Developers Dean Schaan and Paul Robinson have been recognized with a prestigious state award for their restoration of the Historic Fowler Building on Water Street in downtown Elizabeth City.

Schaan and Robinson were recipients of the Gertrude S. Carraway Awards of Merit handed out during a virtual awards presentation at the Preservation N.C. Conference on Friday.

The Awards of Merit is given to individuals or organizations that have demonstrated a “genuine commitment to historic preservation” through extraordinary leadership, research, philanthropy, promotion and significant participation in preservation.

The award is named after the late Dr. Gertrude S. Carraway, a noted New Bern historian and preservationist. Presented since 1974, a maximum of 12 Carraway awards are given each year.

Schaan and Robinson purchased the then vacant Fowler Building in 2016 and set about restoring it. The building now features two retail tenants — Brackwater Brush Studio and Zaribel’s — and two upstairs apartments. Two additional apartments were added to the back of the building in an area that was not part of the original building.


During the virtual awards ceremony, the narrator of a video describing the project called the building a “vacant eyesore” before Schaan and Robinson purchased it.

“It long laid dormant,” the narrator said. “Dean and Paul were determined to restore and renovate the building to its original early 20th century appearance and create retail and residential spaces to contribute to the growing historic preservation efforts underway in historic downtown Elizabeth City. Their multi-year effort has resulted in a beautifully restored brick structure.’’

The property is now referred to as the New Fowler Store and it is located a 113 Water Street.

“It is a major transformation from an aesthetic point downtown and on Water Street,” said Elizabeth City Downtown, Inc. Director Deborah Malenfant. “Those guys did a fabulous job.’’