By Maury York
This column usually focuses on the history of Franklin County and the Upper Tar River region, but this week I would like to invite readers to an important planning meeting.
Hosted by the Tar River Center for History and Culture (TRCHC) at Louisburg College, the session will take place on Thursday, Sept. 19, at 7:30 p.m. in the Police/Fire Training Center off of Wade Avenue in Louisburg.
During this 90-minute session, citizens from throughout the region will be asked to share their dreams. As director of the TRCHC, I sincerely want to know how you think the center can work with other organizations, schools, and individuals to promote knowledge of the area's rich heritage and to develop our cultural assets in a way that will improve the local economy.
Energetic groups have laid a solid foundation on which to build. Since moving back to Franklin County, I have been deeply impressed by this work.
Despite being told by a preservation professional in Raleigh that it could not be done, the people of Franklin County formed the Person Place Preservation Society and restored the Person Place as a showplace for all to enjoy.
The Franklin County Arts Council, through its Quilt Trails of the Tar River project, art shows, and classes, enriches the lives of many.
Local historians and genealogists benefit greatly from two important books published by the Heritage Society of Franklin County.
The Ben Franklin Society raises money to support valuable research projects, including Dr. Peggy McGhee's colonial kitchen and garden - an extraordinary learning tool for underprivileged school children.
Educational institutions have been in the vanguard of preservation efforts. Louisburg College has invested a great amount of resources to preserve and restore the historic buildings that make up the campus of the oldest two-year college in America.
Further, the College recently expanded its efforts to include restoration of the historic Arthur Person house on the edge of campus for use as a student residence.
Local citizens recently banded together to restore the Franklin County Training School ("The Porch Building") and have it nominated to the National Register of Historic Places.
Another group will soon win a statewide award for its outstanding work to rehabilitate the historic Perry School near Centerville.
What are the building blocks we can place on this foundation?
The history of the region, including the story of native Americans, reflects many important statewide and national themes. Courthouse and census records, newspaper files, maps, manuscripts, and other resources are readily available to bring our past to life.
Nearly 40 properties in Franklin County, and many more in the region, are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Louisburg has carefully developed an extensive historic district that reflects trends in architecture, from Georgian to Art Moderne, and the towns of Bunn, Franklinton, and Youngsville also have important architectural assets. Many additional historic properties in Franklin County are waiting to be discovered.
The Tar River and the region's beautiful landscape provide an inspiring context for it all.
Americans today crave the opportunity to connect with their history and culture. Witness the success of Colonial Williamsburg.
But Williamsburg is in large part a reconstruction of the past. Here we have the real thing, to learn from and to develop. On Thursday, Sept. 19, please come and share your vision for how this can be done.
Published in The Franklin Times on September 12, 2013.
Maury York is director of the Tar River Center for History and Culture at Louisburg College.