This past weekend, I had a chance to visit Latta Plantation, in Mecklenburg County, near Huntersville. For whatever reasons, it was my first visit to Latta.
Latta was built ca.1800 by an Irish immigrant, James Latta. During the Civil War years, the property was owned by the Sample family. The house was preserved in the 1970s, was opened to the public in the mid-1970s, and is now a part of the Latta Plantation Nature Preserve.
No, there were no great battles fought on the grounds, nor were there bodies of Confederate generals laid out on the porch. There were several sons of William Sample who joined the 53rd North Carolina Troops. But for the most part, the War passed by Latta Plantation.
But what we do have is a pristine historic site in a fantastic location. According to its web site, "In addition to daily tours, Latta offers 35 special events each year, five themed summer day camps, homeschool programs, workshops, educational field trips, and daily tours year-round. The 12,000 school children that visit the site annually are able to participate in unique interactive historical programming, visit rare and endangered breeds of historic livestock, see the process of growing short-staple cotton first hand, visit our honeybee exhibit, and much more!"
Despite Latta Plantation's importance in both education and tourism, the Mecklenburg County Commissioners are moving to cut funding to the site. In an area already seriously lacking in historically relevant tourism and educational opportunities, the county wants to cut the one really good site that it has. What's next? Rosedale Plantation? The Mint Museum? The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts and Culture? Surly not, you might argue. But remember, history is apparently no longer important.
Charlotte and Mecklenburg County are rich in history: from the Hezekiah Alexander House at the almost-defunct Charlotte Museum of History to the Confederate Naval Complex to the World War I Camp Greene. Yet no one, especially the elected leaders in Mecklenburg County, seems to care.
The one and only bright spot is the Library Walk, which details a fifteen-stop walking tour connected to the Revolutionary War in downtown Charlotte.
No apologies are going to be made for the amount of time that I have spent lately on encouraging you to contact your elected officials and ask them to preserve our history. The funding for Latta Plantation does not need to be cut. Instead, it should be increased.
Also, please consider signing this petition here.
Folks, we are really being shortchanged reagrding our history here in North Carolina. If you do not stand up and fight for it, who will?