Monica T. Davis Shares Her Experience with "We Built This" Exhibit on Opening Night

Monica T Davis

Thursday, February 2, 2023 marked the official opening of the “We Built This: Profiles of Black Architects & Builders” exhibit in the JPAC’s Holt Lobby. Presented by Preservation North Carolina, it will be available for viewing the entire month of February in celebration of Black History Month. The exhibit showcases the history and legacy of Black builders in North Carolina.

During opening night, R.O.C.K. Foundation founder Monica T. Davis gave a few remarks about the exhibit. Davis, who has worked relentlessly to preserve Black-built constructions in her hometown of Wilson, NC, spoke about the importance of celebrating and showcasing the architects at the program. 

Davis’ work began when she started to look into the shotgun houses in Wilson. When she realized that many of the constructions were disappearing due to environmental factors, lack of upkeep, and demolitions, she decided that the homes needed to be preserved. So, Davis began the R.O.C.K. Foundation, which has saved seven of the remaining shotgun houses. 

“I was trying to figure out what was going on [with the houses],” Davis explained. “So, with that, we have been working to educate people about the houses and their history.”

Davis and Preservation NC, the host organization, have had a close relationship with one another since her time in Graduate school at UNC-Greensboro. Davis believes that being able to speak at this exhibit and for Louisburg College to host it is very important. She spoke about a Louisburg native that is displayed, Merlyn Macon.

“He was a brick mason, and he learned that from his father,” Davis explained. “So learning that these craftsmen were passed from generation to generation shows an abundance of knowledge that I think everybody should know.”

Merlyn Macon, Waller Freeman, Joe Welcome, and many other Black architects and craftspeople, all from North Carolina, have their biographies and works displayed in the exhibit.

Thank you to the Tar River Center for History and Culture for sponsoring the event.