Historic preservation's future may lie in recent past, speaker says
By Mark Wineka
The future of preservation may lie in the recent past.
Benjamin Briggs, executive director of Preservation Greensboro Inc., predicted Thursday night that the challenge for preservationists may be in saving the good, contemporary architecture that has yet to benefit from anyone’s feelings of nostalgia.
The appreciation of modern architecture has started to grow and it has presence in communities such as Greensboro and Salisbury through their post-war, 20th Century homes, commercial buildings and industrial structures.
While these buildings might seem tired and far removed from history now, “what’s out of vogue today will someday be precious,” Briggs said, recalling all the Victorian homes once destroyed out of the same kinds of sentiment.
Briggs also suggested that future preservation will be closely tied to the concepts of sustainability and LEED-certified building practices. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.
Borrowing from the words of Washington, D.C., architect Carl Elefante, Briggs said the greenest building is the one already built. He predicted that renovation, not new construction, will fuel growth over the next 20 years as more people discover that preservation is “the ultimate recycling.”
“And it is sustainable,” Briggs stressed.
Briggs spoke to the 37th annual meeting of Historic Salisbury Foundation Thursday night at the foundation-owned Salisbury Station.
Preservation for many will become issues of tax credits on one side and green initiatives on the other, Briggs said, and it also will involve the conservation of whole communities.
Preservationists will have to customize their efforts for each neighborhood and realize that one size doesn’t fit all any longer, he said.
Briggs urged his audience to identify the values that make Salisbury special and preserve them.
On the business side of Thursday night’s meeting, Managing Director Jack Thomson reviewed the year’s highlights, which included the 36th Annual OctoberTour, the foundation’s flagship event.
Other things of note in the past year included the 24th Annual Preservation Awards, the 100th anniversary of Salisbury Station, a Victorian Christmas at the Hall House museum, the 20th anniversary of the Andrew Jackson Society, a presentation of the Clement Cup to Mr. and Mrs. Bill Stanback and the second year of the history class sponsored with Rowan Museum Inc.
Treasurer Ed Clement said the past year was challenging for non-profit groups and for-profit entities alike.
“Historic Salisbury Foundation has a strong balance sheet … meaning it has a lot of assets,” Clement said.
Those multi-million-dollar assets include the Salisbury Station, Grimes Mill, Hall House and several properties in the foundation’s revolving fund.
“The assets are great; the income is not as great,” Clement told the gathering.
The foundation depends on membership and events to supply its revenues. It operated this past year on a $291,000 budget.
The foundation membership approved Pam Hylton Coffield and Susan Goodman Sides as new trustees. They will take the place of the retiring Pat McGuire and Karen Alexander and serve three-year terms.
Gwen Matthews serves as director of historic properties, the real estate arm of the foundation.
The foundation’s historic properties for sale include the Stokes-Snider House, circa 1919, at 324 N. Fulton St.; the Blackmer-Woodson House, circa 1880s, at 317 N. Fulton St.; the Payne-Rice House, circa 1878, at 428 N. Ellis St.; and the Thomas Conrad House, circa 1920s, at 711 N. Fulton St.
All properties sold through the foundation are subject to protective covenants and a rehabilitation agreement if needed.