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How the Preservation Society of Asheville and Buncombe County protects our area’s history

Through easements, grant funding, technical support, and educational programming, the Preservation Society of Asheville and Buncombe County is conserving a sense of place.

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Last year, PSABC awarded Shiloh African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church $5,000 for HVAC system replacement.

Photo via PSABC

The Preservation Society of Asheville and Buncombe County (PSABC) was formed in 1976, at a time when pressure to develop was weighing heavily on Asheville. And as Asheville has grown considerably since then, so has the PSABC. It now offers many programs to preserve and protect historic properties and share the history of our area — so to celebrate National Preservation Month, we’re going to dive into the work the society does and how you can get in on the action.

Preservation programming

One of the cornerstones of the PSABC’s work is facilitating preservation easements, permanently protecting property through a legal agreement that restricts development or changes to privately owned property. Previous easements include the Manor Inn Apartments, which have a storied past and were protected from demolition by the PSABC in the 90s.

The historic grant program disperses funding, from $500 to $5,000, for projects that fall into three categories: brick-and-mortar (think repairs for structures 50 years or older), public education, and survey, planning, and designation. Projects in historically excluded neighborhoods and rural communities are given priority. The program has been able to help fund everything from history panels, video interviews capturing oral histories, and graphic novels exploring Asheville’s history. Check out the list of previous grant recipients.

PSABC Executive Director Jessie Landl shares that perhaps one of the most overlooked programs the PSABC offers is technical support. Anybody who owns a historical structure, whether a private home or commercial building, can request a site visit where staff will advise on how to properly maintain or rehabilitate a property and can even give contractor recommendations. The property doesn’t need any historic designation — it just needs to be at least 50 years old.

Getting involved

On Friday, May 17, you can party with the Society inside a gorgeous mid-century modern private home. Designed by notable architect Bert King, the Lakeview Park home was built in 1959 and still boasts nearly all of its original elements (with just a couple bathrooms now updated). Get tickets to the house party to boogie to live music, snack on heavy hors d’oeuvres, and sip whiskey sours in this stunner of a home — all to benefit the PSABC.

The inside of a mid-century modern home with dark green tile flooring, warm brick walls, and a geometric glass panel next to the front door. The home is the site of the Preservation Society of Asheville and Buncombe County's upcoming fundraiser.

Take a peak inside the home before the party starts.

Photo by Mosaic Realty and Chris Cassels

On Thursday, May 23, the Society will host the 45th annual Griffin Awards for Historic Preservation, highlighting local projects in categories like rehabilitation and adaptive reuse.

The PSABC’s website is a treasure trove of information on our area’s historical architecture, with deep dives into specific properties, mysterious histories, and common building styles throughout the area. If you’re a history buff like us, you’ll get lost in these detailed entries.

To stay up to date with more events and educational programming from the PSABC, you can sign up for its newsletter, which will hit your inbox on the second Tuesday of each month. If you’re looking to support the organization, you can volunteer your time and skills, make a donation, or become a member.