Golden Frinks house receives sign

A sign stands in front of the Golden Frinks house in Edenton.

A sign has been installed at the home of civil rights activist Golden Frinks’ home.

The sign notes a grant from the National Park Service African American Civil Rights Grant Fund will help tell a more complete story of Edenton’s recent past.

Frinks' home recently was acquired by the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources for use as an interpretive space for sharing the stories of struggle and triumph in the fight for equal rights in eastern North Carolina.

The North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources has been awarded a grant by the National Park Service (NPS) to preserve the Frinks House as the newest part of the Edenton State Historic Site. The NPS approved the $241,940 grant request that will fund repairs to the house to prepare it for use as an educational space.

“We are grateful for this grant program from the National Park Service, which will help us to preserve this important part of North Carolina history and tell the story of the struggle for Civil Rights in our state,” said Susi H. Hamilton, secretary of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

According to Director of the Division of State Historic Sites Michelle Lanier, “We are incredibly humbled and inspired to embark upon this new ‘Freedom House’ project and to further illuminate the stories of Civil Rights champions such as Golden Frinks.”

Golden Frinks purchased the property in 1958 and lived there until his death. The house was known as the “Freedom House” to locals because many visited him there to plan and carry out Civil Rights protests and other activities. Changes have been made to the house since Frinks’ death in 2004 and it remains reflective of his lifetime of service to the fight for equality.

Frinks was Field Secretary for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and was responsible for organizing protests, sit ins, and other forms of resistance across North Carolina and the southeastern United States. He often opened his home to local organizers and hosted visits from national leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Benbury-Frinks House is a contributing property to the Edenton Historic District. To maintain the historic integrity of the house, the State Historic Preservation Office is leading the development of a repair and renovation plan. After the renovation, the interior spaces will be upfit with exhibits describing Frinks’ life and the history of the Civil Rights movement in North Carolina.

So far, a new roof and utility upgrades have been at the home, said Bob Hopkins, manager of Edenton Historic Sites. Once a plan for the site has been made, a climate-control system will be installed.

The grant preserving the house comes from the $14 million in African American Civil Rights Historic Preservation Fund. It is one 51 projects, across 20 states and the District of Columbia, that will preserve sites and history related to the African American struggle for equality in the 20th century. Congress appropriated funding for the African American Civil Rights Grants Program in 2019 through the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF). The HPF uses revenue from federal oil leases on the Outer Continental Shelf, providing assistance for a broad range of preservation projects without expending tax dollars.

“These grants will fund important projects that document, interpret, and preserve sites that tell the stories of the African American experience in the pursuit of civil rights,” said National Park Service Deputy Director David Vela. “Thanks to the coordination of public and private partners, these projects will help connect Americans to historic places that preserve American history.”

For information about the grants and the African America Civil Rights Grant Program, please visit https://www.nps.gov/preservation-grants/civil-rights/ .

Find information about Golden Frinks on NCPedia: https://www.ncpedia.org/biography/frinks-golden .

Contact Nicole Bowman-Layton at nlayton@ncweeklies.com.