For 45 years the Historic Wilmington Foundation has worked to preserve the architectural and historical integrity of the Lower Cape Fear region. The Foundation was established in 1966 by a group of citizens concerned about the demolition of Wilmington's historic resources. A revolving fund (the first of its kind in NC) was set up to enable the HWF to save historic properties by buying them, placing protective covenants on them to ensure their continued protection, and selling them for rehabilitation. Nearly fifty properties have been directly saved by the HWF and hundreds more have been preserved because of the Foundation’s influence. We have also been successful in saving houses by having them moved and rehabilitated on a new lot.
The HWF sponsors a plaque program that recognizes the historical significance of homes over 75 years old. 500 plaques have been researched and approved for historic buildings throughout New Hanover County and beyond. The research is kept on file at the Foundation headquarters and in the North Carolina Room of the New Hanover County Library.
The HWF sponsors educational programs for our members and the community. In the past we have hosted numerous seminars, exhibits and lectures on topics including: vanished buildings of Wilmington, historic architecture, Rosenwald Schools, Wilmington's role in the Civil War and preservation tax credit workshops. Historic Wilmington has also sponsored book signings, tours of the City, cemeteries and Bald Head Island. Each year we have celebrated Preservation Month in May with a host of events, including the Preservation Awards for projects and achievements in restoration, infill, rehabilitation and research.
The Foundation hosts four annual fundraising events that are important sources of revenue and promote community awareness of the organization. The Home Tour during April's Azalea Festival features historic and contemporary houses of various styles and attracts many residents and visitors. The Foundation hosts a 5K Run through historic downtown Wilmington in September. This popular event is an unique midweek evening race through downtown Wilmington and culminates in a post-race party. In October, HWF hosts a Gala, an elegant evening of dining, dancing and live and silent auctions. In December we hold a Holiday Party to celebrate another year of Wilmington's preservation successes.
The HWF is also active in community services. We are an important resource for advice on historical renovations and repairs and provide rehabilitation product advice and technical assistance. HWF staff regularly provide tax credit information and assistance and an apartment listing of members who have rental property available in the district. In 2000 HWF sponsored Wilmington’s Millennium Time Capsule that will be buried in the Bellamy Mansion complex for 250 years. The capsule contained memorabilia from many local non-profit organizations and a signature scroll signed by residents of New Hanover County with messages to the future.
The Foundation initiated the creation of Wilmington’s National Register District and the local Historic District and played an integral role in establishing the local historic district for Carolina Heights and the National Register Districts of Masonboro Sound, Carolina Place and Carolina Heights.
Because of our long-standing track record and interest in historic preservation, the HWF purchased the St. Andrew’s church and adjacent properties on North Fourth Street. The Foundation acted as interim owner to ensure the buildings’ preservation by placing protective covenants on the property; initiated the fundraising campaign; helped to establish the Friends of St. Andrew’s, a separate non-profit organization to oversee the project, and will play an advisory role on the rehabilitation project. The rehabilitation of St. Andrew’s as a community arts center will save this historically significant structure, will provide programs and services for the community, and will support the economic revitalization of the neighborhood. As a sign of our suppprt of this project we moved our offices to the St. Andrew's Manse building in 2005.
The Historic Wilmington Foundation is a non-profit membership organization. We receive no federal or state funding and rely solely on the generosity of our supporters to accomplish our mission. Our funding sources include membership dues, corporate and private gifts, foundation grants and moneys collected from fundraising events.