UNCG Campus Weekly

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Michael Frierson captures Greensboro history and preservation

Photo of Michael FriersonThursday, Nov. 15, professor of media studies Michael Frierson will screen “Cascade: Caring for a Place,” a short documentary about the preservation of the Cascade Saloon, one of the oldest remaining historical buildings in Greensboro.

The screening will take place inside the building that was the Cascade Saloon, which is now an office of The Christman Company, renowned preservationists who carried out the renovation. It is the first historic adaptive re-use project they have completed in Greensboro, though a unique partnership with the City of Greensboro and Preservation Greensboro.

The building stands beside the railroad tracks and has an odd shape, not exactly rectangular and yet not triangular. It was built in 1895 and the business was operated by an African American couple, Wiley and Ida Weaver, in 1907, which was highly unusual for a white business district in the South.

old Greensboro“It’s a keystone building for downtown Greensboro, and it really connects the south side of main street to the north side,” says Frierson about the building. “It’s really amazing that these partners were able to save it. A lot of people said it couldn’t be saved, but they did it and stuck with it.”

The building had been empty for decades, and the film shows its slow transformation from a decaying, abandoned shell to a vibrant workplace.

“It’s a really positive story for Greensboro,” says Frierson. “I really got to love the building.”

Cascade Saloon building

Among Frierson’s past historical film projects are a documentary on New Orleans photographer Clarence John Laughlin and “FBI KKK,” a documentary about his father who was an FBI agent in Greensboro. Frierson is also the author of the award-winning “Clay Animation: American Highlights 1908 to the Present” and “Film and Video Editing Theory: How Editing Creates Meaning.” He has taught in the Department of Media Studies since 1989, and since 2012 he has guided students through the production of the films that accompany the UNCG Faculty Staff Excellence Awards ceremony.

Frierson’s colleague, Lecturer in Media Studies Kevin Wells, and student Eric Dobbins shot footage for “Cascade: Caring for a Place.” Media Studies student Sarah Seyler assisted with the editing of a historical sequence in the film.

Michael Frierson

The film is 18 minutes long and there will be two screenings on Nov. 15, at 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. The former Cascade Saloon where the film will be shown is located at 408 S. Elm St. Reservations will be open to the general public on and after Thursday, Nov. 8. Contact Preservation Greensboro by email (jkastner@preservationgreensboro.org) or phone 336-272-5003 to reserve a seat. Watch the trailer for the film here.

To see more photographs of the building and restoration process visit the UNCG Now post here.

By Susan Kirby-Smith
Photography by Martin W. Kane