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What is the Historic Wilmington Foundation?

Ben Steelman

Founded in 1966, the Historic Wilmington Foundation is a private, non-profit association devoted to preserving the architectural heritage of Wilmington and Southeastern North Carolina. The group claims credit for rescuing more than 100 historic properties from demolition, including 50 that were saved directly by purchase and resale.

Its headquarters are located at 516 N. Fourth St., Wilmington [Map this]. It may be contacted at 762-2511.

Early on, the foundation set up a revolving fund — the first of its kind in North Carolina — to buy endangered properties, to place protective covenants on them to ensure their continued protection and then to sell them for rehabilitation. Among its success stories is the DeRosset House at 23 S. Second St., Wilmington [Map this]. It also became involved as interim owner in the preservation and restoration of the old St. Andrew’s Church building on North Fourth Street. Since 2005, its offices have been located in the St. Andrew’s manse.

Among the foundation’s most visible activities is the authorization and distribution of plaques for historic buildings in New Hanover County; more than 375 have been installed to date. The plaques, which include brief history of each structure, are painted black for buildings older than 100 years, maroon for more recent structures. Any Wilmington building older than 75 years is eligible for a plaque. In Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach [Map this] and Kure Beach, structures older than 50 years are eligible. Plaques and their text are approved by a committee of the Foundation and installed at the property owner’s expense.

Foundation members pushed the creation of Wilmington’s National Register District and in obtaining National Register status for the Masonboro Sound, Carolina Heights and Carolina Place neighborhoods. They were also active in lobbying for historic district status for downtown Wilmington and Carolina Heights.

The foundation sponsors the annual Historic Homes Tour held each spring during the N.C. Azalea Festival. It offers a busy schedule of lectures, workshops and tours at other times of the year. To raise funds for its activities, members hold a fall gala and sponsor an annual 5-kilometer run through Wilmington’s downtown Historic District.

In 2000, the foundation celebrated the millennium by burying a community time capsule on the grounds of the Bellamy Mansion; it is scheduled to be recovered in the year 2250.

The group presents annual Preservation Awards to deserving local preservation projects each May as part of National Historic Preservation Month. Since 2006, it has also maintained a “Most Threatened Historic Places” list to increase public awareness.

A listing of properties available for rent in Wilmington’s Historic District is posted at the foundation’s Web site.

Annual dues in the Historic Wilmington Foundation begin at $40 for individuals, $15 for students and $60 for households.

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One Response to “ What is the Historic Wilmington Foundation?”

  1. On December 18, 2010 at 5:24 pm /bessie Ingram wrote:

    is the house on 4709 Wrightsville Ave
    qualified for a plaque

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