On hand to witness the clearing, being led by Charles Hughes and his construction company, were city, county and Pride of Kinston officials along with representatives of private donors and the news media.
Mayor Buddy Ritch explained to the group that the buildings were coming down to make way for a new entrance off Queen Street into the city’s historic cemeteries—Maplewood, Cedar Grove and Hebrew burial grounds—making these sacred grounds more visible and accessible to residents and tourists alike. Cities and towns across the country have tapped into peoples’ fascination about community cemeteries as destinations for those interested in local and regional history.
Joining the mayor were City Manager Scott Stevens, Lenoir County Economic Director Mark Pope, Rob Bizzell of Realo Discount Drugs, Wade Layton of BB&T; Lloyd Godley of Wachovia; Brooke Jones and Adrian King of Pride and a number of citizen onlookers including University of North Carolina city government interns.
Pride of Kinston director Adrian King pointed out that creation of an updated streetscape for the entire strip from King Street to the intersection of Queen and Springhill is underway, being created by NCSU College of Design intern Brooke Jones. He also noted that the empty lot at the intersection of Queen and Springhill is to be the site for a new garden “announcing” Kinston and its All-America City status. This is to be accomplished with the pledged assistance of Spirit AeroSystems, providing earth in which to seed the garden.
Proposals for enhancing the entrance and appearance of the historic cemeteries as part of a re-framed South Queen corridor were contained in a 1991 South Queen Street: A Comprehensive Redevelopment Strategy and a 2000 Themed Development Plan for the Revitalization of Downtown Kinston and Surrounding Historic Areas. Both plans were products of Pride of Kinston and various partners.
The overall plan and objectives for South Queen Street with the new entry into Maplewood-Cedar Grove and Hebrew cemeteries have been endorsed financially by the following:
Efforts to secure additional support continue.
Property owners at the 420-408 strip along the eastern boundary of Queen Street between South and Shine Streets made their properties available at tax value. Those owners who actively supported the revitalization plan are Bishop Johnnie Reddick, the Drucilla Hussey Hearn Trust, Will Dove et al, Milton Dove, Jr., Cleatrice Simmons, and Roger Croom, Jr. Pride is grateful for their support.
The Hughes Construction Company is aiding Pride of Kinston in the work to clear the location of dilapidated buildings to make way for a new entrance into the historical burial grounds.
Kenneth R. Blizzard of the Contract Flooring and Design Company donated the work to clear the buildings of asbestos in preparation for the demolition.
Mayor Ritch has been an avid proponent of the plan since its inception two years ago. His efforts are largely responsible for much of the financial support garnered for the rehabilitation project.
Pride of Kinston is grateful for the generous support and encouragement of many people to undertake construction of a “new day” for the South Queen Street entranceway into our downtown, stated King.
In the days prior to the demolition project, platoons of teenagers participating in the Erasing the Lines project spent several days upgrading the landscaping of Maplewood and Cedar Grove cemeteries.
The project was coordinated by Pride landscaping intern Brooke Jones, student in North Carolina State University’s College of Design.
The landscaping project and the clearing of space for a new entrance to the cemeteries are hand-in-glove aspects of the first phase of the South Queen beautification plan, according to Pride of Kinston.
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