The Rockford Preservation Society was founded by Evelyn Holyfield in 1975, placing buildings within the village on the national register of historic places. A passion for the area’s history has been handed down through the family, with Hannah Holyfield now active with the Preservation Society and running the Rockford Bed and Breakfast.
The nonprofit organization has worked for the past 40 years to acquire and restore historic buildings using grants and donations. With six properties owned by the Preservation Society, “the goal all along has been to get them restored and open to the public,” said Holyfield.
Four of the properties, including the 1914 Rockford Methodist Church, the 1850 Dudley Glass Store, the 1900 Rockford Post office and the “Rockford Park” dedicated to memorializing the 1797 Grant-Burrus Hotel site, already have been restored and are open to the public.
“The one we are working on most diligently now is the 1810 W.P. Dobson General Store and Rockford Masonic Lodge,” said Holyfield, noting that the lodge met upstairs in the general store. The two-story, federal-style structure has been stabilized, with new siding, restored windows, and foundation work completed.
Preservation specialist Jason Allen has been working on the project. “He was recommended by Preservation North Carolina, and he knows how to take things back to the original,” Holyfield explained.
“We are really excited because he is taking this building back to what it looked like in 1810,” Holyfield said, noting that the project a major undertaking due to the number of modifications made over the years. A two-story, timber-frame porch on the north side of the building will be the next piece of the project with work beginning just after Christmas.
“An anonymous donor has made it possible to move forward with this project,” said Holyfield, adding that the work of the preservation society relies heavily on donations.
The society hopes to see the building open this summer, but has yet to determine what it will hold. With financial sustainability in mind, the group hopes to find a vendor, possibly antiques or crafts, to use the building as a store. “Our goal is to have every building self-sustainable and with a use and purpose so they can be open to the public,” explained Holyfield.
An open house to celebrate the progress will be planned for the summer. “It is thrilling to know that this building has come this far and has a future,” said Holyfield. For more information about the Rockford Preservation Society and visiting Historic Rockford, visit www.rememberrockford.com.
Diane Blakemore may be reached at 336-368-2222 or on twitter @PilotReporter.