It takes a village to save our historic community. Here are five tangible ways to join HWF as we preserve and protect the irreplaceable.

1. National Register Historic Districts

Federal and state historic preservation tax credits are proven incentives to preserve the historical and architectural integrity of our region’s National Register Historic Districts while revitalizing neighborhoods. Legislation (HTC-GO) was recently introduced into the House of Representatives that strengthens the federal tax credits. HWF believes in the power of historic tax credits to preserve and protect the irreplaceable. CLICK HERE to read HWF Executive Director Travis Gilbert’s letter to Representative David Rouzer (R-NC 7th District).

CHALLENGE #1: Write to your Congressional delegation in support of HTC-GO.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has made this easy as can be, with a pre-written email form that you can edit in your own words!

To begin, simply click the green button.

Email campaigns are more effective when constituents personalize their letters to representatives. Be sure to add your own flair and thoughts to this note, and sign with your name!

photo credit: 
map of the National Register Historic Districts and local historic districts,
courtesy of the City of Wilmington

2. Maides Cemetery

Our region’s rural cemeteries and burial grounds for traditionally-marginalized people are in danger from development and neglect. Maides Cemetery is one such threatened hallowed ground. This historic African-American cemetery near Wilmington’s Maides Park is on the former peanut farm of James and Matilda Maides. Tradition says burials date back to the 19th century, with many graves unmarked. 

CHALLENGE #2: Participate in a clean-up of Maides Cemetery on Saturday, May 22nd (8:30AM-12:00PM).

Volunteers will be working to clear debris and overgrown brush. Supplies and tools will be provided, but if you would like to bring your own (e.g., work gloves, pruning shears, etc.), feel free!

At 8:30AM, volunteers will meet at Maides Park (1101 Manly Ave, Wilmington, NC 28405). To sign up for this service project, click the green button! Many thanks to Kathy King for helping to coordinate this event. 

photo credit: StarNews

3. Borst Building

Another contributing structure in the Wilmington National Register Historic District is under threat of demolition because of New Hanover County’s proposed public-private partnership called Project Grace.

CHALLENGE #3: Contact the NHC Commissioners, expressing your support for the placement of a preservation easement on the Borst Building. 

We’ve already done the heavy lifting—simply click the green button (above) to pull up a pre-written email draft that you can edit in your own words, already addressed to!

Interested in learning more about HWF’s advocacy regarding Project Grace?

  • CLICK HERE to read “Project Grace Should Preserve Wilmington’s Historic Buildings, Not Demolish,” an op-ed written by Travis Gilbert, Executive Director of HWF, and Gareth Evans, Executive Director of the Bellamy Mansion Museum.
  • CLICK HERE to read the letter written by Executive Director Travis Gilbert, requesting the NHC Commissioners grant HWF a preservation easement on the Borst building.

photo credit: Cape Fear Unearthed

4. Pender County African American Heritage Trail

Pender County is creating a heritage trail that highlights the county’s Black history, including:
Historical information on prominent people or families from Pender County’s Black community
– Recommendations for notable historic sites related to Black history
–  Cemetery and church histories 
– Family histories related to slavery and sharecropping
– Information on civil rights leaders and occurrences 
– Cultural histories, especially related to Gullah Geechee culture
– Archival photographs

CHALLENGE #4: Submit histories, photographs, and sites to be included in the African American Heritage Trail.

Anyone who wishes to contribute relevant information and recommendations is welcomed to contact Pender County Tourism either by email ( or phone (910.259.1278). 

5. NC Gullah Geechee Greenway/Blueway Heritage Trail

The Brunswick County chapter of the NAACP is organizing community support to create a greenway/blueway trail that explores Gullah Geechee history and culture in the Lower Cape Fear. Recently, advocates submitted an application to the National Park Service’s Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance program. 

Who are the Gullah Geechee people? 
The Gullah Geechee people are the descendants of West and Central Africans who were enslaved and bought to the lower Atlantic states of North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, and Georgia to work on the coastal rice, Sea Island cotton, and indigo plantations. Because their enslavement was on isolated coastal plantations, sea, and barrier islands, they were able to retain many of their indigenous African traditions. These traditions are reflected in their foodways, arts and crafts, and spiritual traditions. They also created a new language, Gullah, a creole language spoken nowhere else in the world.

CHALLENGE #5: Submit a letter of support for the Gullah Geechee Greenway/Blueway Heritage Trail.

photo credit: StarNews


In 2019, the Historic Wilmington Foundation donated $10,000 to the North Carolina Coastal Land Trust to stabilize Reaves Chapel, an African Methodist Episcopal Church in Brunswick County, built after the Civil War by freed persons from Cedar Hill Plantation.

HWF is proud to be part of a coalition dedicated to protecting and preserving this irreplaceable piece of history, a site along the proposed NC Gullah Geechee Greenway/Blueway Heritage Trail.

photo credit: Coastal Land Trust