Copyright notice

This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

Printer-friendly page

Cannon Award

by T. Harry Gatton, 2006

Adelaide Lisetta Fries, winner of a 1948 Cannon Award. Image from Digital Forsythe.The Ruth Coltrane Cannon Award, North Carolina's most prestigious award for historic preservation achievement, was established by Ruth Coltrane Cannon and her husband, Charles A. Cannon, in 1948. The North Carolina Society for the Preservation of Antiquities originally administered the award, and for many years playwright Paul Green made the formal presentation on behalf of Dr. Douglas L. Rights, winner of a 1948 Cannon Award for his work on 'The Records of the Moravians in North Carolina.'the society. Recipients' names are engraved on a silver bowl prominently displayed in the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh, and engraved silver replicas of a Revolutionary War camp cup are given to winners.

In 1974 the North Carolina Society for the Preservation of Antiquities changed its name to the Historic Preservation Society of North Carolina, Inc. A restructuring in 1984 prompted another name change to the Historic Preservation Foundation of North Carolina, Inc. Popularly known as Preservation North Carolina, the organization continues to administer the Cannon Awards. From 1948 to 1982, a total of 161 awards were given to individuals and organizations, but since 1982 only a single Cannon Award is given each year.

The first Cannon Award winners in 1948 were Gertrude Carraway, C. Christopher Crittenden, Inglis Fletcher, Adelaide Fries, Paul Green, Archibald Henderson, Mrs. J. E. Latham, Douglas L. Rights, and Charles Lee Smith. The list of subsequent winners includes Kathryn Page Cloud, Marie W. Colton, Marion Stedman Covington, Chalmers G. Davidson, Cecil B. DeMille, Gordon Gray, James A. Gray, John Sprunt Hill, A. L. Honeycutt Jr., Mrs. Ernest Ives, H. G. Jones, Joye E. Jordan, Margaret M. Kluttz, Kay Kyser, Hugh T. Lefler, Jeanelle C. Moore, Clarence Poe, William S. Powell, William S. Price Jr., John L. Sanders, Virginia S. Stevens., Robert E. Stipe, and Banks C. Talley Jr.


David L. S. Brook, A Lasting Gift of Heritage: A History of the North Carolina Society for the Preservation of Antiquities, 1939-1974 (1997).

Additional Resources:

Wegner, Ansley Herring. "The North Carolina Society for the Preservation of Antiquities and the Modern Preservation Movement." North Carolina Office of Archives & History. 2004. (accessed October 16, 2012).

"Preservation NC Honor Award Winners Complete List." Preservation North Carolina.

Image Credits:

"Adelaide Lisetta Fries (1871-1949)," Photo Courtesy of Digital Forsyth. Available from (accessed October 16, 2012).

"Photograph, Accession #: H.1957.65.5." Circa 1950-1957. North Carolina Museum of History.