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Historic Woodville

Preserving Woodville's Heritage

Letter to Friends of Historic Woodville

January 12, 1998

To All Historic Woodville/St. Frances Friends & Relatives:

As the New Year begins, we'd like to update you on our astonishing 1997 progress. Our gains were made possible only by your gifts supporting "Historic Woodville's" mission to preserve history by l) restoring St. Frances Methodist Church, moving it to its original Woodville location, and adapting it as Woodville's Heritage Center and 2) nominating Woodville to the National Register of Historic Places.

First, in November, National Register consultants Ruth Little, Ph.D. and Pat Dickinson, M.A. began a comprehensive study for the nomination of Woodville's listing as a "rural historic district". Ruth has completed her part, the architectural study and Pat will finish the cultural/social history of Woodville in the next two months. They will present the study to the NC Department of Archives and History in April. After that approval, they will then present it to the National Register, a division of the Department of the Interior in Washington. Since both Ruth and Pat have a 100% track record for nomination acceptances, by June we will be on the map and have all the tax advantages and protections afforded structures within a historic district.

Second, we have submitted another grant to the state for $95,500 to cover the expenses of restoring and moving St. Frances Church to its original cemetery site-within the newly National Register designated rural historic district, re-erecting it, installing HVAC, new wiring, and a security system. This grant will need to be approved by the Department of Cultural Resources (of which Archives and History is a division), and then approved by the legislature. So I am now honing my virtually nonexistent politicking skills. If any of you know any important contacts either in Cultural Resources or the state legislature please let me know immediately, as legislative committees are meeting in January/February to decide the merits of each grant proposal. Recipients will be notified in March. If we are awarded the funds to move the church, we will move it within the next 18 months, and then begin adapting it to a Woodville/St. Frances heritage center.

Third, "Historic Woodville" is now an official tax-exempt charitable organization ensuring that any donations are a Schedule "A" tax deduction. We have hired an attorney and an accountant to guide us through the maze of regulations governing nonprofit organizations. As of now, we have been advised (since we want to keep things at their simplest level) that we do not need more than two on the Board of Directors. IRS may require that we have more, depending on annual contributions and grant money. Don't start flooding me with calls volunteering, though, until we determine that to be true!

Fourth, we have started collecting and cataloguing letters, books, ledgers, memorabilia, artifacts related to Woodville's (including St. Frances') history. Please, if you have any of these items (or any to lend so that we can copy them!), display cases, ancestors' clothing or belongings - any items of interest - consider donating them to the future Heritage Center. One donor has already given us the entire copied (all 7856 pages) Lewis Thompson collection. We welcome any copies of any materials relevant to Woodville's past. The Smallwood papers are important, if anyone has legible copies. We are still searching for Moore Rawls' diary (1850s), or a copy. Can anyone PLEASE point me in the right direction? I am also working on a genealogy computer program for which I have already entered 1,200 names. Surnames include Thompson, Norfleet, Griffin, Urquhart, Smallwood, Ruffin, Pugh, Hill, Bryan, Gray…. and many more. When I get all the information I need, I will order a chart that will measure 3' x 9' displaying all of Woodville's interrelated families (and their ancestors) from the 1700s. This will be at the Heritage Center; I can order more for anyone else who is interested.

Last, and probably most important, in September we hired Bruce Lassiter, a very able craftsman to begin the repairs on St. Frances. Bruce has been patient and understanding when we had to halt his work when we ran short of funds, then restart when we received more donations. To date, he has repaired all the rotting windows and sills, and has replaced the door to the slave gallery. All had serious moisture damage, and presented challenges to the restoration. He has also replaced the unreadable, deteriorated sign with a beautiful new one in front of the church. He now awaits the green light to repair the steeple. Of the $9,200 we have raised for St. Frances, we have spent $6900 on the following: Bruce Lassiter's time/materials, NC Power (electrical), accountant, attorney, stationary (note our new letterhead!), stamps, and printing. Vicki Paton and I continue to donate considerable time to these projects, so please know that 100% of your donation is spent on direct costs only. No salaries, no perks, no squandering! What other charitable cause can boast this?

Bruce had advised that the following still needs to be repaired to ensure there is no further water damage to the church: minor roofing repair, steeple and louver repair, and painting the church. His estimate for this is $10,000. We have a balance of $2300 now, but will need to collect an additional $7700 for Bruce to secure the church from further damage.

If you haven't yet sent your planned contribution to help conserve Woodville's unique past, we do need funds now. It is YOUR HISTORY - past and present - that will be conserved and permanently stored in the future Heritage Center, defining a very important period and our ancestors' contributions to North Carolina's history. There can be no more gracious a gesture than to repay family, church, and community by investing to preserve and honor its past. It is also an investment into the future, as your progeny will benefit most of all from this preservation. Please send your tax-deductible check to Historic Woodville, 2312 Van Dyke Avenue, Raleigh, NC 27607 to support our efforts to document this rich heritage that has directly rewarded all of us. No amount is too small!

To those that have contributed, we thank you for providing the funds that have generated the remarkable results to date. As one unnamed college sports figure once said, "We have CAME a long, long way." We have, and we thank you very much for your support.

With Sincere Appreciation,

Vicki M. Paton
Molly Urquhart

Please send us your comments and questions.

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