Meet the Team

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Meet the Team

Samantha Smith, Founder/Principal Consultant

Samantha Smith is a historic preservation and public history professional based in North Carolina. As Founder/Principal of Gate City Preservation, Samantha blends her experience in historic preservation, public history, and community engagement with her passion for sustainability, affordable housing, and place activation to revive and renew historic places to serve modern needs.

Along with her work researching and writing local landmark reports, National Register nominations, and Historic Tax Credit applications, Samantha works with museums and cultural institutions to come up with innovative and creative ways to activate historic spaces. She is currently developing a new strategic plan for Blandwood Museum in Greensboro, North Carolina, and has previous experience managing Historic Bethabara Park and serving as Director of Community Engagement and Digital Learning at Old Salem Museums & Gardens, both in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. At Old Salem, Samantha started and grew a TikTok account, @oldsaleminc, with over 2 million likes and 310,000 followers.

Samantha is President of the College Hill Neighborhood Association, the local historic district where she lives, and Secretary of Preservation Action, a national-level advocacy organization. She also volunteers with Triad Cultural Arts, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving two endangered shotgun houses in Happy Hill, a historic freedmen’s village in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Laura Clifton, Interior Architect

Laura Clifton is an interior architect and passionate historic preservationist based in High Point, NC. After a brief stint as a high school English teacher, Laura realized a career change was in order and decided to pursue both a BFA in Interior Architecture and a Historic Preservation Certificate from UNCG. Her interests lie in the preservation of both historic structures and the skilled trades utilized in their initial construction and ongoing care. By day, Laura works as a designer for an architecture firm specializing in the adaptive reuse of historic industrial manufacturing campuses and by night can be found tackling various restoration projects at the early 20th century brick Craftsman home she shares with her wife, Lindsey, and two rescue pups, Maggie and Harvey.

Monica T. Davis, Interior Architect

Monica Davis is an interior architect designer and avid preservationist.  Monica is the owner and principal designer of Rinascita Designs, LLC, an interior architecture firm that specializes in the rehabilitation and restoration of historic structures. Her passions lie in the celebration and education of African American historic districts and communities. Monica’s field experience began in Eastern North Carolina, where she obtained historic shotgun houses in a declining African American Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988. Her passion for the preservation of this community led to the founding of Rebirthing Our Cultural Kingdom Foundation (R.O.C.K.), a nonprofit organization where she spearheaded and facilitated workshops on the cultural heritage of historic districts, architectural terminology, building techniques, and hands-on craftsman skills. Her completion and understanding of Historic Tax Credit applications influenced her decision to revitalize local communities and reposition the shotgun as a suitable, affordable, and environmentally friendly solution for contemporary housing needs. 

Robert Lyerly, Archaeologist

Robert Lyerly is an archaeologist and historian located in Durham, NC, and originally from Winston-Salem, NC. He received his Masters degree in Anthropology from the University of South Carolina and two Bachelor’s degrees in History and Archaeology from UNC-Chapel Hill. He has a background in cultural resources management, and has worked for several firms, which has helped to solidify his background research and laboratory skills. He has a passion for prehistoric archaeological research, but also enjoys engaging the public about the history around them. In his free time, he enjoys reading, visiting archaeological sites, and watching UNC sports with his fiance.

Rebecca Barefoot, Public Historian

Rebecca Barefoot is the owner and principal consultant of Century Preservation Services, LLC, a historic preservation consultancy aimed at connecting people to their historic built environment. Century Preservation Services specializes in Local Landmark Nomination Applications. Rebecca’s passion and knowledge for historic preservation grew with Preservation Greensboro, Inc. where she volunteers as an Urban Guide to lead Greensboro residents across their city to uncover their past in the built environment. Rebecca’s degrees: a Masters in Public History from NC State, two Bachelor’s degrees from UNCG in History and Anthropology, with a minor in Archaeology created the foundation for her thorough research skills. She is currently pursuing a Historic Preservation Certificate at UNCG.

Sonya Laney, Public Historian

Sonya Laney is a public historian based in Greensboro, NC. She received her Bachelors in History from NC State and a Masters in History with a concentration in Museum Studies from UNC Greensboro. She has previously worked with Guilford Courthouse National Military Park and the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History. Currently, she is the Education Coordinator at the Charlotte Hawkins Brown Museum and State Historic Site in Sedalia, NC, as well as serves on the North Carolina Museums Council board. When not at a museum or historic site, she can be found exploring local breweries with her fiancé or reading with her furry companions, Jack and Indy. 

Rosemarie DiGiorgio, Bookkeeper

Rosemarie DiGiorgio is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and Certified Scrum Master (SCM) who assists consultants at Gate City Preservation with a variety of projects, including client engagement, product delivery, financial record keeping, and data analysis.


What qualifies my building for the National Register of Historic Places or as a Local Landmark?

Typically, in order to qualify for designation, a building or other property must be at least 50 years old, must retain a high degree of integrity, and must have historic significance. For example, the building could have played an important role in local, state, or national history, or it could be an excellent example of an architectural style.

What is the National Register of Historic Places?

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the nation’s historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America’s historic and archeological resources.

There are National Register districts, of which your property could be listed as “contributing” or “noncontributing,” as well as individually listed properties. The National Register is an honorific title that may enable you to receive tax credits for rehabilitation or restoration projects in the state of North Carolina. If your property is listed on the National Register, you will not be required to follow any guidelines or rules.

What happens if my property is listed on the National Register?

In addition to honorific recognition, listing on the National Register has the following results for historic properties:

  • Consideration in planning for federal, federally licensed, and federally assisted projects: Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 requires that Federal agencies allow the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation an opportunity to comment on all projects affecting historic properties either listed in or determined eligible for listing in the National Register. The Advisory Council oversees and ensures the consideration of historic properties in the federal planning process.
  • Eligibility for certain tax provisions: Owners of properties listed on the National Register may be eligible for investment tax credits for the certified rehabilitation of their historic home or commercial, industrial, or rental property. The amount of credit depends on if the property is residential or income-producing (commercial, industrial, or rental residential buildings). Federal tax deductions are also available for charitable contributions for conservation purposes of partial interests in historically important land areas or structures.
  • Qualification for federal grants for historic preservation, when funds are available: Owners of private property listed in the National Register are free to maintain, manage, or dispose of their property as they choose provided that no federal monies are involved.

What happens if my property becomes a Local Landmark?

The easiest answer is that it depends on your local government. Local designation can be a powerful tool in preserving a community’s historic resources. In some municipalities, owners of locally designated landmarks must present their plans before a review board prior to making exterior changes. The severity of these changes depends on the Design Guidelines and by-laws of the local body, and differ greatly by location.

Please note, it is rare for these guidelines to dictate changes like exterior paint color. They mostly deal with additions, demolition, new construction, and other permanent changes that would alter the integrity of the property. Exteriors can always be repainted, but a large addition to the back of the house that destroys the original historic fabric cannot be reversed easily. The authority of the review board depends on the powers given to it in the municipality’s preservation ordinance. Some boards are only advisory, while others have the authority to review virtually any alteration. Most fall somewhere in between.

What can I do to ensure my property is protected from harm or demolition in perpetuity?

If your property is the listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it could be demolished tomorrow with virtually no repercussions. Local designations provide the highest level of protection for historic properties. If you want to protect the property further, you can work with an organization like Preservation North Carolina to sell a conservation easement.

What tax credits are available to me?

Tax credits in North Carolina change frequently. It depends on the type of property you own, what you plan to do to the property, and the county’s current tier, along with the amount of money you plan to spend. Contact Samantha for a free consultation about the tax credit process. Request a free consultation via email today:

What if I just want to learn more about the history of my house and the people who lived there?

Gate City Preservation L.L.C also provides historic property and genealogical research. If you are a curious homeowner or working on a personal project, we can help you reveal the history of your home and the people who lived there. Request a free consultation via email today: