Historic Wilmington Foundation

Who We Are

In 1966, a small group of citizens determined to save local built history united to form the Historic Wilmington Foundation (HWF). 

Today we are a member-supported 501(c)(3) historic preservation nonprofit with a mission to preserve and protect the irreplaceable in New Hanover, Pender, and Brunswick counties.

What We Do

For over 50 years, HWF has preserved our region’s built history utilizing a revolving fund, preservation easements, education, and advocacy. HWF has one of the most prolific local plaque programs in the country, featuring six distinctive plaques to honor a variety of historic places. In the last three years, HWF has used its revolving fund for the relocation of 310 Bladen (a 1890s bungalow set for demolition) and the restoration of Reaves Chapel, a local landmark to Gullah-Geechee heritage and culture. Other programs include Tar Heels Go Walking (an educational tour for every 3rd grader in New Hanover County), free walking tours, and Legacy Architectural Salvage, a source for affordably priced pre-1960s wood, doors, windows, siding, and other building materials that match the historic fabric of our area’s old structures. HWF ensures that historic buildings stand for generations to come through historic preservation easements, which permanently protect buildings from demolition. HWF’s Preservation Equity Fund helps to save homes on the City of Wilmington’s Demolition by Neglect list; this program serves our neighbors who are most in need—saving not just their home, but our community’s collective history. In 2021, HWF committed itself to finding a solution for perpetual care of Maides Cemetery, a historic African-American cemetery (located in New Hanover County) with graves dating back to the 19th century. Currently, HWF is assisting Giblem Lodge—the second-oldest Black Masonic Temple in the state—to prepare a local landmark application, engage consultants, and apply for grant funding to support dire repairs. HWF has also partnered with Cape Fear Community College to create a historic preservation construction certification. Training more contractors to properly restore old buildings ensures a strong future for our historic homes and businesses—and strengthens our local job market.

For more information on the places HWF has saved, visit click here.

Our Mission

To preserve and protect the irreplaceable historic resources of Wilmington and the Lower Cape Fear Region. 

Our Vision

A historic landscape that is inclusive, resilient, affordable, and accessible.

Our Values

  • ADVOCACY– HWF advocates for policies and practices that promote historic preservation at a local, state, and federal levels.

  • SUSTAINABILITY – HWF recognizes that historic preservation is an act of sustaining the earth’s non-renewable resources.

  • STEWARDSHIP – HWF provides adequate care to our region’s historic resources and architectural materials.

  • COLLABORATION – HWF seeks to excite and energize a broad network of preservation supporters and engages like minded organizations.

  • LEADERSHIP – HWF is viewed by citizens and elected officials in New Hanover, Brunswick, and Pender Counties as the leader in preservation policy and practices.

  • EQUITY – HWF prioritizes projects that preserve and protect our community’s diverse and inclusive history.

  • EDUCATION – HWF provides equitable access to information about our region’s built history and responsible preservation practices.

  • RESPECT – HWF respects the diversity of historical experiences within our community and strives to provide voice to those narratives.

Watch Us in Action!

To learn more about what we do, watch “For a Future that Respects the Past,” created for our 2020 Annual Fundraising e-Luncheon. And below, you’ll find the video from our 2020 Annual Meeting. 

Please note that, since these videos were released, Beth Rutledge has stepped down as Executive Director. Our present Executive Director is Travis Gilbert, former Board member and tour guide—who is also featured in “For a Future that Respects the Past”!