National Register Historic Districts
Wilmington’s rich history is preserved through eight Historic Districts listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Our city’s National Register Historic Districts are under intense pressures that adversely affect their integrity. Contributing structures—buildings that add to the historic district through their architectural integrity or historical significance—are being demolished. Architectural materials are being replaced with modern, plastic fixings with short lifespans. Natural resources that create the districts’ historic settings are being destroyed. HWF is fighting to protect the irreplaceable historic resources of our city’s National Register Historic Districts.
HWF is currently advocating for a stay-of-demolition (or demolition delay) for properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places within the City of Wilmington. The North Carolina Legislature must pass special legislation allowing the City of Wilmington to regulate the demolition of historic buildings outside locally-designated historic districts and landmarks. Other NC cities with this special legislation include Apex, Cary, Chapel Hill, Wake Forest, and Wilson.
On November 3, 2021, the Wilmington City Council unanimously passed a resolution adding a stay-of-demolition to their legislative agenda. Click here to read Council’s resolution.
Stays of demolition allow preservationists (such as HWF) time to negotiate a sale or relocation of the historic structure. If efforts to preserve the structure in-tact fail, stays of demolition afford time to document the structure and salvage its irreplaceable historic resources.
In a series of three interviews with Port City Daily, HWF Executive Director Travis Gilbert relays the importance of historic districts. Links below!
Wilmington Historic District
Wilmington National Register Historic District
The city’s oldest district–created in 1974 and expanded in 2004–is witnessing an alarming number of contributing structures being destroyed. A study of the district’s northside highlights this trend, with an estimated reduction of over one-third of all contributing structures since 2004. Of the contributing structures that remain in these study areas, six have preservation easements by the HWF, including the Brooklyn Arts Center and Edward Teach Brewery. HWF saved one of the contributing structures, an 1890s bungalow, in 2018, moving it from 310 Bladen Street just a few blocks away to the corner of Swann & North 4th Streets; once set for demolition, soon it will serve the neighborhood as a seafood restaurant! In a stunning transformation, the Richter Building on North 4th Street—a 2020 HWF Preservation Award winner!—was restored thanks to federal tax credits and now houses a film production company.
Early Suburb Neighborhoods
Preserving wooden siding, windows, doors, and other architectural features is core to maintaining a building’s status as a contributing structure to a National Register Historic District. Only individually-listed or contributing structures on the National Register of Historic Places are eligible for North Carolina’s State Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit Program, which offers a 15% tax credit for owner-occupied residential properties. Preservation of contributing, residential properties in Wilmington’s early suburb neighborhoods could provide homeowners a tax credit of up to $22,500!
Masonboro Sound National Register Historic District
HWF is proud of our preservation successes in the Masonboro Sound National Register Historic District, from relocating the Hill-Anderson Cottage (1835) to placing an easement on the Doll House (1924). Together, we protect these irreplaceable historic resources that represent the birth of coastal tourism in North Carolina and preserve the natural resources of this “oasis of extraordinary beauty.”
CLICK HERE to read “Masonboro Sound Historic District: An ‘oasis of extraordinary beauty’ threatened by clear-cutting development,” published on April 25, 2021 by Port City Daily.
Historic District Complaint Form
Do you have a complaint or concern regarding a property in a local historic district or historic overlay district? Fill out the Historic District Complain Form. This form directly notifies the City’s Code Enforcement Department of the issue, and they’ll follow up with you directly.
Note: The Historic Wilmington Foundation is not affiliated with the City of Wilmington and does not regulate local historic districts or historic overlay districts.