Charlotte-area plantation rebranding as “Place” months after racially controversial event led to closure

As part of the first phase of a reopening project, the landmark is rebranding from “Latta Plantation” to “Latta Place”.
In June of 2021, Mecklenburg County opted not to renew its contract with Historic Latta, Inc., a 501(c)(3) organization.
Published: Feb. 17, 2022 at 11:50 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - A historical plantation in the Charlotte area is rebranding after the promotion of a racially insensitive event led to its closure in 2021.

Mecklenburg County has completed the first phase of a reopening project of the Historic Latta Plantation. As part of the first phase of the reopening project, the landmark is rebranding from “Latta Plantation” to “Latta Place”.

Related: Mecklenburg County completes Phase 1 in Historic Latta reopening project

In June of 2021, Mecklenburg County opted not to renew its contract with Historic Latta, Inc., a 501(c)(3) organization that had operated the site since the 1970s.

Related: Mecklenburg County allowing contract to expire with Historic Latta Plantation over controversial event

The decision to let the contract expire was based around a controversial event which many deemed as racially insensitive. The contract group was planning on an event called “Kingdom Coming” taking attendees back to the post-Civil War era. The problem was many felt it was too divisive with characters referred to as “massa” and actors portraying confederate soldiers at the event.

Back in July of 2021, The Mecklenbury County Parks and Recreations director said they were letting the contract with the group expire after they shut down the event. Members said they wanted to make sure this never happens again.

Now, almost seven months later, Mecklenburg County staff and community partners have since completed the first of a three-phased site reopening project.

Related: Mecklenburg County leaders review plans to update Historic Latta Plantation

The county says a diverse team of community partners was assembled, some of whom reached out to the county and some of whom were invited to participate.

The following organizations are represented:

  • Charlotte Chapter of the NAACP
  • Historic Landmarks Commission
  • Johnson C. Smith University
  • Levine Museum of the New South
  • Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation
  • Mecklenburg County Manager’s Office
  • Mecklenburg County Public Information
  • Mint Museum
  • North Carolina Department of Natural & Cultural Resources
  • UNC Charlotte

The group also includes several independent historians, interpreters and descendants.

County leaders say staff and community partners developed a mission and vision statement based on peer-reviewed research and public input.

“Latta Place: Truth – Transparency – Compassion –Transformation – Unity. We believe it is our duty to tell the truth. We resolve to practice transparency in all that we do,” the mission statement reads in part.

“We are dedicated to providing, a transformational and engaging experience featuring holistic storytelling filled with truth and empathy; an educational experience, giving voice to a multitude of historical perspectives; a bridge between the past and present through historical interpretation; an essential resource to the residents of the greater Charlotte/Mecklenburg community and beyond; a visit that inspires self-examination and application of knowledge; a hub for the promotion of historical research and peer-reviewed scholarship; a welcome to all visitors with the intent of fostering dignity, while respecting the natural environment in which Latta Place is located,” the statement continued.

The county says a “statistically valid” survey of 917 respondents was conducted in December of 2021.

Survey results indicate that nearly 70% of respondents had heard of Historic Latta. Of these, 2/3 (55% of total respondents) had visited the site in the past year.

When asked to share experiences and thoughts from a recent visit to Historic Latta, the county says many respondents mentioned Latta Nature Preserve as a lovely setting for the historic site and mentioned that they hiking on trails, horseback riding or visiting Mountain Island Lake in addition to spending time at the house.

“Loved it. Loved the history and the education,” one person said.

“As a black person, it makes you sad,” another visitor noted.

“Nicely done local plantation experience. But did not tell the whole story of slavery on plantations,” another person said.

When asked why some have not recently visited Historic Latta, the county says many of the responses focused on lack of proximity to the location or lack of interest or awareness in the site. A few residents noted they have visited the park, but not the plantation itself.

Mecklenburg County staff and community partners conducted site visits to 11 facilities and noted themes like incorporating different perspectives into storytelling.

During the Discovery phase, the county says onsite maintenance including repairs to the main house exterior, connection to city water and tree maintenance has been ongoing.

Phase 2 of the reopening project is blueprinting. County leaders say beginning this Spring, staff and partners will conduct research to ensure that site programming is aligned with the established mission statement.

Phase 3 is implementation and county leaders say the Historic Latta site reopening is projected for Fiscal Year 2023.

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