The Town of Princeville, North Carolina

Recover – Rebuild - Sustain

The Town of Princeville, North Carolina, the first town chartered by freed black slaves after the Civil War in 1886, struggles today (2018) to recover after recent devastating flood waters from Hurricane Matthew which ravaged the town in October 2016. It was just 17 years ago (1999) when the town was engulfed the first time by Hurricane Floyd, and together they had the strength and determination to recover, rebuild and persevere. Getting hit a second time has just been too overwhelming for this small town of 2,200 people. At a time where they are struggling, yet again, to recover the people of Princeville fear not only the permanent loss of their personal belongings and shelter but their very existence.

Princeville’s historical significance of being the first chartered town by freed black slaves is being threatened to be lost forever if this town and its people are unable to return and rebuild. In the words of Mayor Pro Temp Linda Joyner, “We’re not looking for a handout – We’re just looking for a hand.”


At the close of the Civil War, former slaves seeking protection and freedom left the plantations for Union troop encampments. Following the departure of Union soldiers, many of the now-freed slaves remained behind and settled in an area named Freedom Hill. Freedom Hill was incorporated in 1885 in Edgecombe County. The name was changed to Princeville in honor of Turner Prince, an African-American man who had been involved in building many of the community’s homes.


The Princeville Story

The Challenge

To establish a Princeville where residents’ pride, resilience, and determination is harnessed to recover, rebuild and sustain their town and their hope for a better future.

Success for Princeville where…

  • Residents return
  • Businesses are re-established and opened for business
  • Fire department is rebuilt and providing necessary services
  • Historic Mt. Zion Church is renovated and opened for worship
  • Community Center and museum are both renovated/relocated and receiving visitors
  • People/leadership of Princeville are engaged and organized
  • Economic and workforce development is viable & homegrown
  • History is alive & celebrated by tourism
  • Infrastructure is rebuilt and secure




  • FEMA performed an Environmental Assessment – Completed November 2017

  • FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) has been implemented and is currently being administered to help assist qualified residents repair, renovate or elevate their homes.

  • North Carolina Emergency Management and Hurricane Matthew Disaster Recovery & Resilience Initiative (HMDRRI) held a community-focused design workshop on August 25th – 29th to envision long-term planning options for the town development

  • 53 acres purchased from funds allocated from Hurricane Matthew destruction recovery

  • Town Hall is slated to be renovated this year

  • Development of a Princeville heritage tourism plan

  • Still identifying funding for implementation
    of the rebuild

  • Working to try and relocate or renovated rental
    housing options

  • Established an Advisory Board to develop a robust Princeville Recovery Team structure

  • Working to establish a 501c3

  • The Town’s communication reach is improved via social media and a new town website

  • Event Planning
    • Town Beautification Events are being scheduled and planned

    • Day of Hope on Sept 30th to observe the one year mark of Hurricane Matthew



As the Town of Princeville remains committed to rebuilding its historic town in the wake Hurricane Matthew in 2016, today (2018) some progress has been made, but the road to recovery is quite long, sometimes difficult and challenging. There is a need for more assistance to help lend a hand so the people of Princeville can feel whole again. With the help of a few organizations and carrying individuals we’ve made the following progress:

How you can help

There are many ways you can help The Town of Princeville recover, rebuild and sustain. You can make a tax-deductible donation, host a fundraiser, or exhibit our “Portraits of Humanity” in highly visible venues to help sustain the recovery efforts still going on today.


Some specific areas or recovery needing special attention include funding the reconstruction of a new fire department, community center, museum; rebuilding the historical Mt. Zion Church; and renovating the education buildings, schools and playgrounds.


  • Make a tax-deductible donation to the recovery and rebuilding efforts

  • Host a fundraiser to help raise needed funds to repair, rebuild and renovate destroyed town buildings like the museum, fire department, community center and the historical Mt. Zion Church

  • Exhibit the “Portraits of Humanity” – the story of Princeville told through the hearts and souls of those grounded in its roots, history, and resilience. If you are a university or institution, museum, gallery or airport with an exhibit space, please consider displaying the Town of Princeville “Portraits of Humanity” to help encourage greater involvement, bring broader awareness, and open doors to those influencers who can make a difference by placing the Town of Princeville into the minds of those who  are willing and able to lend a hand.


The North Carolina Community Foundation has established The Princeville Recovery and Revitalization Fund to support the recovery and rebuilding of the Town of Princeville. Please consider making a tax-deductible gift to support this endeavor.


To give by check, please make your check payable to
The Princeville Recovery and Revitalization Fund, and mail it to:

North Carolina Community Foundation

3737 Glenwood Avenue, Suite 460

Raleigh, NC  27612


To give by credit card, please visit us online by following this link:


When prompted: “Tell Us How to Apply Your Gift,” be sure to indicate: 
The Princeville Recovery and Revitalization Fund


Thank you for your support!


For more information, please contact:

Jamilla Hawkin

(336) 254-8239