Hyde County seeks recognition for historic landmark

Published 2:54 pm Monday, March 8, 2021

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Hyde County’s Davis High Ventures Corporation (DHVC) has been notified by the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources that the Study List Application they recently submitted requesting the former Davis School in Engelhard be considered for placement on the National Register of Historic Places has been approved.

The review of the application by the National Register Advisory Committee was a preliminary evaluation step required by the SHPO to determine if the property was a likely candidate for placement on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP).

The NRHP is an official list of the Nation’s historic places worthy of preservation, authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. Managed by the National Park Service, the program coordinates and supports public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect our country’s historic and archeological resources. 

Potential entries are evaluated using criteria to signify the quality of the entry’s place in American history, architecture, archaeology, and/or culture is present. 

Davis School (formerly Davis High School) was completed in 1953 just west of  the rural Hyde County fishing village of Engelhard. It served Black students from the nearby communities of Engelhard, Fairfield, Middletown, Nebraska, Slocum, and St. Lydia. The Engelhard Ridge School, a Black school that had opened in 1923 was located on this same site but had closed in 1952. Davis is one of two surviving Black school buildings in Hyde County and is owned by the County of Hyde. It holds a significant place in the county’s history. 

Following the permanent closing of Davis School in 1999, the nonprofit DHVC was formed. Thus began the journey to protect and preserve the building and its rich Black history. Their mission includes the educational development of the youth of Hyde County and they encourage Hyde County residents to pool human and financial resources to enhance the professional, educational, economic, and cultural opportunities within the county. DHVC currently leases the building from the County and operates the Davis Youth Recreation & Community Center there. The building also has a shared-used community kitchen and a fitness center.

The next step is the preparation of a nomination and the process is complex and onerous one that will require the hiring of a specialized consultant. Alumni of Davis School are in the planning stages of various fundraisers to help defray the costs. Anyone interested in helping should contact Michael Adams at 252-943-8414.