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Museum renews preservation award for city lacking ‘good track record’ on historic sites

Five 19th century houses that are historic Charlotte landmarks

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission has designated many houses as historic landmarks. Here are five.
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Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission has designated many houses as historic landmarks. Here are five.

After a four-year hiatus, the Charlotte Museum of History will again recognize recently restored historic residences and businesses with its Historic Preservation Awards.

Adria Focht, president and CEO of The Charlotte Museum of History, said she hopes the awards will encourage people to preserve other historic buildings.

She said Charlotte does not have “a good track record” when it comes to preserving historic structures. Last week, the Excelsior club, a historic landmark for Charlotte’s black community apparently avoided potential demolition after a buyer from California made an offer for an undisclosed price.

Focht said the awards will highlight historic structures that add value to local communities, although the awards do not come with a cash prize.

“People tend to think all of Charlotte’s historic buildings are gone when they look at the historic markers around town,” she said. “That’s not true.”

Reviving the awards

The awards were last given out in 2015 before the nonprofit Historic Charlotte, which originally gave them out, merged with the museum. Now that the museum has more employees and volunteers, Focht said it was able to bring the awards back.

Five awards will be given, with two going to the best restored residential and commercial buildings and two given to new buildings, both commercial and residential, that seamlessly fit in with a historic area.

The last award will go to a group such as a local government, neighborhood association or club that preserves the culture of its community.

Historically black landmarks have disappeared in Charlotte. Most of them were removed during Urban Renewal. There are few that still remain.

Past projects

With the future of the Excelsior still uncertain despite it being under contract, preserving historic structures is a point of focus for many in the city.

The club was designated in April as one of the 11 most endangered historic places in the country by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

As for the revived museum awards, winning projects will be revealed at a ceremony on Aug. 22 at the museum.

Past winners of the awards include the Thomas-Funderburk House in Matthews, which was built in the 1880’s, Johnson C. Smith University’s Carnegie Hall — previously called Carnegie Library — which was built in 1912, and the historic Charlotte City Hall built in 1924.

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