Before joining Historic Beaufort Foundation, I was the executive director of the Blue Grass Trust for Historic Preservation in Lexington, Ky., and during my tenure there I was able to participate in two of the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Preservation Leadership Training events.
In 2009, 35 of us spent a week in Birmingham, Ala., evaluating and studying the Prince Hall Grand Lodge, a masonic temple in the heart of the 4th Avenue Historic District. The building was a challenge, in scope and use, but the group endeavored to produce proposals for a building that played its own role within the civil rights movement.
In 2010, I attended the Preservation Leadership Training-Advanced in Cincinnati, where we focused on the long-neglected Over the Rhine neighborhood. We applied lessons learned about rehabilitation tax credits, intervention strategies, local government incentives and others to four diverse, threatened properties.
These are energizing and intensive sessions; participants work hard and learn much from preservation leaders from across the country. And as importantly, relationships and networks are built that are invaluable resources as we pursue the preservation mission. It was on the basis of these experiences that we applied to bring Preservation Leadership Training to Beaufort.
From June 3 through June 8, Historic Beaufort Foundation hosted Preservation Leadership Training. Participants from as far away as Juneau, Alaska, and Calgary and as close as Beaufort spent those five days studying and evaluating the 1400 block of Duke Street, 702 Bladen St. and 509 Carteret St.
What participants learned was exciting, but realistic. Using the skills they learned in classroom training sessions and from their own experiences, the participants developed projects that are feasible in Beaufort's economy.
The specifics of each proposal are indeed interesting, but what is most important is how Beaufort's residents responded.
Participant Brent Runyon, who is the executive director of Thomasville Landmarks in Thomasville, Ga., said, "The support provided by people in Beaufort, from the mayor to neighborhood residents, demonstrates what an interest everyone has in making your city a great place to live."
Josh Rogers, executive director of Historic Macon Foundation, said, "Beaufort is one of those great places in America where you don't have to do much to describe the value of preservation; a quick stroll through town is enough to turn anyone into a preservationist. And a quick walk was about all those of us who attended PLT got. Most of our days and nights were spent working in small groups to solve some of Beaufort's most difficult preservation challenges. I came home with a few new preservation tools that I can use to save buildings here in Macon, especially learning how to measure and describe neighborhood demographics to identify the market for historic buildings. ... Beaufort is important to all of us: my experience reminded me what it was like to fall in love with an old building for the first time, and how important it is to save buildings so that people in the future can have that experience."
Please remember that Historic Beaufort Foundation is a membership organization, and memberships are critical to helping continuing our work. If you're interested in becoming a member or would like to renew, please call 843-379-3331 or go to www.historicbeaufort.org.