I hope you have seen some of the great press related to the work of our organization in the news recently. Our virtual Tour of Historic Homes & Gardens on South Elm Street and Southside, our young adult-oriented horror flick, and the promotion of historically Black neighborhoods of Nocho Park, Clinton Hills, and Benbow Park to the National Register are great examples of the work we have accomplished in 2020.
Early this year, we were delighted to be awarded the Peter Brink Leadership Grant by the National Trust For Historic Preservation to help bring Nancy Finegood to Greensboro as a consultant to share her experience at our annual meeting. Through her community-building consultation, Nancy promoted the Living Trades Academy program that she initiated in Michigan to local funders and educators. Though COVID has redirected our short term focus, our long-term interests remain in assisting with job training in historic preservation.
As the rise of the pandemic refocused our work to fundraising, in May the organization benefited from the generosity of a member who challenged us to raise $10,000, in order to match her gift of the same amount. Our members rose to the challenge and not only did we successfully match the challenge, but we doubled our challenge to $20,000! In light of the losses to our regular income stream, our membership has stepped up in a meaningful way to assure that the organization continues to serve its mission to build thriving communities by protecting and renewing our historic and architectural treasures.
In June, Preservation Greensboro celebrated the first new publication related to Blandwood in over 40 years. Governor Morehead’s Blandwood: A History & Catalog includes text and color images that demonstrate the fascinating history of this 220-year-old house. From its early associations with New York architect Alexander Jackson Davis to the influential Morehead family and their tantalizing collection of furniture and art, this publication takes a fresh look using recent research and studies. The book, edited by Judith Cushman Hammer, includes a Preface by Robert Leath and essays by Catherine Bishir, Benjamin Briggs, and Judith Cushman Hammer. The book is available through Preservation Greensboro’s website.
Over the remainder of the summer, we began to plan our ambitious schedule of autumn events, with a primary focus on the Tour of Historic Homes & Gardens. Thanks to the continued commitment of our sponsors and the coordination of PGI Community Outreach Director Kathryn McDowell, the virtual tour came together nicely for its release on October 10th. The tour showcased South Elm Street and the Southside neighborhoods by featuring several loft conversions and Queen Anne houses if the 1880s and 1890s. The centerpiece of the Tour was the Magnolia House, a Green Book hotel site that hosted numerous Black celebrities and elite guests.
Just as the tour was nearing its launch, we met Tiffany Luard, an intrepid and fearless media producer who coordinated local Triad-based film talent to create a short horror film in Blandwood entitled “Unrest.” The premise of the piece was a group of friends visits the museum with the understanding that it is a staged haunted house…but the ghosts and ghouls that greet them aren’t actors! The entire production was accomplished in just weeks by local talent and we hope it can be a Halloween tradition for Blandwood. Ghost stories are universal among global cultures, and now we have a little storyline of our own in Greensboro!
More than a decade ago, Preservation Greensboro staff and board began to look at East Greensboro neighborhoods such as Nocho Park, Clinton Hills, and Benbow Park as a remarkable treasure with important association with North Carolina’s Civil Rights Era contributions to the national and international movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Remarkably, these storylines of the Civil Rights Era are revealed in Modernist architecture created by Black architects and staff at nearby North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University. As a body of forward-looking work, these architectural touchstones in the form of houses and churches look forward to a progressive future of equity. Together, they represent an important benchmark in North Carolina history. Last year, PGI partnered with the City of Greensboro to inventory these examples of modern architecture in preparation for the option of applying for recognition to the National Register of Historic Places. In 2020, that initial survey was completed, and next steps are being planned in the form of oral history and documentation.
Preservation Greensboro is the only donor-supported organization dedicated to saving the Gate City’s historic and architectural treasures. Our staff, board, and volunteers have worked to preserve our historic buildings, neighborhoods, and landscapes. With your help we provide Greensboro with a unique sense of history and place and cultivate our city’s tradition of preservation, adaptive reuse, and renovation.
Thank you for your support in our local preservation movement.