Over the past ten years, downtown Kinston has experienced a renaissance. Kinston is the centerpiece of the African American Music Trail (AAMT), a project of N.C. Arts Council that celebrates Eastern North Carolina’s transformative figures in the history of jazz, gospel, and popular music. Visitors can learn more at the Kinston Music Park, located at the Queen Street entranceway. 

In 2008, local developer Stephen Hill restored an abandoned historic building to Mother Earth Brewing Company, the first brewery in the U.S. to be awarded LEED Gold certification. Two years earlier, Chef Vivian Howard had returned home from New York to open the Chef & the Farmer restaurant, featured in the PBS award-winning show A Chef’s Life. The historic Mitchelltown neighborhood is part of Kinston’s Arts and Cultural District, and Stephen 
Hill has renovated more than 60 houses into affordable artist studios and residences. 

The community selected public artist Vicki Scuri to design a trail to enhance Queen street from the Kinston Arts Council to the Kinston Music Park, and connect to the River Arts Walk and the Arts and Cultural District.


  • Many new galleries, restaurants, and bars, as well as a boutique hotel, a distillery, and the Mother Earth Motor Lodge have opened contributing to more than $40 million in private investment in downtown. 
  • More than $600,000 has been raised from national and state foundations including the National Endowment for the Arts Our Town Program and the Educational Foundation of America.
  • The Kinston Music Park has hosted several free concerts featuring African American musicians from the region.


To create the Kinston SmART Corridor that will activate and enhance cultural connectivity, economic vitality, and walkability along the streets and pathways of downtown and reflect the unique characteristics and identity of Kinston.


SmART Kinston Foundation
City of Kinston
Community Council for the Arts Kinston.