Vance Birthplace: Goodbye, For Now

Posted by | April 8, 2013

Please welcome guest author Kevin McGuire. McGuire has had a thirty-five-year career as a woodworker, and has spent twenty years authoring woodworking project titles, most recently The All-New Woodworking for Kids. A western North Carolina resident, he enjoys fly fishing the mountain streams, and is passionate about the historic preservation of the state he loves.


The North Carolina legislature is poised to shut down five historic sites as a part of ongoing budget cuts in Raleigh, including the Zebulon B. Vance Birthplace near Weaverville.

Governor Pat McCrory has signaled his intention to sign the state budget and the closure proposal if approved by the Republican-controlled legislature, a likely outcome in a broad effort to mandate savings in every area of government- except for governor McCrory’s cabinet members and house speaker Thom Tillis’ staff, whose salaries were immediately increased following the November 2012 elections.

Vance birthplace. Courtesy Kevin McGuire.

Vance birthplace. Images courtesy, a North Carolina state agency.

Office of Archives and History deputy secretary Kevin Cherry expressed regret about the closures. “We’re basically holding ground until times are a little better,” he said. “It was a very tough decision, I will tell you, picking the sites that will go dormant.” Closure at Vance would leave just one staff person maintaining the site, which would be available for occasional events only.

The sites to be mothballed were selected based on geographical region and utilization by the public, among other criteria. Although not the most-visited historic site, Vance Birthplace is a big draw for area schoolchildren and family outings, where visitors learn about the history of Zebulon Baird Vance, state  governor and senator, and the traditional folkways of the late-1700’s homestead. Youngsters are delighted to try their hand at vintage tools, pore over artifacts, and roam the extensive property located just minutes north of Asheville, Western North Carolina’s largest city.

Vance birthplace 2

Carl Silverstein, executive director of the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, is concerned about maintaining protective easements around the Vance property should the site be closed.

The budget’s language states that “While the sites will be closed to the public, the sites will be maintained and preserved.”

Which poses the question: how do we celebrate- and value- an extraordinary historic property as a hands-on teaching tool if it is off-limits to the people who ultimately fund it’s preservation?

Click here to contact NC Dept of Cultural Resources

For more info: Raleigh News-Observer article on McCrory cabinet salary increases

Raleigh News-Observer article on Tillis staff salary raises



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