The Historic Stagville Foundation is celebrating the founders of Preservation Durham Saturday -- at the same time as, on the other side of Durham County, Preservation Durham is holding its biggest annual money-making affair (see item below).
Margaret Haywood, the irresistible force behind Preservation Durham's creation (as the Historic Preservation Society of Durham) in 1974 as well as the preservation of a portion of the 18th-century Stagville plantation, is a special honoree at Stagville.
As she has told the story, Haywood took no little offense at a business magazine's reference to Durham as "a hot-dog town" lacking in culture and sophistication. Knowing better, she rallied friends and acquaintances to make Durham's storied past known and appreciated.
Their first project was protecting and restoring the 1787 Bennehan House at Stagville, part of an antebellum plantation complex that covered 30,000 acres in present Durham, Granville and Wake counties. That led to about 70 acres – including the Bennehan House, 1850 Horton Grove slave village and 1860 Great Barn – being donated to the state by the Liggett & Myers Tobacco Co., which had farmed the grounds since 1954.
After a $400,000 clean-up, paint-up, fix-up job ($1.4 million in 2010 money), Stagville opened to the public in 1977 as a “Center for Preservation Technology” that went on to spend 26 years in bureaucratic limbo at the Department of Cutural Resources before gaining status as a State Historic Site in 2003.
Besides Haywood, former Stagville manager John Flowers (who also played the primary role in getting downtown Durham on the National Register) and Larry Tise, former state director of archives and history, are to be on hand for the occasion.
And, fittingly enough, hot dogs. The grilled kind, according to Marcia Loudon, president of the Heritage Garden Club that has taken Stagville on as its special project site.
“We have live music,” she said. “People speaking about native plants, Tom [Magnuson] on the Trading Path.”
From North Roxboro Street at Church’s Fried Chicken, Stagville State Historic Site is about 7 miles out the Old Oxford Highway. Among the festivities are gourd planting, opening for a new native-plant walking trail and a how-to demonstration on nature photography. The fun starts at 10 a.m. – same time as the Hope Valley homes tour. Suggested “donation” is $5 per family.