The 2020 ACHP/HUD Secretary’s Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation was presented in a virtual ceremony on October 21, 2020, to the Historic Ashe Hospital project in Jefferson, North Carolina, which restored and reinvented a Depression-era hospital into affordable housing for low-income seniors and individuals with disabilities.
The Historic Ashe Hospital project in Jefferson, NC (pop.1,420) shows the power of community in rural America. The hospital, Ashe County’s first, was built during the Depression by the WPA with contributions of labor and materials from local residents. When a new hospital was constructed in the 1970’s, the old hospital sat vacant but not forgotten. Recently, the community came together again to restore and reinvent the landmark building for affordable housing for low-income seniors and individuals with disabilities. Section 8 vouchers ensure that the residents pay no more than 30% of their income for rent in the 46 new units created in the old building and a new wing, along with a community room, library and space for on-site social services. The project incorporates sustainable principles by reusing an existing building and in meeting Energy Star standards. And it is a model of how combining LIHTC with federal and state historic tax credits can transform important heritage buildings into affordable homes. The project saved a valued local landmark, contributed to community revitalization, and greatly improved residents’ lives, and that is why it earned the 2020 ACHP/HUD Secretary’s Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation. The Award was presented to project partners Tise-Kiester Architects; Northwestern Housing Enterprises, Incorporated; ALH General Contractor; Northwestern Regional Housing Authority; RedStone Equity Partners, LLC; Bank of Tennessee; Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati; and North Carolina Housing Finance Agency.