House in Horseshoe Set for Closure
The historic House in the Horseshoe is destined for closure in the budget developed by the state Senate.
Nestled in a bend in the Deep River, the Colonial-era building was the site of a colorful skirmish near the end of the American Revolution. The building, dating to the 1770s, and surrounding grounds are classified as a state historic site and are managed by the Office of Archives and History, a unit of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources.
"It would be a real loss both for the people who live in Moore County and for the people who visit Moore County," said Caleb Miles, executive director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau. "It is an important reminder of the history of our country."
Miles said he hopes the legislature will reconsider plans to close the site, which attracts thousands of visitors annually, including large numbers of schoolchildren. In addition to the historic battle, the House in the Horseshoe provides important insight into the life of Americans in the 18th century, he added.
"It would be a shame if that site is closed," Miles said. "I hope that in the budget process our legislators can find a way to keep it open."
Joe Newberry, public information officer for the state Department of Cultural Resources, confirmed that the House in the Horseshoe is one of eight historic sites targeted for closure in the Senate version of the budget.
Newberry cautioned that the budget has not been adopted and is still subject to a series of legislative actions before it becomes law. The Senate is scheduled to vote on its budget proposal on Tuesday.
Once that vote is taken, the budget process goes to a conference committee that must resolve differences between the House and Senate versions. The final legislative product is then subject to Gov. Beverly Perdue, a Democrat often at odds with the Republican-controlled General Assembly.
John Hairr, site manager at the House in the Horseshoe, said that he has received no specific information about the budget. He is one of three full-time employees working at the historic site.
In an average year, the site attracts about 17,000 visitors, about one-third of whom are schoolchildren.
The big attraction each year, according to Hairr, is the summertime re-enactment of the July 1781 skirmish in which a Loyalist militia attacked the rural residence of Philip Alston.
The raiders, led by Col. David Fanning, set fire to a straw-filled cart and rolled it into the house in an attempt to set it afire. Alston's household finally surrendered, but not before the Loyalists had fired numerous bullets into the Alston homeplace. Some of those bullets are still on view in the historic site.
Alston, a colonel in the Whig militia, was regarded as an American patriot at the time but later fell into disgrace and sold the 2,500-acre plantation, which was eventually purchased by Gov. Benjamin Williams.
Although only eight sites are targeted for closure, the proposed budget contains sharp cuts for all sites managed by the state agency.
For example, Tryon Palace in New Bern, North Carolina's first Colonial capital, will sustain budget cuts of almost 89 percent by 2012 if the Senate version is adopted. Nearby Town Creek Indian Mound in Montgomery County is spared the budget ax but is likewise subject to strict budget cuts.
Contact Florence Gilkeson at florence@the pilot.com.
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