2021, and by year’s end the house was gone and the property divided into 11 house lots.

Preservation NC had tried to buy Wakestone, but its offer was turned down. Howard said removing the landmark status was a cynical move to take advantage of the Black Lives Matter movement and cash in on what had become valuable property.

“Preserving buildings is not about honoring individuals; it’s about recognizing where history happened,” Howard wrote in an essay in The N&O. “Historic preservation tangibly tells history’s complex stories, but only if the buildings survive.”

A MODERNIST HOME IN RALEIGH DISAPPEARS

George and Beth Paschal hired architect James Fitzgibbon, a founding member of N.C. State University’s College of Design, to design their one-story home on a large lot off Glenwood Avenue. The modernist house, built with granite, wood and glass, was finished in 1950. Instead of air conditioning, it had expansive windows for ventilation, heated floors and a sunken fireplace to provide warmth in the winter.

The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. But after the couple died, the house sat empty for years. After trying without success to find someone willing to restore the house, the family sold it to a builder who tore it down in 2013. Howard says he had just met with architects from Triangle Modernist Homes to devise a plan for the Paschal House when he learned it had been demolished.

FIRE PREYS ON A HISTORIC COTTON MILL

B. Frank Mebane built this two-story brick and timber textile mill in 1896 in what became a huge complex of mills along the Smith River in Eden in Rockingham County. After 105 years of churning out cotton yarn, the mill closed in 2001. Preservation NC took an option to buy the mill in 2013 and set about seeking someone to renovate the building and give it new life.

In 2017, it announced a sale to Pittsboro developer Faisal Khan, who had previously renovated old buildings in Virginia. It was being converted into apartments when fire destroyed the main building in January 2023. Howard cites Spray Cotton Mills as one of a handful of historic structures that have been lost to fire over the years, including the Carolina Mill in Burlington over Thanksgiving weekend.

CHARLOTTE LOSES A ‘STRANGELY COOL BUILDING’

The Charlotte Masonic Temple was “one of the most dramatic buildings in downtown Charlotte,” the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission wrote in 1980. Completed in 1914 on South Tryon Street, the four-story building was meant to look like King Solomon’s Temple, with two stone columns topped by lotus blossoms flanking the front doors.

First Union Bank acquired the building and much of the rest of the block for its new headquarters in the 1980s. Preservation NC tried to persuade the bank, now Wells Fargo, to incorporate the building into its plans, but it was razed in 1987 to create the plaza in front of the bank’s towers.

“It really truly was a building that everybody knew in downtown Charlotte,” Howard said. “And it was just iconic. It was a strangely cool building.”

The columns were saved, however, and erected in Rock Hill, South Carolina, in 1991 astride a prominent entrance to the city.

A SMALL HOUSE AMID BIG ONES

As the state began selling the grand old houses along Raleigh’s North Blount Street in 2015, Preservation NC had its eye on the smallest, most decrepit of them all. It made an offer on the McGee House, hoping to turn the white Tudor-style home into its headquarters.

But the state accepted a higher offer from the buyers of a larger house next door that wanted to demolish the McGee House and leave the lot unused. Howard says the law directing the state to sell the houses stipulated that they be preserved, but state officials didn’t see it that way.

“We got undercut by the bureaucracy of the State of North Carolina,” he said. “That was really frustrating.”

Read the article on The News & Observer online

BY RICHARD STRADLING

In 45 years as president of Preservation North Carolina, Myrick Howard can point to thousands of buildings and places across the state that he and his organization had a hand in revitalizing and protecting.

From modest farm houses to massive mills, Howard has helped find new purpose and vitality for the state’s historic structures.

He’s The News & Observer’s Tar Heel of the Year.

As he stepped down to make way for a new leader, The N&O asked Howard to identify some of the organization’s accomplishments that make him happiest and most proud.

Here’s a short list:

AN ANTEBELLUM MANSION AND ITS SLAVE QUARTERS

The 10,000-square-foot, 22-room Bellamy Mansion was built just before the start of the Civil War on Wilmington’s Market Street, a few blocks from the riverfront. The home was built for physician and merchant John D. Bellamy primarily by skilled enslaved workers and free Black artisans. Behind the mansion was a two-story brick building that served as a privy and the quarters for slaves who worked in the house.

Following an arson fire in 1972, family members and community volunteers worked to restore the house in hopes of opening it as a museum. Still struggling with that effort, the family donated the property to Preservation NC, which finished restoring the home, slave quarters and gardens and opened the site as a museum in 1994.

“That’s a house that deserves to be a museum,” Howard said. “That’s a house where you’re in Wilmington, it screams at you as you’re going down the street. But from the get-go we pushed on telling the stories of the connections to slavery and the enslaved folks who lived there.”

PRESERVING RALEIGH’S ‘FIRST SKYSCRAPER’

The four-story brick Briggs Building was heralded as “Raleigh’s first skyscraper” when it was completed on Fayetteville Street in 1874. While it housed numerous tenants in its upper floors, it was primarily home to Briggs Hardware for 120 years before the family decided to leave downtown.

Preservation NC teamed up with the A.J. Fletcher Foundation to acquire and restore the building starting in 1997, and both organizations moved their offices there. It’s one of several buildings Preservation NC restored and then occupied for a time, before moving on to the next building in need of saving. The organization left the Briggs Building in 2019 to move into the restored Graves-Fields and Hall houses in Raleigh’s Oberlin Village neighborhood (see below).

“If you compared where the Briggs Building was in terms of what was going on around it in downtown Raleigh in 1997 and 2017, we had done all we needed to do,” Howard said. “It was going to be just fine without us.”

MILL BUILDINGS ACROSS THE STATE

Preservation NC has acquired historic mill buildings and worker housing in places such as Gastonia, Edenton and Glencoe, playing a direct role in preventing them from being torn down.

But Howard says he had a larger impact by helping lead an effort to persuade the General Assembly to create tax credits for rehabbing and revitalizing old mills. He says the so-called Mills Bill, passed in 2005, has helped bring about $2.5 billion in private renovation projects across the state, turning old brick factories and warehouses into new work places, homes and restaurants.

“We’re to the point where our developer friends are saying, ‘There aren’t any mills left in Greensboro. There aren’t any mills left in Durham,’” he said. “So they’re looking at places like Rocky Mount and Kinston.”

SAVING A RALEIGH NEIGHBORHOOD FROM STATE NEGLECT

At the end of the 19th century, North Blount Street was one of Raleigh’s most fashionable neighborhoods, anchored by the Executive Mansion and lined with grand houses.

By the 1960s, many of those homes had fallen into disrepair or been divided into apartments and rooming houses. In 1965, the State Capital Planning Commission adopted a plan for a sprawling campus of state office buildings that called for demolishing many of the homes along Blount.

The plan was only partially carried out, but many of the grand old houses became state office buildings, and their decline continued. Howard and other Preservation NC allies persuaded lawmakers to order the state to sell the homes to private owners who would fix them up and care for them.

The state moved some houses, making vacant lots available for new apartments and townhouses and a new church. Eventually the state sold most of the big old houses, with the last, the Andrews-Duncan House, being fully restored earlier this year.

‘HITTING THE HISTORY JACKPOT’ IN OBERLIN VILLAGE

Preservation NC is now headquartered in two 19th century homes built by prominent families in Oberlin Village, the community established by former slaves after the Civil War on what was then the outskirts of Raleigh. Restoring and occupying the Hall and Graves-Fields houses was a way of preserving pieces of a historic African American community that is disappearing under new houses, condos and businesses.

But as important to Howard were the stories of the Hall, Graves and Fields families that the organization was able to uncover as it researched the homes. The families not only helped build a thriving community in the face of discrimination and segregation, they provided foundations, through education, for future generations who made their mark beyond the community and the state.

Howard refers to the project as “hitting the history jackpot” in Oberlin Village.

“There was just so much more history there than met the eye,” he said.

View the article on The News & Observer online

 

BY MARTHA QUILLIN

In a scene near the beginning of the 1997 movie “Titanic,” our heroine, Rose, peers out of a submarine surveying the ship’s wreckage to see through the murky water the corroded, but distinctly curlicued, metal grate of the double doors once leading to the First-Class Dining Saloon.

The broken ship has sat on the ocean floor for 84 years. But instantly, in the character’s mind, it’s 1912 and a pair of white-jacketed waiters swing open the gleaming doors to welcome Rose into the elegant Louis XVI-style room with its ornate columns, arched ceiling and elaborate plasterwork, in all their original glory.

Maggie Gregg believes something like that happens behind the eyes of her longtime boss, Myrick Howard, every time he crosses the threshold of a historic building that Preservation North Carolina has been summoned to try to rescue. Howard sees past the fallen chimneys of the 1800s farmhouses and the collapsed ceilings of the century-old schools and envisions, instead, what the structures used to be and what — with a little love and creative financing — they might become.

“He has such an enthusiasm and an ability to convey that vision,” said Gregg, who has been the Eastern regional director for PNC since 2016. “People naturally get excited about what he’s proposing, because he’s so excited and believes in it so much.”

For 45 years, J. Myrick Howard braved chiggers, mosquitoes, flea infestations, scorched roof rafters, rotted floor joists, recalcitrant land owners and unsympathetic zoning boards for the sake of saving nearly 900 structures that tell the stories of North Carolina. He’s The News & Observer’s 2023 Tar Heel of the Year, an annual honor that recognizes North Carolinians who have made a significant impact in the region and beyond.

STICKS AND STONES

Howard was born in 1953 in Durham, the second son of a career machinist for American Tobacco. Growing up, his family lived with his grandmother in the rock-solid home his grandfather had built in a working-class neighborhood using bricks salvaged from an old tobacco warehouse.

After graduating from Durham High as a National Merit Scholar with a four-year scholarship from American Tobacco, Howard went to Brown University for two years before transferring to UNC-Chapel Hill for an undergraduate degree in history.

He moved straight into grad school for double degrees in city planning and law, heading for what he expected to be a career in environmental law.

But along the way, he took a class in historic preservation and, “I got the bug,” he says, which prompted a professional detour that wasn’t as wild a turn as it might first appear. Some of the same statutes apply in both settings.

Meanwhile, from the 1950s through the 1970s, his hometown had undergone the same kind of “urban renewal” that happened across the country with the help of federal Housing and Urban Development and transportation grants. While aimed at updating aging infrastructure and encouraging economic growth, urban renewal nearly always resulted in the destruction of lower-income neighborhoods and business districts, with residents getting displaced and buildings being bulldozed. Often the structures were replaced with highway bypasses, such as the Durham Freeway, or their former lots were simply left empty.

Much of Durham’s African American community of Hayti was razed during that period, along with businesses and institutions that made up the Howard family’s daily life. Down came the school where Howard’s mother had worked as a secretary. Down came the car dealership that had kept his father on the road. The drug stores, the barber shops, the clothing stores and shoe shops, down, down, down, down.

Howard also recalls going with his father as a young boy to watch as one of the mansions of the Duke family — founders of American Tobacco — was demolished. They weren’t there to mourn, Howard says, just to observe as something that had once stood so proud was brought to the ground in someone’s notion of progress.

By the time he heard a UNC professor talk about the need to save the buildings that connect people to the past, Howard intuitively understood that buildings are part of the fabric of a community.

Continue reading on The News & Observer…

Two historic districts and 15 individual properties across the state have been added to the National Register of Historic Places, the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources announced.

Listing of a property in the National Register places no obligation or restriction on a private owner using private resources to maintain or alter the property. Over the years, various federal and state incentives have been introduced to assist private preservation initiatives, including tax credits for the rehabilitation of National Register properties. As of Jan. 1, 2023, over 4,209 historic rehabilitation projects with an estimated private investment of over $3.5 billion have been completed.

The following properties were reviewed by the North Carolina National Register Advisory Committee and subsequently nominated by the North Carolina State Historic Preservation Officer and forwarded to the Keeper of the National Register for consideration for listing in the National Register:

Central North Carolina

  • Coan-Gray House, Winston-Salem, Forsyth County, listed 8/7/2023
  • Downtown Greensboro Historic District (Additional Documentation II, Boundary Increase and Boundary Decrease), Greensboro, Guilford County, listed 4/20/2023
  • Flint Mill No. 2 – Burlington Industries, Inc. Plant, Gastonia, Gaston County, listed 4/19/2023
  • Alexander S. and Mary R. Hanes House, Winston-Salem, Forsyth County, listed 4/18/2023
  • Mooresville Water Pump and Filter Plant, Mooresville, Iredell County, listed 4/18/2023
  • William and Barbara Mutschler House, Wake Forest, Wake County, listed 4/20/2023
  • Jeter and Ethel Neville House, Carrboro, Orange County, listed 8/1/2023
  • Uzzell-Best Farm, La Grange, Wayne County, listed 9/7/2023
  • Wemple-Shelton House, Yanceyville, Caswell County, listed 8/8/2023

Eastern North Carolina

  • Davis School, Engelhard, Hyde County, listed 4/17/2023
  • Golden Asro and Ruth Holley Frinks House, Edenton, Chowan County, listed 8/8/2023
  • Holt’s Chapel School, Oriental vicinity, Pamlico County, listed 8/8/2023

Western North Carolina

  • Blue Ridge Tourist Court, Boone, Watauga County, listed 4/18/2023
  • Craggy Historic District, Woodfin, Buncombe County, listed 4/19/2023
  • Boyce K. and Kitzi McLamb Miller House, Asheville vicinity, Buncombe County, listed 8/7/2023
  • Waldensian Swiss Embroidery Company – Valdese Weavers, Inc. Mill, Valdese, Burke County, listed 8/9/2023
  • Eunice Waymon Birthplace, Tryon, Polk County, listed 5/18/2023

Click here to read the full article with all of the property details.
Published by Henderson Lightning, Lightning Reports

SALISBURY — Today, people all over North Carolina work to preserve and champion the historic buildings that have lasted for as long as the country has been in existence. What may not be on everyone’s mind are the countless African Americans who were responsible for designing and constructing the many historical structures that remind North Carolinians of their long, complicated past.

Between now and Jan. 27, 2024, the Rowan Public Library Headquarters in Salisbury will be hosting the traveling exhibit “We Built This: Profiles of Black Architects and Builders in North Carolina,” presented by Preservation North Carolina, that sets out to honor those who “built the historic buildings we collectively treasure.”

On Nov. 30, a welcome reception for the exhibit was held at the RPL Headquarters where many residents and city officials were in attendance to learn more about how North Carolina came to be.

Monica T. Davis, is the founder and executive director of the Rebirthing Our Cultural Kingdom (R.O.C.K.) Foundation, whose mission is to save Black-built shotgun-style homes from being demolished. Having assisted in making the exhibit a reality, Davis kicked off the reception by giving a presentation on her foundation, gentrification, and her fight for affordable housing.

Davis wanted to represent as much of the state in the exhibit as possible and to get across that African American builders have a much greater impact on modern times than people realize.

“The whole exhibition is storytelling based on the life and history of that particular African American and their way of life and what they contributed back to their communities,” Davis said.

The library is even including an “all-ages scavenger hunt” for anyone to enter for a chance to win multiple prizes.

Walking through the exhibit, it’s easy for it to feel like a time machine. It identifies the slaves who traveled over to North Carolina during the Colonial times and how their labor built some of the first American buildings. The exhibit takes people to the Civil War, Reconstruction and the present day. It also highlights the positive impact Black churches and Historically Black Colleges and Universities had on certain segments of the population when it came to education and fellowship.

These buildings act as examples to show how much African Americans can accomplish when given the same opportunities as others.

The exhibit had additional biographies on a multitude of African American carpenters, builders, brickmasons, and architects whose influence branched outside of their professions.

“Not that they just built buildings, but they were also leaders, there were politicians, schoolteachers, principals, so we wanted to tell the whole story of the history and narrative of African Americans from the slave ship all the way to North Carolina and the built environment they contributed to everybody that was able to see the architecture,” Davis said.

Mayor Karen Alexander is proud to have the exhibit in Salisbury and believes it can act as a tipping point for people to better understand the historical context of North Carolina.

“This is so great for our young people to see all the different components and facets of building from the design concept to the people who actually make it happen,” Alexander said. “Even with all of the constraints that those individuals faced, they could do that kind of beautiful work. It’s pretty inspirational.” When Jeffrey Sharp found out about the welcome reception and the exhibit, he felt like it was worth checking out for himself. After reading about all these people’s lives and the history of North Carolina, Sharp says he is now more capable of putting the present into the proper perspective.

“I’m really impressed at the depth of detail about some of the individuals who were involved in the project,” Sharp said. “I think every time that I learn more about the situation in the Antebellum South, it is more and more complicated in the way the legal system bent over backwards to try and accommodate slavery. There’s stories about people who were master builders who managed to practice a trade, some of them purchased their own freedom and then set about purchasing their own family members in some instances in order to bring them to freedom.”

After the “We Built This” exhibit leaves the RPL Headquarters, it will move to Livingstone College for the month of Feb.

By Brad Dountz, Salisbury Post
Click here to view the article online.

 

ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) – Around 75 attendees visited Rowan Public Library Headquarters after hours on Thursday, November 30 to hear Monica T. Davis speak on the topics of architecture, restoration, and the cultural value of preserving Black-built homes.

Davis, who is the founder and Executive Director of the Rebirthing Our Cultural Kingdom (R.O.C.K.) Foundation, headlined the welcome reception for North Carolina Preservation’s traveling exhibit We Built This: Profiles of Black Architects and Builders in North Carolina, which is currently on display at RPL Headquarters in Salisbury through January 27, 2024.

Davis’ knowledge of preservation and historic, Black-built homes runs deep. Not only does she hold a Master of Fine Arts degree in Interior Architecture and a Post Baccalaureate certificate in Historical Preservation, but she also has over 10 years of architecture experience and is the owner and principal designer of Rinascita Designs, LLC.

During her speech, Davis explained how devastating it was to see the historical, Black-built shotgun-style homes in her hometown of Wilson, NC falling into serious disrepair.

“The City of Wilson has not really invested in this area, and a lot of these homes have been renter-occupied for over 30 years. When I was doing my thesis survey, only one house had been owner-occupied. That shows that African Americans in this area weren’t able to create generational wealth because they had been renting the same homes for 30-plus years,” Davis explained. With a lack of attention to this important historical hub of Wilson, the homes – and their historical significance – teetered on the edge of total loss. Davis wanted to do more than preserve these structures. She also wanted to preserve the deep cultural and historical value they held for Wilson’s Black community.

By establishing the R.O.C.K. Foundation, Davis contributed much information and research to the We Built This exhibit. As she learned more about the deteriorating shotgun-style homes in Wilson, she dove deeper into the historical context in which they were built. Many Black tobacco field laborers lived in these homes, which were the chosen style of residence because of their

slim designs. Davis explained that the shotgun-style house design originated in West Africa. Multiple shotgun-style homes could be squeezed into smaller plots of land, making them the most economical choice for workers’ housing. In turn, these neighborhoods became the setting for generations of Black families living in these homes, working on the local tobacco farms, and building a unique culture within their communities.

Davis explained how the R.O.C.K. Foundation does more than repairing and restoring the homes: it also serves to educate the community on the rich culture from which many Black Wilson residents come. Davis realized that many Wilson citizens, many of whom had ancestors living in these homes and working in the tobacco fields, didn’t fully understand the significance of the dilapidated homes. Not only were the homes Black-built, but they also served as the backdrop for the history of multiple generations of Wilson’s Black citizens.

However, the R.O.C.K. Foundation doesn’t stop with restoration and education. Davis takes her entire operation a major step further by making the restored shotgun-style homes available as affordable housing options for members of the Wilson community. “As you all know right now, inflation and the cost of living are skyrocketing, so an important part of my preservation work is creating affordable housing options from already-existing structures,” explained Davis.

After Davis’ presentation, attendees had a chance to tour through the entire We Built This exhibit, meet and speak with Davis, and enjoy refreshments together. Exhibit-goers also had the opportunity to complete scavenger hunt activities where the answers were tucked away within the exhibit’s informational panels and posters. Scavenger hunt activities are available for library visitors to complete throughout the exhibit’s stay at RPL Headquarters.

For those who missed the reception, there are multiple upcoming opportunities for you to enjoy programs and activities themed around We Built This. On Saturday, Dec. 9 at 12:30 pm, photographers of all skill levels are invited to join RPL staff at Livingstone College for a photowalk and take photos of historical buildings on campus, some of which are featured in the We Built This exhibit. To see a complete list of programming, visit bit.ly/WeBuiltThisRPL or call 980-432-8670 to connect with your most convenient RPL location.

The exhibit will remain at RPL Headquarters through January 27, 2024–interested visitors can view it during the branch’s regular business hours: Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday from 9 am to 9 pm; and Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 9 am to 6 pm. The exhibit will move to Livingstone College during the month of February 2024. We Built This is presented by Preservation North Carolina, sponsored by Joe L. & Hester M. Sims Family Foundation and Edward & Susan Norvell, and in collaboration with the Historic Salisbury Foundation, Rowan Public Library, Livingstone College, and Friends of Rowan Public Library.

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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.

Click here to view the article online on Chapelboro.com.

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 PreservationNC.org/experience/awards/, 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.

Click here to view the article on the Sandhills Sentinel

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: jtomlin@hpenews.com | 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.

The CityView News Fund is a nonprofit organization that supports CityView’s newsgathering operation. Will you help us with a tax-deductible donation?

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 david.reid@dncr.nc.gov or 910-500-4242 at the Museum of the Cape Fear or Demetrius Haddock at info.rjcaah@gmail.com 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 https://museumofthecapefear.ncdcr.gov/.

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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.

Click here to view the original article online.

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.”

‘HEAVY PRECEDENT’ FOR HIGHER DENSITY

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 www.historicbaltimoreschool.org.

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 www.oakridgenc.com). 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 www.oakridgenc.com (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 www.oakridgenc.com 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.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW AND DOWNLOAD ALL INFORMATION AND THE APPLICATION


INVITATION FOR BIDS

ARP/CSLFRF
BID #23-002: TOWN OF OAK RIDGE NC, FARMHOUSE COMMUNITY CENTER

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, asaunders@hillstudio.com, (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, hgreene@hillstudio.com, 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  www.1772foundation.org.

 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 https://PresPartners.org.

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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 info@presburlington.org or 336-539-1909. Application forms are available on the “Historic Property Grants” page at www.presburlington.org.

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 reynolda.org 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 reynolda.org 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 erica@psabc.org 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 jpatterson@presnc.org 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 www.oakridgenc.com (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 ssmith@oakridgenc.com.

* * *

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)