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Renovation Reaves Chapel

Dan Dodge

Reaves Chapel in Navassa, NC is being restored after decades of weathering. The church was erected after the civil war by for­merly enslaved people of the Cedar Hill rice plantation. It was relocated once in 1922, because of the boom in infrastructure during the rebuilding period after the war. This church was like home to members of community until about 1995 when the church Matriarch, Aurelia Ger­trude Weston, passed away. The church has since been vulnerable to the elements and has suffered particularly from termite damage. Structural reinforcement is currently being put into place and the building is being braced.

The chapel will be a topic for conversation in the North Car­olina Rice Festival, which will serve to educate people about the history of rice growing and the enslaved people that shaped the culture of African Americans and Gullah-Geechee peo­ple in the area today.  Reaves Chapel will be important to the Rice Festival because it used to be on the Cedar Hill Rice Plantation, and it ties into the religious aspect of the Gullah-Geechee culture.

In 2019 the Coastal Land Trust and Cedar Hill/West Bank Heritage Foundation bought the church and has been supported by the community in continuing con­struction.  Specifically, the Historic Wilmington Foundation and the North Carolina Department of Culture Research, along with private donors in the community.

The community is hopeful that Reaves Chapel will be recognized as a state historic site of North Carolina and will be a part of the national registry. It is a rich part of African American history and it is a reminder of the post-civil war era which was a time full of hope and as­pirations.

The president of the Cedar Hill/West Bank Heritage Foundation, Alfonso Beatty, comments that they are still accepting donations. If you are interested in donating to the restoration of the church you could donate through the website or by send­ing a check addressed to Cedar Hill West Bank Heritage foundation to P.O. box 1735 Leland NC 28451.


Coming in March 2022

THE NORTH CAROLINA RICE FESTI­VAL will attract families, history enthusiasts, educators, tourists and residents alike to the Leland, North Carolina (Brunswick County), area to learn about and celebrate the region’s rich and diverse cultural history of rice farm­ing. The Board of Directors of the North Carolina Rice Festival, Inc. (NCRFI) is dedicated to supporting efforts to preserve and promote the history and culture of our area, both within and beyond the planned Festivals.

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