The Public Lands Alliance awarded the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation and National Park Service (NPS) the 2022 Public Lands Partner Award on Wednesday, April 20, for their joint project to rehabilitate the exterior of Flat Top Manor at Moses H. Cone Memorial Park in Blowing Rock, N.C.
The award recognizes an exemplary partnership for a stunning achievement to protect and preserve public lands and enhance the experiences of their visitors and users. The award is presented to both the nonprofit and agency partners for their shared achievements.
“It is truly gratifying to accept this award along with the National Park Service for a project that means so much to Parkway visitors and the Blowing Rock community,” said Carolyn Ward, CEO of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation. “The renovations at Flat Top Manor demonstrate that we can meet the larger needs within our national park through collaboration and creativity.”
“We are honored to be recognized with our park partner, the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, for this award,” said Tracy Swartout, superintendent, Blue Ridge Parkway. “This recognition helps underscore the value of partnerships in helping the NPS accomplish its mission to safeguard special places and share their stories.”
For years, the former home of Moses and Bertha Cone was desperate for repairs that far exceeded the park’s funding. Peeling paint, crumbling woodwork, decaying columns, and boarded-up windows at Flat Top Manor marred its original grandeur. The National Park Service turned to the Foundation to help save the circa-1901 Colonial Revival style home that serves as the centerpiece of the 3,500-acre estate.
Architects from the Denver Service Center (the National Park Service’s planning, design, and construction management office) led the restoration work. They undertook the most comprehensive restoration ever tackled on the 120-year-old home. Their expertise guided the skilled contractors who completed the work.
The extensive exterior renovations took 14 months to complete. Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation donors and the National Park Service funded the $2.4 million rehabilitation.
“The commitment of those who love the Cone estate was crucial in this effort to remake history,” said Jordan Calaway, the Foundation’s Chief Development Officer. “Donors truly stepped up to protect this treasured place listed on the National Register of Historic Places.”
The project is one of many that Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation donors and volunteers have made possible at the estate, including the construction of restrooms at Bass Lake, clearing of vegetation on carriage trails, care of the hydrangea garden, and the installation of a fire suppression system in the manor.
This year, the Foundation is celebrating its 25th anniversary of partnership with the Blue Ridge Parkway. The nonprofit collaborates with the National Park Service team to preserve history and culture, protect natural resources, educate visitors, engage the next generation of public land stewards, and ensure memorable experiences for visitors.
The Public Lands Alliance has worked to foster and advance its members, the nonprofit partners of America’s public lands, since 1977. It is a unified, powerful community dedicated to the preservation, enrichment and enjoyment of America’s most treasured places.