DURHAM — Stephanie Hardy is the new site manager at Historic Stagville in Durham, and finds that the many stories to tell there — about American Indian history, African American history, women’s history, agricultural practices, or period craftsmanship — offer endless opportunities to engage the public. Sharing the experiences and practices of past generations at Stagville and other historic sites informs citizens today and prepares them for better decision making in the future.
Hardy arrived at Stagville on Dec. 10, and is excited to have actual buildings to work with. She has been a manager and program coordinator at Kidzu Museum in Chapel Hill, and curated an exhibit and handled and organized artwork while an intern at the Greenville Museum of Art. She also was a summer camp educator at the Museum of Life and Science in Durham.
“I have experience in art, science, and children’s museums, but history is nearest and dearest to my heart,” Hardy explains. She was awarded the B.A. degree in psychology and history from the UNC-Chapel Hill, and is completing the masters’ program in public history and museum studies at East Carolina University in Greenville.
Hardy says America is a young nation on the world stage, but has accomplished a lot in a short time. When she reflects on the Colonial and Civil War eras, both of which are interpreted at Stagville, she finds the history anything but dull. She plans to build on the momentum of her predecessors at Stagville, and to develop the site to its potential.
“I believe we are capable of creating a visitor experience that rivals any historic site in the country. I want visitors to associate Stagville with exciting special events, comprehensive tours and a well-informed and friendly staff,” she says.
The site is one of 27 State Historic Sites within the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources. The state historic sites division’s visitation was up more than 30 percent in November over the previous year, and overall is up more than 22 percent this fiscal year. North Carolina is known far and wide for its authentic cultural experiences. Historic sites and museums are great destinations for cultural and heritage travelers, who stay longer and spend more money in local economies.
Historic Stagville was one of the South’s largest plantations and once belonged to the Bennehan-Cameron family. It covered 30,000 acres and held approximately 900 enslaved. Four of the original buildings constructed by enslaved craftsmen remain at the site, including the state’s largest agricultural structure built by slaves.
For additional information call (919) 807-7389. Historic Stagville is within the Division of State Historic Sites in the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources. It is located at 5828 Old Oxford Highway in Durham.