Piedmont Folk Legacies Receives Half-Million-Dollar Property Gift
Historic Site Slated to Become National Banjo Center
Piedmont Folk Legacies (PFL), Inc., a non-profit group based in Eden, North Carolina, has received a substantial gift of property appraised at $510,000 as a donation from D.H. Griffin of neighboring Greensboro and James Klemic of Charlottesville, Virginia. Extending along Warehouse Street in the heart of Eden’s Spray Industrial National Register Historic District, the site includes two striking early twentieth century textile mill buildings totaling 220,000 square feet. The gift is key towards the anticipated development of the National Banjo Center, an exhibition, performance, education and recording complex that would be dedicated to this uniquely American musical instrument.
According to PFL board member Hank Sapoznik, “Few musical instruments are more closely tied or hold greater significance to American history than the banjo. From its West African roots, to its birth in the seventeenth century Caribbean, and through its meteoric rise in nineteenth century American popular culture, the banjo is an iconic instrument whose impact is woven into the cultural fabric of the American experience.”
Located approximately 35 miles north of Greensboro in Rockingham County, the small town of Eden has deep ties to America’s banjo legacy as the former home of Charlie Poole. Back when the town was known as Spray, Poole spent much of his adult life working as a mill hand while his innovative, three-finger picking banjo style and string band recordings helped pioneer the country and bluegrass sound.
“This is where this should happen, where Poole walked the Earth,” declared PFL President Louise Price. “Our ultimate goal is to make sure that this music and this heritage stays alive.”
Piedmont Folk Legacies already honors this native son through its acclaimed Charlie Poole Music Festival. Now in its fourteenth year, the summer festival celebrates Poole’s international reputation with concerts and competitions in old-time and bluegrass music. Scheduled this year for June 12th through June 14th, the festival’s headline act will be Dom Flemons of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, an African-American string band. The annual Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to legendary African-American string band musician Joe Thompson.
While the Charlie Poole Music Festival is currently held at the Eden Fairgrounds, PFL’s dream is to one day host the event at the National Banjo Center. With this recent property gift, that dream just took a giant leap towards becoming reality.
Submitted by Dan Peck
See also “Plans for National Banjo Center in Eden Strumming Along”, with video.