Two LGBT historic sites in N.C. under consideration for national landmark status

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Two historic sites in North Carolina with connections to LGBT history are currently under consideration for federal historic landmark status.

Last year, the National Park Service called for suggestions on places of historic importance to the LGBT community. That list has grown to 400, including the home where Sinister Wisdom, the nation’s oldest lesbian literary journal, was founded in Charlotte as well as the childhood Durham home of Pauli Murray, a women’s rights activist and lawyer.

Sinister Wisdom was founded in 1976 by Harriet Ellenberger (Desmoines) and Catherine Nicholson in a home on Plaza Midwood’s Country Club Dr. Ellenberger and Nicholson were also both active in the Charlotte Women’s Center in Dilworth, where work on the journal was also often performed.

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Pauli Murray became the first black woman ordained as an Episcopalian priest. According to the Park Service, Murray served on the 1961 Presidential Commission on the Status of Women and was a co-founder in 1966 of the National Organization for Women. An extensive exhibit on Murray, who according to the Park Service “described themself as having an ‘inverted sex instinct’ and identified as male in the context of her relationships, is currently on display as a part of the Levine Museum of the New South’s larger LGBTQ Perspectives on Equality history exhibit.

Several landmarks or places of historic moments are notably absent from the Park Service’s list of historic LGBT places in North Carolina. The Charlotte Women’s Center is one. Charlotte’s Scorpio, one of the longest-running LGBT bars in the state, is also missing. A Raleigh home once used as the headquarters of the Triangle Gay Alliance, perhaps the state’s earliest LGBT rights organization founded in 1971, is also absent from the list.

What LGBT historic sites in North Carolina do you think should be included? Tell us in the comment section below.

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You can also send your suggestions and comments to the National Park Service, which offers more detailed background on the process.

Learn more about the national LGBT historic landmarks project here.

Only five places in the U.S. with connections to LGBT history are currently designated as federal historic landmarks. Those properties include the Stonewall Inn in New York City, activist Frank Kameny’s home in Washington, D.C., the James Merrill House in Stonington, Conn., and two Fire Island properties: the Cherry Grove Community House and Theater and the Carrington House.

[Ed. Note — The original version of this article incorrectly identified the location of the Triangle Gay Alliance house. We have updated the story. We regret the error.]

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Posted by Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.