May is National Preservation Month!

Preservation month is a nationally recognized event, sponsored annually with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, honoring and promoting historic preservation across the country.  Each year since 1971, the Historic Wilmington Foundation has partnered with the National Trust to celebrate the local people and activities that make preservation a reality in Wilmington and the Lower Cape Fear region.  As part of National Preservation Month, the Foundation hosts events ranging from architectural and historic tours, award ceremonies, and fundraising events to educational programs and the yearly release of the Most Threatened Historic Places of the Cape Fear region. The month-long event promotes Wilmington’s historic resources and preservation successes as well as showcasing the social and economic benefits of historic preservation.  Please check back as we approach May 2018 and join us as we celebrate the unique heritage of our region!

Each year, Historic Wilmington Foundation presents awards to those in our community who represent excellence in preservation.  We are now taking nominations for 2018’s Awards Ceremony.  To nominate a person or project, please download, complete and submit the nomination form:  2018 PreservationAwardsForm.

Congratulations to all our 2017 Preservation Award Winners

James Goodnight for the Rehabilitation of Todd’s Building, 21 S. Front Street.

Gwen Clemmons Causey was granted a Lifetime of Leadership award in recognition of her genealogical work in Brunswick County, compiling more than 48,000 names from obituaries as well as serving history and preservation organizations across the county.
AMEZ housing Community Development Corporation and their Executive Director, Toronya Ezell, an award of Merit for Compatible Infill and Community Leadership for constructing a new affordable house at 905 Grace Street. This is their sixth compatible infill house in the city.

Greg and Kimberley Thompson for Compatible New Construction, 109 S. 5th S. Avenue.

Marc and Christina Erichsen for Compatible New Construction, 1605 Ann Street.

DeLinda Harrelson, of Home Solutions Group, Inc, for the Rehabilitation of 1912 Church Street.

Kristen and Dean May for the Rehabilitation of the Fishblate House, 318 S. Front Street.

Joshua and Adrienne Hodges, of Nora Alan Group, for the Rehabilitation of the Bowdoin Moore House, 617 Red Cross Street.

Joshua and Adriennne Hodges, of Nora Alan Group, for the Rehabilitation of the Robert Christie House, 1511 Rankin Street.

David Nathans for the Rehabilitation of the Brooklyn Arts Center Phase 2, 516 N. 4th Street.

Linda Look and Wade Hughes for the Rehabilitation of the L. Shrier Lyceum, 216 N. Front Street.

Beth and Lee Williams for the Rehabilitation and Preservation of the Alderman Emerson Cottage, 426 S. Lumina Avenue, Wrightsville Beach.

Harry Tuchmayer and New Hanover Downtown Public Library was granted an award of Merit for the library’s Story Park, 201 Chestnut Street.

Click HERE to view more pictures from our Preservation Awards Night Ceremony.

Thank you to our Preservation Month Sponsors!


Most Threatened Historic Places List

To nominate a threatened historic building or site for 2018’s Most Threatened Historic Places List, please download, complete and submit the nomination form: MTHP 2018 Nomination Form.

The Most Threatened Historic Places Exhibit will travel throughout New Hanover, Brunswick and Pender Counties.  MTHPTraveling Exhibit Schedule 2017

Most Threatened Historic Places List for 2017

John N Smith Cemetery
225 E Leonard Street, Southport, NC

The John N Smith Cemetery in Southport, is the only cemetery which interred African-Americans in Brunswick County. There is an urgent need to construct a fence around the property, restore grave markers, complete a ground penetrating radar study to identify the location of unmarked graves and place identifying markers so that new interments do not compromise existing burials.                    New Nomination -2017 MOST THREATENED


Rocky Point School Buildings
13991 Hwy 110, Rocky Point, NC

The first of these two school buildings is a one-story brick structure designed by Leslie N. Boney in 1925, it was originally the Rocky Point Elementary school for white students. The second was built in 1917 when local African American families organized and raised funds in order to get a grant from the Rosenwald Fund. With the grant they constructed the first building of the nearby Pender County Training School campus in 1917. These properties are historic examples of the concern for education in Pender County in the early twentieth century. The buildings are threatened by their poor physical condition and neglect, and they are also listed for sale. Potential redevelopment of this area should include these buildings. They provide a glimpse into the history of the people of this region, and their desire to educate their children.


Historic Wood Windows
Lower Cape Fear Region

A building’s character is often determined by its windows. Frequently, however, historic windows are improperly removed when a structure is repaired or rehabilitated and are then replaced with inappropriate modern windows.  Yet in most cases, wood windows can be repaired and upgraded in an environmentally friendly manner while retaining historic integrity.Well-maintained wood windows will typically outperform new replacement windows.
2016 Threat List-2017 MOST THREATENED List


Fort Caswell Rifle Range
Oak Island, NC

Built in 1918, this 200- foot concrete structure has three compartments: a Store Room Passageway, a Target Pit area, and a rifle range that was abandoned by the United States Army after WW Il. It was used for soldiers in both World Wars, but now the structure is threatened and made unsafe by tree growth and failing concrete walls. A friends group has organized to protect, save and restore this site and it has recently stabilized the site. It seems appropriate to recognize this World War l site as we acknowledge the hundredth anniversary of the United States entrance into the Great War.

After five years of fundraising, trees that were compromising the north wall of the rifle range were removed.   In addition, an engineering study and hydrological study with final reports was completed. The rifle range now has a web site for the nonprofit about the Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range.
2016 Threatened List –Carryover to 2017 MOST THREATENED LIST


Rosenwald Schools
Pender County – First Listed in 2006

Over the last several years’ public awareness of the region’s Rosenwald Schools has grown dramatically because of the hard work of Claudia Stack and other activists.  However, these structures, built as forums for African American education at the beginning of the twentieth-century, continue to be threatened by neglect, deterioration, and expanding development.  Unless dramatic action is taken, these important reminders of our state’s history of segregated and unequal educational opportunities will disappear. The rehabilitation of the Canetuck School into a senior center a few years ago, demonstrated that these sites have potential for new purposes. Hopefully, this example will be repeated.
Listed since 2006 on the Most Threatened List -2017 MOST THREATENED


William Rand Kenan House
110 Nun Street, Wilmington, NC
The Kenan House, built circa 1870, was awarded a plaque by Historic Wilmington Foundation and the Make America Beautiful program. It has been cited for neglect and secured by the City and it appears to be moving to foreclosure. While it is in steep decline, this house can be saved.
New Nomination- 2017 MOST THREATENED



Thematic Listing of Public & Private Family Cemeteries of the Lower Cape Fear Region

Flemington Oak Grove Cemetery 612 Sampson Street Wilmington, NC 28401
Wood Cemetery Markers, Cemeteries Brunswick County
Ferrell Coleman Cemetery
5152 New Britton Loop, Ash, NC 28420
Location: Tri-Counties (Pender, Brunswick, New Hanover)
As writer Ruth Little suggests, an old graveyard or cemetery is an invaluable source of insight and information about the families, traditions, and culture surrounding that community. Slowly, time is erasing these memorials. These historic sites are threatened by neglect, vandalism, and development. As just one example, the Lillington Cemetery in rural Pender County is the burial site for the local Revolutionary War hero, John Lillington. However, the walls and markers of this cemetery are deteriorating and crumbling due to lack of attention and exposure to the elements.
Carryover from 2016 THREATENED PLACES LIST


2017 Historic Wilmington Foundation Watch List

St. Peter and St. Paul Russian Orthodox Church, St. Helena, Pender County, NC – First Listed in 2006
Built to serve a community of Russian Orthodox immigrants in Pender County, this church with its
picturesque golden onion dome has long been threatened by a shrinking congregation. Members of the church are concerned about preserving this community structure into the future. The site was on the 2016 MOST THREATENED List, but a recent listing on the National Register of Historic Places gives the members hope.
Move to the 2017 WATCH List to keep this historic structure in everyone’s awareness.


Historic Downtown Wilmington/ Wilmington National Register District
A proposed new Cape Fear River Crossing bridge located at the existing Cape Fear Memorial Bridge would do irreparable harm to our historic downtown core and the larger Wilmington National Register District. This is the center of our Lower Cape Fear Community and it defines what is unique about the region. Other crossing options are available and a new bridge should not be built at this site. Everyone should take part in the discussions about a new bridge and its location.
New 2017 WATCH List


New Hanover County Library
201 Chestnut Street Wilmington NC, 28401
New Hanover County’s redevelopment study places the downtown library in a precarious spot. The report could suggest that the library be relocated and the site redeveloped. This is a critical community resource that serves all sectors of the county. It provides the county with a landmark main library and an impressive array of services. The building is also a good example of mid-century modern architecture, and a wonderful adaptive reuse. The completion of the new Story Park adds emphasis to its importance to the citizens of the New Hanover County.

If you have a concern about a site please call the Foundation to discuss.

Click MTHP-What-Can-I-DO-2017
 to find out how you can bring attention to, and inspire care for, the threatened places in your community.

MTHP Lists:  2016 2015 2014 – 2013 – 2012 – 2011 – 2010 – 2009 – 2008 – 2007 – 2006

The Most Threatened Historic Places Exhibit debuted twelve years ago at the New Hanover County Library.  It will tour public libraries in New Hanover, Brunswick and Pender Counties. To see the schedule of locations click here.