Historic foundation welcomes new director
By Hugh Fisher
SALISBURY — Cynthia Jenkins, new director of the Historic Salisbury Foundation, was welcomed with a reception at the Hall House on Sunday.
Jenkins took over the job March 1.
Members of the foundation gathered to greet her and share their ideas and concerns over refreshments at one of the city’s best-preserved landmarks.
The foundation faces challenges, but there are also a lot of opportunities to continue preserving Salisbury’s history, Jenkins said.
“As we move forward, there are so many things yet to do,” Jenkins said.
Not only will the foundation work to preserve landmarks, but much remains to be learned and celebrated about the lives and times of historic people and places.
“There’s a lot of research yet to be done, a lot of details to tie together,” Jenkins said.
Most recently, Jenkins taught in the graduate program in historic preservation at Clemson and the College of Charleston.
She has served as the executive director of the Preservation Society of Charleston, S.C. and the Historic Beaufort Foundation.
Jenkins was selected as part of a nationwide search.
Staff members said she will bring a lot of experience to bear to help the foundation accomplish its mission of education and preservation.
“She brings in a wealth of information for us, both from working on the grant side and in the trenches,” said Gwen Matthews, director of historic properties.
“As a staff member, I appreciate that if we have a problem, she has an answer or knows where to go.”
Christine Wilson, events coordinator, said she looked forward to seeing how Jenkins would grow and promote events like the OctoberTour.
“The Preservation Society of Charleston also runs a house tour,” Wilson said.
“It will be good to have her experience and perspective, to help us grow that event.”
Members of the foundation said they were glad to see a bona fide preservationist take on the role.
William James, who owns a home on Fulton Street with wife, Mary, said his own experience as a member of a historic foundation’s board told him that Jenkins was a good pick for the job.
“Honestly, I think that in this day and age of tight budgets, you need someone who understand the professional world of preservation, who can move the agenda forward,” William James said.
“I think she’s going to bring enormous knowledge, savvy, experience and contacts,” Mary James said.
“I think we feel gratified to have found someone like Cynthia, who is really known in the historic preservation community.”
Jenkins said there are several challenges she hopes to see the foundation respond to.
The future of the Empire Hotel on South Main Street, for example, needs attention because it helps maintain the character of downtown, Jenkins said.
That unique character also needs to be maintained as new buildings go up downtown, she said.
“We need to make sure that what goes in is respectful of the scale of its neighbors,” Jenkins said.
“It’s not just worrying about preservation of the historic. It’s about making sure that the character of the city carries forward into the next generation.”
Outgoing foundation board President Sarah Kellogg agreed.
“I think she is going to set an example for us that historic preservation is not history. It is the future,” Kellogg said.
Jenkins said that nonprofit agencies help expose children to history.
And that could be vital, she said, in this age of budget cuts in education.
But history is, and should remain, important to people of all ages.
“You can’t really enjoy your present or future until you know your past,” Jenkins said.
Contact Hugh Fisher via the editor’s desk at 704-797-4244.