A Preservation Milestone for North Carolina

The first board meeting of the N.C. Society for the Preservation of Antiquities. Image from the Office of Archives and History.On December 7, 1939, the North Carolina Society for the Preservation of Antiquities, predecessor to what’s now Preservation North Carolina, met for the first time in the ballroom of the Carolina Hotel in Raleigh.

Colonel Joseph Hyde Pratt, a geologist and veteran of the Thirtieth “Old Hickory” Division that broke the Hindenburg Line during World War I, presided. Janie Gosney was secretary-treasurer. The December general meeting followed an October 20 organizational meeting in the State Capitol.

The inclusion of a broad range of civic-minded citizens from across the state propelled the group. The keynote speaker was Gertrude Carraway of New Bern, who called for the restoration of Tryon Palace.  Others addressed the need for similar work in Bath and for collaborative efforts between historians and archaeologists.

Projects endorsed at that first session included the identification of a plantation house, a covered bridge, a waterwheel mill, and multiple battlefields for restoration projects.

Within two years the organization had chapters in Raleigh, Greensboro, Goldsboro and Asheville. The death of Colonel Pratt in 1942 and the onset of World War II slowed the group’s progress but the sound footing ensured its success.

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