WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) -“It just never stops.”
The Bellamy Mansion in historic downtown Wilmington is anxiously awaiting the chance to open its gates to the general public.
“We’ve been shut down because of COVID 19,” said director Gareth Evans. “We’ve stayed busy but we’re losing $25,000 a month with the shut down.”
Maintaining a 160-year-old property that’s 10,000 square feet doesn’t come cheap.
PPP loans and a big fundraiser have helped with two months’ worth of expenses, but there’s painting, rotting wood that needs to be replaced, and a roof that needs to be sealed at a cost of $25,000.
“We’re grateful for all the help,” said Evans. “It’s unfortunate—March, April, May, June; these are peak tourism months.”
It is the out-of-town tourists who flock to local museums.
Yvonne Clemons is a 66-year-old Wilmingtonian who lives just blocks from the mansion and has never been.
“One thing leads to another. I’ve always wanted to go, but never got the chance,” said Clemmons.
That changed on Thursday. Clemmons arrived following an the invitation from WECT and the Bellamy Mansion.
In a time when our country is struggling with ingrained social injustice, her perspective on what ails us is magnified by looking back at local history.
“This tour has been timely. Learning about the local slave conditions and how far we’ve come has really taught me a lesson,” said Clemmons. “If we could just learn to love one another and accept one another for who we are.”
Just blocks from the mansion that was built with the help of slave labor in the late 1850′s, two Confederate monuments were taken down early Thursday morning. Wilmington’s city leaders say that move is in the interest of public safety.
Around the country, the same cries are being heard in city after city. Many say the statues of the Confederacy are being honored for all the wrong reasons.
Now, within blocks of one another, there is a symbol of a time gone by and a new symbol of what lies ahead.
The Bellamy Mansion is usually open to the general public for guided and self-guided tours. The gates remain locked because of COVID-19 and the staff is waiting for some positive direction from the governor’s office.
“We’re ready. We have masks, sanitizer and plans to limit capacity,” said Evans. “We’re like many organizations across the state just waiting for the green light to go.”
To learn more about Bellamy Mansion, click here.