Mecklenburg County officials are closing in on a plan that could see the former Latta Plantation reopen with a greater emphasis on slavery and its lasting impact.
According to a document published to the county’s website, three options are under consideration:
Option A would reopen the site for “breakthrough research and scholarship.” A new visitor center would house a research center “for the ongoing study of this site and slavery in Mecklenburg County.”
Option B would create “multiple areas for ongoing reflection” – spaces where visitors can confront “the trauma at this site, the legacy of slavery, and the healing process that our nation and communities are continuing to go through.”
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Option C would “immerse visitors in the story by providing living history demonstrations and select exhibit spaces that include interactives, tactile components, and first-person perspectives.”
Included in all three plans are various elements such as interactive exhibits, a visitors center, guided tours and educational displays,
The updated options for the Huntersville site, now called Latta Place, were first reported by The Charlotte Observer.
In each of the options, more emphasis would be placed on the lives of the enslaved, with public tours beginning at the 18th century Alexander House, not the main Latta House, which was home to the site’s slaveholders. In one scenario, the Latta House would be closed to the public.
Latta Plantation has been closed since the summer of 2021, when controversy arose over plans for a Juneteenth event that, according to critics, was sympathetic to the views and sentiments of slaveholders who had lost their human property. The county severed tied with the nonprofit organization that once managed the site and planned the Juneteenth event. The county later renamed the site Latta Place.
In an effort to reimagine and reopen the former plantation site, the county has contracted with DesignMinds Inc. of Fairfax, Va. The company has worked with museums and historic sites nationwide, including:
- the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History + Culture in Washington, D.C.
- the Museum of Mississippi History in Jackson, the state capital
- the U.S. Memorial Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C.
- and the Charles Pinckney National Historic Site in Mount Pleasant, S.C.
County officials also have met with stakeholder groups to get input.
According to the Observer, which spoke with Lee Jones, the county’s Park and Recreation directory, the site’s final redesign will likely include elements from all three options – A, B and C.
Also under consideration is a new name. Options include:
- Mecklenburg Legacy Center
- Latta Education and Cultural Center
- Mecklenburg Center for Historical Research
- Mecklenburg Center for the Study of Slavery
A final proposal could be submitted this spring to Mecklenburg’s Board of County Commissioners. Once a plan is approved, the site is expected to reopen in phases.
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