WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — This former Wilmington mayor and business veteran believes in his city. Harper Peterson is part of this week’s Building History.

“Wilmington is one of the oldest cities in the United States,” Peterson said. “It’s got a great history dating back to the 1600s.”

Harper and his wife fell in love with Wilmington and saw a lot of potential here.

“We’ve lived downtown for over 30 years,” Peterson said. “Our businesses – Island Passage, Water Street Restaurant, City Market, Jacoby Warehouse and Blue Post – we’re downtowners.”

Urban renewal cost a lot of cities their foundation. Harper respects those who saved Wilmington from the wrecking ball.

“Back in the late ’60s, early ’70s banks were giving you money to tear buildings down and redevelop. There were a few, like Thomas Wright Jr. and others, who had the foresight to buy those buildings up and turn them back to people who wanted to come in and redevelop,” Peterson said.

Wilmington with its old buildings, cobblestones and horse carriages takes you back to another era. The building housing Mixto has a history in that era.

“This is s special building for us,” Peterson said. “It’s the oldest commercial building downtown (built in) 1835.”

Like all downtown buildings, this one has changed with history.

“(It was) a peanut warehouse. It was a slave warehouse before the (Civil) War. Post war it became part of the maritime commerce up and down the river,” Peterson said.

This building didn’t start out on Water Street, it started on the water.

“The riverfront was behind us, and they kept extending the river front out. Ballast stones support the building we’re in right now. This is an extension back in the late 20th century,” Peterson said.

Peterson is a partner or principal in several businesses, and he believes Wilmington’s history is the key to its business future.

If you know of a building with a good story to tell, please let Chris Phillips know at

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