Ten Tours

An intimate tour of Wilmington, led by HWF’s incoming Executive Director Travis Gilbert and other renowned historians.

After months at home, Historic Wilmington Foundation is providing a new (and safer!) way to reconnect with our community: Ten Tours!

UPDATE: Given Wilmington’s summer heat and the new COVID-19 guidelines, we’re pausing our Ten Tours until the fall. We’re looking forward to being able to host larger tour groups soon! Stay tuned for more updates.

Each month on a Sunday afternoon, Ten Tours leads small groups through through specialized tours of our historic downtown, tracing our region’s multi-faceted and diverse storylines through our irreplaceable built history.


Why “Ten Tours”? We want to bring our community together—in a safe and responsible manner. Here’s how:

  1. Tours will be limited to 10 attendees. We appreciate and value the intimacy of a small group; the intimate setting stimulates fascinating conversations and questions!
  2. Even when outside, masks are required at all times for the group’s safety. (Even your tour guide will be wearing one!) 
  3. Social distancing will be practiced during the entirety of each tour.

These special tours are FREE, but donations are cheerfully accepted!


HWF’s Executive Director Travis Gilbert (pictured, left) leads our Ten Tours series, though it is our honor and joy to collaborate with other local organizations and historians to frequently bring in guest guides! Through these partnerships, we are able to engage more deeply with our history and paint a complete picture of where we’ve been—and where we’re going. Each (free!) tour is specialized, and so are our guides! No matter who is leading the way, you’ll be entranced by their knowledge and storytelling. Details about individual tours can be found, below. 


Each month on a Sunday afternoon, your guide will host two Ten Tours:
– First Tour: 2:00PM to ~3:30PM
– Second Tour: 3:30PM to ~5:00PM

Note: In months with guest guides, we often only offer one tour (2:00-3:30PM). 


Prior to embarking on the afternoon’s historic journey, attendees will gather at HWF’s headquarters (211 Orange Street, Wilmington, NC).


These walking tours will take you past historic places of note.

We will not be going inside any of the featured structures.

Upcoming Tours

Sunday, May 30, 2021: Adaptive Reuse: Salvaging History & Saving Environment

As the final event of Preservation Month, guest guide Andy McGlinn, chair of Cape Fear Sierra Club, will lead a tour focusing on adaptive reuse and exploring the connection between preserving our irreplaceable built history and natural world. Giving new purpose to underutilized or deteriorating buildings, adaptive reuse has numerous benefits for our economy, environment, and culture. Circumventing both demolition and construction, adaptive reuse can reduce urban sprawl by repurposing existing buildings within the city—and it’s often cheaper than making an entirely new building. Perhaps most importantly, adaptive reuse restores a building’s heritage features for future generations.
On this tour, Andy McGlinn will highlight examples of adaptive reuse right here in Wilmington, including St. Thomas Church, Burgwin-Wright House, and Edward Teach! One notable and timely stop is the New Hanover County library, formerly the Belk-Beery department store—currently under threat of demolition as Project Grace plans move forward. To learn more about Historic Wilmington Foundation’s advocacy to preserve and protect the historic built resources on this city block, visit our Current Issues page.


To sign up for an upcoming tour, CLICK HERE to RSVP!

Remember, these are tiny, exclusive tours—only 10 spots available! Claim yours today!

If you have difficulties, please contact Isabelle Shepherd at shepherd@historicwilmington.org.


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Past Tours

Sunday, April 18, 2021: Memorialization in Wilmington

War memorials hold a prominent role in the landscape of downtown Wilmington. In honor of Memorial Day, this walking tour will explore the memorialization of Wilmington’s veterans from the Revolutionary War through the World Wars. The tour will discuss details about the memorial’s creation, a critique of their artwork, and the memorial’s evolving interpretation through time. Particular attention will be placed on the modern relocation of the WWI monument and Confederate monuments. Reserve your spot now!

Sunday, March 21, 2021: Women’s History Month

Led by local (and legendary!) historian and Plaque Committee Chair Beverly Tetterton, this timely tour will honor and celebrate the contributions of women in the Cape Fear region. The former special collections librarian and chief of the New Hanover County Library’s North Carolina Room, Beverly has also served on Wilmington’s Historic District Commission for a decade and authored Wilmington: Lost But Not Forgotten. In 2020, she was presented with the StarNews Media Lifetime Achievement Award. She and Dan Camacho created Wilmington History, a historic walking tour app. NOTE: Only one tour is offered on this date (2:00pm-3:30pm). 

Sunday, February 7, 2021: Black History in Wilmington

Islah Speller, founder of the Burnett-Eaton Museum Foundation and Journey Wilmington’s African American History Tour Guide, will lead February’s tour, in honor of Black History Month! Known as the “Sugar Hill Tour,” this route will include sites such as St. Stephens AME Church and the Telfair House. To read more about Speller’s local tours, click here: Heritage Tour Explores Wilmington’s Rich African American History (StarNews)

Sunday, January 3, 2021: Places of Worship

Wilmington’s thriving port delivered unparalleled religious diversity to the hills overlooking the Cape Fear River. The Port City’s skyline is dotted with steeples, testifying to the breadth of religious activity in Wilmington and chronicling the city’s religious history. Famed architects and local contractors partnered to construct Wilmington’s places of worship. This walking tour will explore Wilmington’s rich religious history, including the Anglicans’ role in the founding of Wilmington, the 19th century evangelicalism of Wilmington, and the religious experience of minority groups, such as African-Americans and the city’s Jewish heritage. 

Sunday, November 1, 2020: Architects of Wilmington: Henry Bonitz (1872 – 1921)

Henry E. Bonitz was the son of German immigrants who ushered Wilmington’s architecture into the 20th century. With a degree from present-day North Carolina State University and the tutoring of Wilmington’s architect-builder James F. Post, Henry Bonitz forever altered the cityscape of Wilmington, from the city’s commercial heart to the quiet residential districts. Stylistically, one can trace Bontiz’s career by following the city’s pilasters and Romanesque windows. When Wilmington’s reach stretched towards the beach, Bonitz followed, by designing pavilions at Wrightsville and Carolina Beaches. This walking tour will explore Wilmington at the turn of the 20th century through the life and works of Henry Bonitz. (Fun fact: In 2019, HWF awarded Ben & Christine Cochran and The Renovation Co. a Preservation Award for the restoration of the Bonitz Building at 213 Princess Street!)

Sunday, October 4, 2020: Architects of Wilmington: James F. Post (1818 – 1899)

Shortly after Wilmington became North Carolina’s largest city, James Francis Post arrived on the shores of the Cape Fear River. For the next fifty years, Post defined Wilmington’s cityscape as we know today, from the Bellamy Mansion to the New Hanover County Courthouse. Together, Post and Wilmington nurtured one another: the city providing the opportunities and the architect-builder providing the vision. Post’s career exemplifies life in 19th century Wilmington, from his employment of enslaved and free black laborers, contracts with the railroads, and service in the Confederate military. His career is chronicled by the ledger books preserved by the Lower Cape Fear Historical Society. This walking tour will explore 19th century Wilmington through the life and works of James F. Post.