Historic Wilmington Foundation celebrating 54 years of preserving buildings in the Cape Fear

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — While a number of things are on hold due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the Historic Wilmington Foundation is staying busy in a number of ways as it celebrates National Preservation Month.

Since its founding in 1966, the nonprofit has helped restored nearly 300 buildings, mostly in the historic downtown Wilmington area.

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“National Preservation Month is a way to celebrate the social, economic and cultural benefit of historic preservation,” said Beth Rutledge, executive director of the Historic Wilmington Foundation (HWF). “It has special meaning because we have such a rich-built history here.”

The nonprofit’s mission is to preserve and protect the irreplaceable resources of historic Wilmington and the Lower Cape Fear. In addition to saving structures in New Hanover County, they have also helped with preservation efforts in Pender and Brunswick counties.

“It’s about taking care of the built history around us so that others can enjoy it as well,” Rutledge said.

If you’re social distancing at home now due to the pandemic, there are ways you can celebrate National Preservation Month.

All of the black or dark-red plaques at the entrances to old homes and buildings in downtown Wilmington which explain the significance of the structure are provided by the HWF.

“People get those by doing research on their homes and submitting it to the HWF committee,” Rutledge said.

With people spending more time at home, she says this is an ideal time to do the research required for your home or building to see if it qualifies for HWF distinction.

Another thing you can do is check out Legacy Architectural Salvage which has a collection of old windows, doors and other salvaged building materials. It reopens Friday with limited hours and appointment-only hours.

If you want to see some of the buildings in which the HWF has preserved during its 54-year history, check out their website and specifically the section entitled — ‘Oh The Places We’ve Saved.’

“You can see the work that WHF has done, just all of the beautiful places that are really such an inherent part of what makes our community unique and special,” Rutledge added.