An advocate for historic preservation in Wilmington is retiring. George Edwards has been the executive director of Historic Wilmington Foundation for 13 years. He's announced he’ll leave by the end of the year.
A group of citizens concerned about the demolition of Wilmington’s historic buildings founded the Historic Wilmington Foundation in 1966.
No one ran the organization longer than George Edwards.
“I’ve had a great time. It’s been an incredible 32 years in this profession, with no regrets at all. And of those 32 years almost 13 years here have been the most fun, and both the most challenging and rewarding and I say that in a positive vein.”
In a news release, the foundation’s board of trustees all praised Edwards for his work and dedication to the Foundation, and the historic preservation movement in Wilmington and the Lower Cape Fear region. They said that Edwards has been the face of the Foundation… and he will be missed.
“I could not have asked for a better spot to come to when I made the decision to accept the position, back in 2004…
“It’s a very supportive community, and I mean that from our members, our corporate underwriters, government, I think overall it’s been a wonderful 13 years here.”
Edwards moved to Wilmington from Richmond, Virginia in 2004. Prior to coming here, he worked for local and statewide non-profit preservation organizations and spent seven years in the Main Street downtown redevelopment field.
For Edwards, the timing is right.
“I think it’s a good time for me to step aside and let somebody else come into the Foundation. I hope, I believe that we have built the Foundation to the strongest point that perhaps it’s ever been in.”
“When you look back, what are the greatest accomplishments?”
“Well I think we have done several things. I think the regeneration of our salvage operation two years ago with a great assist from Delores Williams our manager out there, and the incredible success we’ve been able to have is great. It’s a mission-driven activity, but it’s also a wonderful environmental response because we’re keeping material out of the landfill, and we’re recycling it.”
Edwards says he is also thrilled about the foundation’s educational initiatives.
“I am extraordinarily proud about Tar Heels all the time, our Tar Heels Go Walking partnership with the public schools. There are so many little stories about kids reinforcing with me why that is so important when they make comments about how great the experience was, history rocks!”
“We have been able to lead over 22,000 3rd grade children on a walking tour of downtown and we introduce them to history, architecture, historic preservation, public art….”
“I think our advocacy has been good, I’m proud of what we have been able to stand up for and the victories we have been able to achieve with selling preservation across the community. Our threatened places program has educated people.”
But retiring doesn’t mean Edwards won’t still be working.
“Using a sports analogy I still feel like I can hit for power, and average, and catch the fly ball in the outfield so I feel like I can still do a good job and I feel like I can do that someplace else, not as a fulltime person anymore.”
Edwards’ last day as executive director of Historic Wilmington Foundation is in mid-December.
The board says it will form a search committee to fill the director’s position.
The Historic Wilmington Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Learn more here.