North Carolina Cultural Connections

Posted in: Cultural Resources

white building with US flag
Cedar Grove crossroads community in Orange County, NC

Mead & Hunt Cultural Resources recently won a cultural master contract in North Carolina, and our team is excited! For one thing, we get the chance to build relationships with a new DOT and SHPO and explore the unique history and distinct architectural forms and styles of the region. But this chance to expand our work in North Carolina is also exciting because several of our team members have close personal ties to the region. As we’ve completed more work in the area, we’ve noticed how our own personal histories with North Carolina deepen our experience working here.

Liz Boyer went to college in nearby Virginia and later completed graduate work in South Carolina. According to Liz: “I lived on the east coast for years, and during that time I made many friends and fell in love with the countryside. I was super excited to hear that we were awarded a master contract with NCDOT, not only for the challenge of working in a new state and developing relationships with a new DOT and SHPO, but also for the chance to return to a region with such a distinct and rich history that I’ve come to know and appreciate. In the several NC projects I’ve been involved in so far, I’ve really enjoyed the range of resources—from nineteenth-century log tobacco barns to mid-twentieth-century ranch houses—sometimes side by side! History is local, and every new state we expand into has so many interesting/quirky/historic locales to explore—most that we wouldn’t even think to visit until we’re there to do fieldwork. One of the best things about our cultural resources team at Mead & Hunt is the opportunity to experience all this.”

Two women in business attire standing in front of cubicles
Angela Hronek and Liz Boyer

Angela Hronek has a similarly deep personal history with the area as a North Carolina native. She says: “I grew up in North Carolina, so when we were awarded this master contract, I could not have been more thrilled. I have been able to work on several of these projects so far. One aspect I love is getting to complete fieldwork in areas that, previously, had only been exits on the interstate to me. The opportunity to research the histories of these communities and understand how, for example, a railroad crossroads community developed, or a rural water treatment system impacted growth, has been eye-opening. Recently I completed an evaluation on a barbecue restaurant. As a native North Carolinian, I had always felt that I should know more about the history of barbecue; now I can tell you all about regional sauces, meat cuts, and cooking styles, and even recommend stops on the North Carolina Barbecue Society’s Historic Barbecue Trail! The most meaningful work for me so far has been in my hometown of Greensboro, working on some projects that deal with the city’s long history of racial segregation. Working on these projects has deepened my understanding of how this history has impacted education and housing. A year ago I could not have imagined that I would have these opportunities to work in my home state. As Mead & Hunt continues to grow, though, I’m learning that anything is possible.”

Often our own personal histories meld with and deepen our experiences working within a region. When we work to “tell the story” or preserve the local histories of a region, it is vital to remember that these histories do not exist in a vacuum. The human experience is what makes these places—the architectural forms, the culture that shaped them—worth preserving in the first place

Angela Hronek

About the Author

Angela Hronek is an architectural historian with a passion for historic preservation. Her areas of interest include post-World War II roadside architecture, GIS mapping, and histories of underrepresented groups. When not conducting historic resource surveys and evaluations for projects, you can find her making improvements to her own 100-year-old house.

Read more posts by Angela Hronek

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