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LGBTQIA+ Historic Context Study

Discovering Important Places

The Raleigh Historic Development Commission is preparing a historic context report to identify places important to LGBTQIA+ history and culture in Raleigh. The final report will include a list of significant historic places (both existing and lost). It will also include a short history of Raleigh's LGBTQIA+ communities. Finally, it will recommend buildings and sites that are eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.

Thanks to those who attended the community meeting in June. Please visit the kickoff summary page to view the presentation slides and sign up to be alerted about future community meetings.

Project Details

Historic Preservation
Date Range:
Project Lead:
Tania Georgiou Tully
Jeffrey “Free” Harris


  • Community meeting to introduce the project. (Completed virtually on October 14, 2021, & in person on June 22, 2022)
  • Document research. (Ongoing)
  • Ten oral history interviews. (Ongoing)
  • Community meeting to provide project updates (Completed October 19, 2022)
  • Draft report reviewed by the Raleigh Historic Development Commission. (Anticipated Winter 2023)
  • Community meeting to share the results of the study. (TBD)


Part of the Raleigh Historic Development Commission’s (RHDC) mission is to identify and recommend properties and neighborhoods for historic designation. This includes Raleigh Historic Landmarks, Raleigh Historic Overlay Districts, and National Register designation. Broad citywide updates to the architectural survey and targeted context studies identify properties. Previous context reports prepared include Kit Homes and the Method Community

In response to a citizen request, RHDC reviewed existing historic designations and found that the LGBTQIA+ community lacks representation. There are no properties related to Raleigh’s LGBTQIA+ history listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Additionally, there is not a developed context for evaluating potential historic resources.

In 2019, RHDC staff issued an informal Request for Proposals for the preparation of a context. The budget is $10,000. Funds are from the Planning and Development budget targeted for historic reports and surveys. A consultant was hired in the fall of 2019. After COVID related delays, the project has restarted.

What is a Historic Context Study?

  • Identifies places important to a specific community, architect, or cultural event.
  • Includes a list of known significant historic places (both existing and lost) and a short history.
  • Recommends buildings and sites that are eligible for historic designation.
  • Provides a way to evaluate places discovered later.

Meet the Consultant, Jeffrey 'Free' Harris

Jeffrey ‘Free’ Harris is a Hampton, VA-based historian and historic preservation consultant who works with preservation organizations, historic sites, non-profit organizations, and academic institutions on issues related to diversity and historic site interpretations.  Free’s past clients include the National Park Service, Hanbury Preservation Consulting, the Raleigh Historic Development Commission, the Nevada Preservation Foundation, and Heritage Ohio, Inc. He currently serves on the Virginia Board of Historic Resources, and he is also the current Board Chair of the Rainbow Heritage Network. In a past life, Harris served as the first Director for Diversity of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. He contributed the chapter "'Where We Could Be Ourselves’: African American LGBTQ Historic Places and Why They Matter" for the National Park Service’s LGBTQ Heritage Theme Study.