ROCKINGHAM — The Richmond County Historical Society reported significant increases in its endowment and elected board members at its monthly meeting on Monday.
As of Sept. 30, 2017, the RCHS endowment fund, established in 2011, reached $64,930. The Leak-Wall House Fund, which raised $122,975 with the help of $50,000 donation in 2015, was at $257,864 at the same point in the year. The Walter and Betty Reid Endowment for the grounds of the Leak-Wall House and Garden was at $366,970, according to Joanne Cadieu, treasurer of the RCHS.
Cadieu said the endowments did well in 2017 thanks to the stock market.
“We are now a financially sound nonprofit historical society,” said Dr. John Stevenson, president of RCHS. “We’re very fortunate to be in the position we’re in.”
With the passing of RCHS vice president Jimmy Pippin in November, board member Brent Neal served out the rest of the 2017 term in his seat, which left a vacancy on the board. John Hutchinson was elected to fill Neal’s seat to serve a three-year term starting in February.
Hutchinson, mayor pro tem of the Rockingham City Council, was elected this week as president of the Rockingham Downtown Corporation.
Stevenson said he was “tickled” to see Hutchinson back at a RCHS board meeting. He was an intern for the society after college and wrote or contributed to two books on Richmond County history: “No Ordinary Lives: A History of Richmond County, North Carolina 1750-1900” and co-wrote a book on Richmond County in the 20th century with Glenn Sumpter, former editor of the Daily Journal.
Stevenson noted that Hutchinson has been getting back into writing about and studying history after a hiatus to work and support his young children.
“Needless to say, when I found that out I jumped on the chance of convincing him we needed his face back here,” Stevenson said. He added that he hopes some of his work will lead to presentations on notable historical events in Richmond County for the public.
Board members Betty McBryde and Don McLeod were re-elected for three-year terms.
McBryde, chairperson for the Bostick Schoolhouse project, reported that a first-time grant of $5,000 from the Richmond County Board of Commissioners was used in 2017 to repair the roof of the building.
May MacCallum reported that the Leak-Wall House has improved the weather protections for the house, though the recent bout of subfreezing temperatures caused the pipes to burst. Repairs are ongoing.
Stevenson said the society is in the process of raising funds to put up signs at Hinson Lake that will honor Judge Henry Frye and the Civilian Conservation Core. The Claude Smith Foundation donated $1,000 to this effort towards the end of 2017. Stevenson also announced that he has arranged for a Southern cooking expert to give a presentation at the board’s next meeting on Feb. 20.
“History is so important … especially during the times we’re in now. I get depressed sometimes talking to the younger population asking historical questions like, ‘Who was the first president of the United States?’ and they look at me and it’s not there,” Stevenson said. “We need to do a better job at educating our younger population of our great history of — not only this county — but this nation.”
Reach Gavin Stone at 910-817-2674 or [email protected]