Dena R. Diorio is Mecklenburg county manager.
Dear Residents of Mecklenburg County,
One of the most rewarding aspects of my job as County Manager is to work on projects that have a great impact on the community in which we live and serve.
For more than 200 years, Latta Place, formerly known as Historic Latta Plantation, in Huntersville has stood as a marker of the 1800s, offering a glimpse into 19th century life and livelihood in the Carolinas.
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Last June, Mecklenburg County opted not to renew its contract with Historic Latta Inc, the nonprofit responsible for operating and maintaining the Huntersville site since the 1970s.
The change in management presented Mecklenburg County with a very unique opportunity by allowing us to revisit the site’s past and its ties to the community – while reexamining its current purpose and value to the people we serve.
The change in management has opened the door for reinvention of the site – not by denying its painful past – but by allowing for a space to share its history from a sensitive, unbiased frame of reference for those seeking knowledge and understanding.
Last summer, Mecklenburg County closed the site to the public and began the process of creating a new chapter in its history.
Since closing the site, we have developed a framework for the project consisting of three phases: Discovery, Blueprinting and Implementation.
During the Discovery phase, we formed a committee comprising County staff, local historians, professors, museum professionals and other community partners to join us in this work. This partnership allows us to be intentional in every decision and aspect of the project.
In December, we conducted a public survey designed to gather input from you, the residents of Mecklenburg County.
We also drafted a mission statement to help focus our work. The mission statement evolved from peer research and feedback from the public and includes 5 key guiding principles: Truth, Transparency, Compassion, Transformation and Unity. We believe that it is our duty to tell the truth and provide an experience that is not only educational but offers an opportunity for introspection and awareness.
The Blueprinting phase will begin this spring with the development of an Interpretative Master Plan. The Interpretative Master Plan will be executed by an outside vendor. The goal of the plan is to help develop interpretative themes and a timeline for implementation.
The Blueprinting phase will also include archival research and story collection from key descendants identified as having ties to Latta Place.
The final phase, Implementation, will begin in Fiscal Year 2023 and will conclude with the reopening of the site to the public.
The work taking place at Latta Place involves more than just changing its name. What began as a change in management has evolved into a journey of retrospection and healing. This project has afforded all involved a chance to revisit the past with hopes of reshaping the future while working to maintain the integrity and value of the stories that exist in between.
Please continue to visit Mecknc.gov for updates on the process!
Dena R. Diorio
Mecklenburg County Manager