State Historic Preservation Office Begins Vance County Comprehensive Architectural Survey


Vance County has been chosen as the subject of a comprehensive survey of historic buildings and landscapes planned from 2021-23. Funding for this architectural survey comes from the Emergency Supplemental Historic Preservation Fund (ESHPF), administered by the National Park Service, for hurricanes Florence and Michael. Because the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) declared a major disaster in Vance County following both storms, the county is an eligible location for planning projects intended to document degree of damage from past storms as well as provide preparedness for future disasters.

As national emergencies arise, Congress may appropriate funding from the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF) to provide relief for historic preservation projects in areas impacted by natural disasters. The HPF uses revenue from federal oil and gas leases on the Outer Continental Shelf to assist a broad range of preservation projects without expending tax dollars. In 2018, hurricanes Florence and Michael, as well as Typhoon Yutu, caused extensive damage to communities in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, the Northern Mariana Islands, South Carolina, and Virginia. Congress subsequently passed Public Law 116-20 to provide ESHPF assistance to these six states and one territory related to damages from these storms.

North Carolina has chosen to allocate funding to support the survey of historic resources to determine the overall degree of damage, as well as provide data for resiliency planning for our state’s treasured cultural resources. Vance County was selected from among other eligible counties because the State Historic Preservation Office (HPO) has not previously conducted a comprehensive architectural survey of the county. The 2021-2023 architectural survey will intensively document historic buildings and landscapes from the early 19th century through the 1970s, including those in Henderson and rural areas. Data gathered during the survey will assist Vance County in planning for the preservation of its historic resources.

The State of North Carolina has hired hmwPreservation, a Durham, N.C.-based cultural resources consulting firm, to complete the project. Heather Slane and Cheri Szcodronski will serve as Principal Investigators. Preliminary fieldwork will start in mid-August. A survey of rural Vance County will occur in late fall 2021 into early 2022. A survey of the town of Henderson is anticipated to occur in late 2022 and early 2023. The project will conclude no later than September 2023.

An architectural survey entails documentation of buildings and landscapes that are at least 50 years old. Fieldworkers take photographs, draw site plans, and collect oral history from people they meet on site. They conduct a limited amount of archival research to establish countywide patterns of historical development. hmwPreservation will also identify properties that appear to be potentially eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, either individually or as historic districts. National Register properties are potentially eligible for state and federal tax credits for certified historic rehabilitation. The Vance County Comprehensive Architectural Survey will culminate in a final report that analyzes the history of the county through the lens of its historic architecture.

At the conclusion of the survey, the HPO will share the final report and geospatial data collected during fieldwork with the National Park Service and will retain all materials from the survey as part of the statewide architectural record. Public access to the information will be available through HPOWEB, the HPO’s geographic information system, which is accessible online at The survey material will facilitate the environmental review necessary for state and federal undertakings and will aid in planning for future economic and community development projects. Survey products also will be useful for the continued development of heritage tourism programs in Vance County.

For more information on the Vance County Comprehensive Architectural Survey, contact Elizabeth C. King, Architectural Survey Coordinator for the North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office, at or 919-814-6580, or Heather Slane of hmwPreservation, at

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