Beautiful town, beautiful people

Published 4:49 pm Monday, July 18, 2022

Over the past few weeks, I’ve had wonderful conversations with people about how wonderful Washington looks these days, and how ordinary people are doing extraordinary things to contribute to our city’s beauty, rich history, culture and the arts.

My awesome friend, Debra Torrence, the former Executive Director of the Arts of the Pamlico and I had a conversation a few years ago, about how people could decorate our world and our town with beautiful ideas that would produce something for everyone to enjoy.

As you may have seen lately, there are several beautiful murals, historic markers, enhanced city parks and green spaces around town and so much more.

There are so many opportunities for citizens to share their creative gifts of beauty. There’s the amazing lady who lovingly, tends and cares for the beautiful plants and flowers in the huge flowerpots on Main Street. There are businesses who have put tables and chairs in front of their businesses for outdoor dining and relaxing, there are those who have constructed the mini libraries around town, built dog parks, and, homeowners around town who have planted the most beautiful flowers and shrubs in their yards.  Thank you, these efforts are so appreciated.

I want to share one of the ways I wanted to decorate the greater Washington area, my hometown. When Milt and I retired in 2012 and we moved back to Washington from New Jersey, I wanted to see beautiful historical markers celebrating our town’s history and uniqueness. I love the North Carolina Highway Historical Commission markers. But I wanted some I had seen in other states that were very colorful and gave brief narratives of fascinating history, folk tales and fun stories. I researched many marker companies and found some that even offered a small amount of grant money towards the cost of the marker. But I kept looking for a better deal and I found it!

I thank God for the William G. Pomeroy Foundation and the beautiful markers that they offer to cities and towns at no cost. There are presently 1,800 makers across the United States they have completely funded.  You can read more about the Pomeroy Foundation here at  William G. Pomeroy Foundation | For History, For Life (wgpfoundation.org).

When I discovered Washington could get these markers at no cost, we went to work on securing some. In conjunction with former City Councilor Virginia Finnerty, Brown Librarian Children’s Director Terry Rollins, City of Washington grant writer Berekia Divanga, The Brown Library, The Underground Railroad Museum and the Historic Port of Washington, our town now has four of these beautiful markers and more are being planned for Washington and Beaufort County.  These markers can serve as sources of pride for our town, and they are wonderful tourists’ attractions. After the installation of the Hull Anderson marker near the corner of Main and Gladden Street last year, people from all over the country wanted to know how we got the markers.  People definitely notice what we have here.

When I see these markers, my vision to decorate Washington in this way has been realized. I am so grateful for all those who shared this vision with me and made it happen. Thank you!  And to all of you who in your own way make this town so beautiful, a very special thank you.

Leesa Jones is a Washington native and the co-founder and co-executive director of the Washington Waterfront Underground Railroad Museum.