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LINCOLNTON – We’ve all seen them – those grand old structures across Lincoln County that may or may not be in good condition. They all hold important stories about the history of the county and its people. Stories that all need to be told. Unfortunately, the expense and time necessary to preserve one of these buildings is prohibitive for most. 

Enter Lincoln Landmarks, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the historic structures of Lincoln County. Their mission is to highlight and preserve the county's architectural heritage and to help educate community members on the importance of those local structures remaining in the county.  The goal of the organization is to engage with the local, regional and national community by organizing events, home tours, seminars, exhibits and workshops - all designed to assist in the preservation of the historic treasures in the county for future generations.

Formed by Darryl Saunders, who recently purchased Ingleside in Iron Station and has a background and passion for preservation of historical properties, and Beth Yarbrough, known for her photographs and stories of the architectural history and stories of the great houses of the South from Texas to Virginia and all points in between.

Saunders and Yarbrough, through Lincoln Landmarks, are in the process of raising funds for the purchase and restoration of the Pleasant Retreat Academy on East Pine Street in downtown Lincolnton which was transferred by Lincoln County to The Historic Preservation Foundation of North Carolina, Inc. last year.

“The overall view is to shine a bright light and help preserve all of the county’s historical structures, whether they be churches, mills, residences or something like Pleasant Retreat Academy,” Yarbrough said. “We’ve prepared an offer to purchase to Preservation North Carolina who now owns the building. We’ll be sending it in by the end of this month.”

Saunders and Yarbrough don’t want to be a drain on the existing financial resources in Lincoln County.

“What we want to do is bring in money from outside, both from the state and national level to fund restoration projects here in Lincoln County,” Saunders said. “There’s been a need for a group like this for a while and I don’t think Lincoln County can afford to lose any more of its historic buildings.”

Once Pleasant Retreat Academy is purchased, Lincoln Landmarks will use the building as headquarters for the organization. They’ll have their offices upstairs and make the lower floor available to the public for events. 

“The more we’re digging into the history of this building, the more it’s becoming apparent to us that it’s a building of regional and possibly even national significance,” Saunders said. “There have been three former governors who studied here back when it was an academy. That’s including the first governor of Texas. We’re realizing that while it’s not a grand and massive structure, it’s important to local, regional and national history. We’d love for this to be a field trip location for school children or somewhere that we could offer seminars for adults as well. We’d like to keep with the tradition of it once being a school.”

For more information on Lincoln Landmarks or to donate to help save Pleasant Retreat Academy, visit The group is also looking for community members to volunteer and be members of the organization.

“Community engagement is important to us,” Saunders said. “We’re an open organization and welcome different points of view on what we’re trying to do. The more aware people are of the architectural and historical significance of the county, the better chance we have of preserving these structures and discovering new things.”

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