WILMINGTON — It’s been a hard-hitting two years in Wilmington for local tourist attractions and museums, such as the Bellamy Mansion. Before the pandemic shuttered most spaces in 2020, Hurricane Florence hit in 2018. For Bellamy, it equated vast damage and loss in revenue from closing for one week. With the help of the Emergency Supplemental Historic Preservation Funds Grant, the mansion will receive $219,735.
“We had damage in excess of $30,000 and lost revenue of another $25,000,” Bellamy’s executive director Gareth Evans said. “It didn’t rise to our deductible, so essentially we weren’t covered.”
According to Reid Wilson, secretary of N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, the funds “help local governments and nonprofit organizations better prepare for future disasters [and] . . . ensure our state’s treasured cultural resources are included in future resiliency planning efforts.”
The ESHPF grant was awarded to 22 historic properties across 18 counties. Cumulatively, $9 million was given in federal grant funding as part of the National Park Service Program and administered locally by the North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office.
The money is allotted as part of 2018 hurricane recovery from Florence and/or Michael, and attractions must be on the National Register of Historic Places to qualify. It covers historic property needs for which other resources, such as FEMA or insurance, don’t reimburse.
Located at 503 Market Street, the 10,000-sqaure-foot Bellamy Mansion was designed by architect James F. Post for Dr. John D. Bellamy. The mansion features 22 rooms and was constructed over three years, 1859-1861, by enslaved workers and local, free black artisans.
“The Bellamy Mansion has made it through a civil war, arson and over 50 named storms,” Gareth Evans, Bellamy Mansion Museum executive director, said. “Funding like this will enable us to complete the necessary repairs to help it survive whatever challenges lay ahead.”
A category 2 storm, Hurricane Florence dumped 30 inches of water from Sept. 12-15, 2018 across New Hanover County. The storm’s winds peeled away portions of Bellamy’s newly repaired roof. Rain poured down all five levels of the mansion, and pooled on the carpets and wooden floors. The walls retained water and softened the plaster, which also cracked from the lathe structure swelling and shifting.
“The roof, chimneys, attic space, plasterwork, column, shutters and brick still all need help,” Evans said, “but there are longer term elements this grant will address . . . specifically, on the roof system, brick foundations, shutters and exterior areas.”
After Florence, Bellamy volunteer efforts and skills from local restoration experts helped with repairs.
The museum closed for a week post Florence and lost revenue in admission fees and event cancellations as well.
Self-guided tours of the Bellamy Mansion Museum, slave quarters and gardens are open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m – 4 p.m., and Sunday, 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.; admission is $7-$14.
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