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BEAUFORT, SC — JULY 23, 2021 — Today, The Historic Beaufort Foundation Board of Trustees announced that Executive Director Cynthia Cole Jenkins is the 2021 recipient of the prestigious Governor’s Award for Excellence in Preservation. Jenkins received the award today from Gov. Henry McMaster at the Statehouse in Columbia.

Since 1995, the South Carolina Department of Archives and History, Preservation South Carolina, and the Office of the Governor have recognized exceptional accomplishments in the preservation, rehabilitation, and interpretation of our architectural and cultural heritage with a series of statewide awards. The Governor’s Award is the highest honor given by South Carolina in recognition of an individual’s significant achievements or landmark efforts in the support of historic preservation in the state. It is awarded once per year to an individual who has demonstrated lifelong dedication to the preservation of South Carolina’s historic buildings, structures, or sites — whether involved in hands-on construction, planning, management, or regulation.

Cynthia C. Jenkins earned her Bachelor of Science degree from Middle Tennessee State University and is the first individual in America to receive an undergraduate degree in Historic Preservation. Her 40-year career in historic preservation began at Lowcountry Council of Governments in Yemassee, South Carolina, in 1974. In 1987, she became Historic Beaufort Foundation’s first Executive Director. Since then, she has worked for the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Auldbrass Plantation, Tennessee’s State Historic Preservation Office, Middle Tennessee State University, the Preservation Society of Charleston, Clemson University, the College of Charleston and, of course, Historic Beaufort Foundation.

Mrs. Jenkins has also served on over two dozen boards and commissions, including the Charleston Heritage Federation, the Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau Board of Governors, the City of Charleston’s Civic Design Center Board of Directors, and the City of Charleston Tourism Management Committee and Historic Preservation Plan Advisory Committee, just to name a few.

In addition to her long career in preservation, Mrs. Jenkins volunteers her time to preservation causes. She served as a judge for the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s National Preservation Honor Awards as well as a speaker at several national conferences. Also, in 2017 she delivered the keynote address at the state preservation conference in Columbia. Jenkins served three terms over twenty years on the Board of Directors of the Palmetto Trust for Historic Preservation, now Preservation South Carolina. Jenkins also was appointed to the Greenville County Historic Preservation and currently serves as president of the Board of Directors of the South Carolina Department of Archives and History Foundation. 

Mrs. Jenkins returned to Beaufort in late 2019 as Executive Director of Historic Beaufort Foundation, a position she previously held from 1987 to 1995. 

HBF Board of Trustees Chairman Wayne Vance was pleased to learn of Jenkins’ latest accomplishment, but he said it came as no surprise to him.

“This is a 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,”  Vance said.

HBF is a 501(c)3 nonprofit education foundation created to preserve, protect, and present sites and artifacts of historic, architectural, and cultural interest throughout Beaufort County, South Carolina. For more information on the entity’s mission and history, please visit and follow them on social media, including Facebook and Instagram.