New preservation board chair loves her historic neighborhood

New preservation board chair loves her historic neighborhood
Nancy Powell takes a moment to enjoy the porch swing at the Buckland House, headquarters for Riverside Avondale Preservation.

Who’s your neighbor? Midwest native Nancy Powell grew up in an 1888 Victorian home.

Although having lived in one historic home or another for nearly all her life is not a criteria for Riverside Avondale Preservation board membership, it doesn’t hurt that new board chair Nancy Powell developed a deep appreciation for historic structures from any early age and loves living most of her adult life in a home built in 1928 in historic Avondale.

Q. You grew up in the Midwest. When did you move to Jacksonville and where were you in between historic homes?

A. I grew up in Hinsdale, a historic town outside Chicago, in an 1888 Victorian house which was torn down in 2015. I spent my post-college life in historic cities such as Providence, Rhode Island, Boston and Charlottesville. Ted and I moved to Jacksonville in 1990 from New York City, and first lived out at the beach, then we found a wonderful 1928 brick home on Challen Avenue, a few homes up from the St. Johns River, and are still here 27 years later. The home had been renovated prior to our arrival, but now that our three children are (finally!) educated and in their mid-20s, we are hoping to do some more substantial updating.

Q.  You have a Bachelor of Arts in comparative literature from Brown University and an MBA from The Darden School at the University of Virginia. Where did those degrees take you?

A.  My early career was in corporate marketing with large companies such as American Express, AT&T Universal Card, and MediaOne (now Comcast). Then from 2007 to 2017, I was vice president of operations and marketing for Stop At Nothing, a leadership consulting firm in Jacksonville Beach. I have begun project-based consulting and am very happy not to be commuting to the beach along Butler Boulevard, and to engage more here in Riverside, Avondale and the Downtown Core.

Q.  How and when did you first get involved with Riverside Avondale Preservation?

A.  I always appreciated the Historic District, but was busy working, raising kids and volunteering with schools and sports, so I did not become involved with RAP until 2014. I had attended some of the community meetings around the large projects, and had been impressed with how RAP sought in a professional way to balance the interests of the residents and businesses. When Doug Coleman tapped me on the shoulder and said, “I’d like to nominate you for the board,” I agreed. 

Q.  What are some of your priorities as new RAP board chair?

A. Obviously, our first goal as a board is to hire a new executive director. We will also finish our strategic plan, and will continue to find ways to celebrate our neighborhood with programs such as Riverside Arts Market, First Fridays, Home Tour and Luminaria. I am committed to more frequent dialogue and communication, and to provide the community opportunities for education on topics of interest. Finally, we will encourage continued grass roots innovation and engagement. RAP cannot and does not do everything; our neighborhood is the result of many people in different places caring and stepping up to make a positive difference. 

Q.  Where might readers run into you in the neighborhood?

A. In our spare time, Ted and I love to walk and bike the neighborhood, go to Riverside Arts Market on a Saturday, meet friends for coffee or dinner, play tennis, and make plans to do some renovations to our house (which has a long-standing wish list.)

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