Sample mini-assignment: House in the Horseshoe

Here is a sample mini-assignment. It combines reality with the imaginative use of the language and forms of the mission and strategic planning material you read.

House in the Horseshoe State Historic Site is located in rural Moore County, North Carolina. It is ten miles from the county seat at Carthage, twenty-one miles from Sanford, and an hour away from the Research Triangle Park and Piedmont Triad metropolitan areas containing Raleigh, Durham, and Greensboro. Chatham, Moore, and Lee Counties have a combined population (2014) of 221,437. Twenty two percent are under eighteen and twenty percent are over 65. Thirteen percent of that population is African-American while thirteen percent are Hispanic or Latino. Fourteen percent live below the poverty line. Five middle schools and three high schools serve 4,944 students in Moore County. The largest employers are health care services, food service, and retail trades. Both Siler City and Sanford have Latino populations higher (<%20) than the average (%8.39) in municipalities.

Moore, Lee, and Chatham are served by a variety of small and private museums, including the Carthage Museum, the Malcolm Blue Farm & Museum, the Chatham County Museum, and the Railroad House Museum in Sanford. House in the Horseshoe is a unit of North Carolina State Historic Sites, is operated by three permanent staff and volunteers, is supported by allocated funds, and has a support group that plans annual events. The site commemorates a 1781 Revolutionary War skirmish between Whig and loyalist militia. The site is also responsible for the preservation and development of the Endor Iron Furnace site in Chatham County.

House in the Horseshoe has internal and external needs. Internally, it needs to increase visitation rates twenty five percent over the next five years (from 13,000 to 16,250). It also needs to become a recognized historical resource for the Moore, Lee, and Chatham County areas. External needs are unarticulated, but likely include service to school groups, and the need to address regional demographic and economic changes in this rural area, particularly in Siler City and Sanford.

House in the Horseshoe is much more than a Revolutionary War skirmish site, but the anchor in the story of how Piedmont North Carolina changed over time. Philip Alston, builder of the house, represented wealthy easterners and slaveholders that replaced backcountry yeoman at the time of the Revolution. Benjamin Williams, subsequent owner, brought the property into the larger commercial world with a switch to cotton farming and large scale slaveownership. The Endor site represents antebellum North Carolina’s efforts to diversify its economy with industrial development. With this larger interpretive vision, House in the Horseshoe can expand the scope of its on-site historic programming (tours, special events, speakers, etc.), and speak to demographic and economic transformations in the region. On site, expanding the story will mean utilizing the site beyond tours of the house itself, but methods that encompass fields, possible sites of slave quarters, and the banks of the Deep River. Because of its remote location, however, visitation will be limited. House in the Horseshoe will create collaborations with nearby institutions to host events and programming off site. For instance, it may co-sponsor programming on industrial development at the Railroad House Museum in Sanford, a history book club at the Chatham County Museum in Pittsboro, or exhibits on the experience of enslaved people at the International Civil Rights Museum in Greensboro. Additionally, a robust social media campaign will draw and engage visitors who cannot actually get to the site.

This expanded interpretive mission, supported by on-and off-site programming, will require the support of a renovated support group with members with business and cultural contacts, skills in development, and time to give. This initiative will increase not only visitation but also increase House in the Horseshoe’s profile as a historic resource in the piedmont region.


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