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Remote Portsmouth Island village gets helping hand 

Cape Lookout National Seashore recently sponsored the University of North Carolina at Greensboro’s historic preservation field school for the first time in the Portsmouth Historic District.  

The work, which took place from May 14 through May 24, involved cleaning, repairing, repointing and identifying further priorities that ensure much needed preservation work at 1700s-era village. 

Portsmouth thrived through the Civil War, but experienced a sharp decline in population into the 20th century. In 1956, only 17 residents remained. And in 1971, the last two elderly residents reluctantly moved to the mainland. 

UNCG’s field school provided the opportunity to hone the skills of the students, and their work will help protect the remote Outer Banks village, Cape Fear National Seashore said in a news relase. 

The national seashore’s maintenance team hosted and provided support for the four undergraduate and six graduate students of the field school under the instruction of professor Jo Leimenstoll, along with historic preservation contractors from Reudrich Restorations. 

The completed preservation work list included repointing brick piers under the foundation of the Historic Methodist Church, reassembling broken gravestones that were lying on the ground at the Grace cemetery, reparing epaired the roof, siding and windows of the Roy Robinson house and assessing the Community Cemetery for future preservation work. 

The National Park Service invited the class to partner with them and restoration craftspeople, for two weeks of the three-week long field school. The course offers a unique model for providing out-of-the-classroom experiences and opportunities for building connections beyond the Greensboro campus by community engagement. 

Portsmouth Island, which includes the National Register Portsmouth Historic District, is located on the northern end of the Cape Lookout National Seashore boundary. Passenger ferry service is available from Ocracoke on Rudy Austin’s Portsmouth Island Boat Tours. 

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