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The Historic Beaufort Foundation is so pleased to announce that our executive director, Cynthia Jenkins, is this year’s recipient of the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Preservation!

This prestigious award recognizes excellence in the field of historic preservation and an individual’s commitment to preserving South Carolina’s history. The Governor’s Award is the highest honor given by the State of South Carolina and acknowledges achievements in support of historic preservation in South Carolina. This award is only presented to individuals who have exemplified lifelong dedication to the preservation of South Carolina’s historic buildings, structures or sites. No one epitomizes a love of South Carolina’s historic preservation more than Cynthia Jenkins.

Historic preservation has long been an integral part of Cynthia’s life. As the first person to receive an undergraduate degree in Historic Preservation, Cynthia has always understood the importance of maintaining and cultivating the history of people and places. Cynthia began her impressive career in historic preservation at the Lowcountry Council of Governments in Yemassee, South Carolina. From there, Cynthia joined the Tennessee State Historic Preservation Office and developed the methodology of conducting statewide historic site surveys. While there, she also assisted in creating an efficient National Register program.

Cynthia quickly became a sought-after expert in the field of historic preservation. In 1996, the Preservation Society of Charleston saw the benefit of her experience and hired Cynthia as their Executive Director. While there, she focused on preservation advocacy, preservation education and preservation planning. Under her leadership, the Society’s endowment increased from less than $20,000 to more than $2,000,000. Cynthia’s love for preservation is contagious and the Preservation Society of Charleston’s membership increased by close to one third in number.

Over the years, Cynthia has served on over two dozen boards and commissions. She has also worked as an Adjunct Professor at Clemson University and the University of Charleston and educational adviser at Middle State Tennessee University. Additionally, Cynthia continues to serve as a volunteer and on several Boards of Directors. Cynthia has had the opportunity to work with many different historic organizations in several places. In each of these roles, she has made important advancements in historic preservation.

But perhaps her favorite accomplishment has been her long association with the Frank Lloyd Wright designed Auldbrass Plantation near Yemassee, South Carolina. Cynthia was instrumental in securing its listing on the National Register of Historic Places. She also directed the monitoring of covenants for restoration required by the Historic Charleston Foundation.

In addition to her leadership roles, Cynthia has also found time to publish informative literature in areas of historic preservation. She surveyed, researched and wrote Historic Resources of the Lowcountry: A Regional Survey. She also assisted the City of Beaufort in developing The Beaufort Preservation Manual, which remains one of the most successful preservation design manuals for individuals and cities.

At the Historic Beaufort Foundation, we recognize how lucky we are to have Cynthia as our Executive Director. In 2019, she returned to the Historic Beaufort Foundation as the Executive Director. Here, she is focusing on the organization’s efforts of ensuring that preservation in Beaufort remains at the forefront by raising the organization’s profile, increasing membership, adding diversity and rehabilitating the Verdier House, a Beaufort landmark. Among other pivotal Beaufort projects, Cynthia was a key player in the development of the City’s Tourism Ordinance, the Tour Bus Ordinance and Film Guidelines. Wayne Vance, Chairman, HBF Board of Trustees, recognized Cynthia’s receipt of the Governor’s Award with the following words: “This is well deserved recognition of Cynthia’s talent, knowledge and dedication. Her leadership is invaluable to our community and to accomplishing the Foundation’s mission to preserve and protect Beaufort’s historic and architectural legacy.” 

Congratulations to Cynthia!