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Building History: Bellamy Slave Quarters

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- We've already shown you the beautiful Bellamy Mansion. It is a work of art and a tribute to those who lived in the grand style.

There is another story of those who lived then, alongside but not equal. Those who worked and served.

We feature the re building of the Bellamy slave quarters in this week's Building History.

“The idea is to take it back to how it would have been in 1859. We want to give people the idea of how urban slaves lived on this site, and let them come in and feel the heat, feel the cold, the discomfort. Put you back in time.” Bellamy Executive Director Gareth Evans said.

This isn't the kind of job that starts at you neighborhood hardware store and the people who do this specialized work are also hard to find.

“There are only a few who do this sort of thing and they are highly skilled, they don't do new construction they specialize in how to fix old bricks, old windows that sort of thing.” Evans explained.

With any construction, there is the tear out phase and some surprises.

“We took out a lot of the old stuff that had been termite damaged and we found really od wood, heart pine we found the old brick, the 1859 plaster work we found a chimney half,” Evans told us.” They don't build it like that anymore, they build it sort of stepped out from the wall, self-supporting. Lots of stuff you just don't see anywhere in America anymore.”

So, you have your project, your plans, you get materials, craftsmen, what’s missing?

“Money, it is a big issue of course so we had to raise the money to do this and a federal grant on top of that but really it's a matter of time and care because everything is soft and delicately put together and it was in rough shape because it was empty for almost 150 years.” Evans said.

The work is underway and Gareth is a manager on a mission, he already has a grand re-opening planned.

“October 13, a Sunday afternoon, we're going to have a nice opening event, a gathering of community leaders and everyone and enjoy the place, see the preservation work that we have done. Experience what this would have been like.”
The Bellamy slave quarters will be on tour along with the mansion after the grand opening.

If you have a building with a great story to tell, please let me know at cphillips@wwaytv3.com.

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