The National Park Service has awarded the Town of Southern Pines a $75,000 Underrepresented Community Grant. Southern Pines was the only municipality in North Carolina to receive this grant and will use it to help survey and document important historic assets in the West Southern Pines community.
West Southern Pines was one of North Carolina’s first incorporated African American townships and has a rich but widely unrecognized history. Identifying and documenting these historic resources is essential to understanding, illustrating, and honoring our local African American history.
“2023 is the 100th anniversary of the incorporation of West Southern Pines,” said Planning and Development Specialist Rachel Mann, who prepared the successful grant application and will serve as the Town’s project manager. “It feels extremely serendipitous that we were awarded this special at the beginning of 2023. What an amazing way to kick off and celebrate such an important year for the community.”
Southern Pines’ award is part of $1.2 million in Underrepresented Community Grants for 21 projects across the nation. Grant recipients will survey sites and produce National Register of Historic Places nominations in diverse communities throughout America.
“Since 2014, the Underrepresented Community Grants program has provided $5.75 million to better tell the varied histories and stories of all Americans so that they may one day no longer be called underrepresented,” said NPS Director Chuck Sams.
“We are so pleased to receive this grant and look forward to recognizing the important historic asset that West Southern Pines represents,” said Pam Graham, the Town’s Principal Planner. “As an eighteen-year resident of Southern Pines, I learned so much during the application process about this rich part of our history, and I have no doubt it will bring new awareness to other citizens. We are grateful for the opportunity and are excited about next steps.”
The $75,000 grant will pay for consulting services to complete three important tasks:
*Create an architectural survey of West Southern Pines;
*Prepare nominations for the National Register of Historic Places for these three properties, which have already been vetted by the NC State Historic Preservation Office: Trinity AME Zion Church; Amos Broadway Theater and Beer Garden; and Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church site;
*Complete up to six applications for the North Carolina Study List for sites previously unstudied within the West Southern Pines community.
“We’re so grateful that such a grant exists, and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect since our church building has just reached its 100-year mark,” said Rev. Dr. Paul Murphy, pastor of Trinity AME Zion Church and Southern Pines Mayor Pro-Tem.
Tony Fairley, owner of the Amos Broadway Theater and Beer Garden, said, “A lot of people don’t know the history of this building — they don’t know it used to be a beer garden and theater. To bring awareness and to shed light on the original purpose and history of the building is monumental.”
The town estimates the project will take approximately two years and aims to complete it in fall 2024. More information about the grant and the project itself can be found at the project webpage, https://bit.ly/tosp_ucg
Feature photo: Trinity AME Zion Church.