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NC's Latta Plantation May Be Renovated Before Reopening, Mecklenburg County Says

Carol M. Highsmith Archive
Library of Congress
Latta Plantation

New landscaping, fences, repairs and renovations could be coming to Latta Plantation in Huntersville as Mecklenburg County draws up plans for the historic site's reopening.

The 16-acre site was closed in June amid an uproar over a planned Juneteenth event that was advertised with historical language many found offensive. The event promised stories from "the massa himself" and other "white refugees" and share how they felt about the "downfall of the Confederacy."

Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Director W. Lee Jones told county commissioners Tuesday night that the county was now working on a plan to reopen the site "with the goal of compassion, inclusion and equity at the forefront."

Jones did not say when the site might be reopened but told commissioners that his department would like to make renovations and improvements to the property before welcoming the public back.

Those include new gravel for the site's parking lot, new security cameras and alarms, internet access and restoration work on many historic buildings. The restoration work would include new windows and repairs to the exterior of the carriage house, foundation work on the Alexander Cabin, and repairs to the Latta house, the exterior kitchen and the meat house.

The repairs and site improvements are estimated to cost about $312,000, Jones said. He plans to present a formal budget request to commissioners at their January retreat.

Jones also said the county will work with a group of community partners to come up with a new operating plan for the site.

He said the group will study archival documents and conduct research on how other historic plantations are run elsewhere in the country.

Community partners chosen for the project include Corine Mack with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg NAACP and local historians and researchers with the Mint Museum, Levine Museum of the New South, UNC Charlotte, Johnson C. Smith University and the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.

The county is also looking for a new entity to manage the property after it ended its contract with Latta Place Inc. in June over the controversial "Kingdom Coming" event.

At Tuesday's meeting, Commissioner Elaine Powell asked whether the county's Park and Recreation department could manage the property instead of an outside entity, but Jones said that was unlikely due to staff limitations.

Jones said the county is preparing to release more information in the coming weeks and launch a "public input website" where residents can share their thoughts sometime before the end of the month.

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Nick de la Canal is the host of Weekend Edition on Saturday/Sunday mornings, and a reporter covering breaking news, arts and culture, and general assignment stories. His work frequently appears on air and online. Periodically, he tweets: @nickdelacanal