An effort to preserve a historical building that has served Wilmington’s Black community since the 1870s has taken some steps forward.
The project to restore Giblem Lodge, a Black Masonic temple on North Eighth Street, received a $5,000 grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, according to a news release Monday from the Historic Wilmington Foundation.
The money will pay for fundraising consultant services and the creation of a major gifts strategy, the release stated.
A partnership between the Historic Wilmington Foundation and the Prince Hall Masons of Giblem Lodge began in May 2021, according to the release. Since then, the Giblem Lodge task force has successfully applied for grant funding, resulting in the replacement of Giblem Lodge’s roof, soffit, and fascia, as well as a structural engineer’s report.
Giblem Lodge was also recently designated as a local landmark by Wilmington City Council.
“Giblem Lodge No. 2 … holds a remarkable historic significance that resonates within the community,” said Earl Armstrong, Worshipful Master of Giblem Lodge, in the release.
Much of Giblem's recent renovations have been funded by preservation groups, but the Giblem Lodge task force is also seeking to recruit corporate donors and engage local philanthropists, according to the release.
“Through political, religious, educational, and fraternal functions, Giblem represents both the aspirations of Wilmington’s Black community during Reconstruction and their resiliency during Jim Crow,” the release stated. “The Prince Hall Masons meet on the first floor; they seek to rehabilitate the upper floors so that the three-story building may better serve the community.”
Once the rehabilitation is complete, the third floor will be restored as the Masons' meeting hall, with plans to include a public exhibit space to honor the Lodge’s history and the contributions of Black Wilmingtonians, according to the release.
“A community center on the second floor (known historically as Mariah Hall) would collaborate with existing nonprofit organizations, and would be open to after-school programs and other service/civic organizations,” the release stated.
The release said maintenance of Giblem Lodge will be supported by profits from leasing the first floor to a local business.
In a WilmingtonBiz Magazine story earlier this year, Giblem Lodge member Terry Jackson said, “It’s like breathing. It [the lodge] has been the oxygen to a lot of African American growth from the 1800s to today. And so if it isn’t restored, it’d be like cutting off the oxygen to a lot of the past, the present and plans for the future.”
This month, the soffit and fascia were installed on the Wilmington Local Landmark, fortifying the structural integrity of the building and preventing further deterioration.
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