From Mary Turk-Meena, chair of the Board of Trustees for The Charlotte Museum of History:
There have been several media stories about The Charlotte Museum of History over the past several months. Each of these stories covered one or another aspect of the museums current situation, but I thought it would be helpful to provide a more complete picture in one place.
After reading this, I hope the community will understand the entirety of the museums journey over the past several months and our vision for the future. Most importantly, we hope the Charlotte community will actively participate in the continuing preservation and interpretation of the oldest residence in Mecklenburg County, the 1774 Hezekiah Alexander historic homesite.
A little over six months ago, the Board of Trustees, along with the museums interim executive director, Kathy Ridge, determined that the cost-cutting moves previously taken would not stem the tide of the museums increasing debt. The museum simply could not afford to continue to operate as in the past.
As a result, we made the unhappy but necessary decision to temporarily close the museum to the public while the debt was addressed and museum operations were reviewed. Since that time we have:
• Settled essentially all of our outstanding debt. Our creditors have been understanding and many continue to provide services to us. For this we are grateful.
• Developed a new two-pronged business plan, with detailed, responsible and realistic budgets, that (1) focuses on our core mission to preserve and protect the Alexander historic homesite and (2) tells the story of early Charlotte using a unique and interactive approach.
• Transferred our paper archives, including historic maps and papers, to The Charlotte Mecklenburg Public Library in uptown. This will provide greater access to these documents and supplement the existing collection available in the Carolina Room of the Library.
• Evaluated our collection of historic objects. As part of this process, we have identified additional objects that can be used to enhance the experience while visiting the Alexander historic homesite. We also have identified objects that better coordinate with programs provided by other organizations. In each case, the protocol required to properly document and transfer these items has been meticulously followed. For that, we are especially grateful to our historian, Leslie Kesler, and a loyal group of volunteers.
Throughout this process, we have invariably looked to the future.
For the remainder of 2012, the Alexander historic homesite will be open to the public the first Saturday of November and December from 1-5 p.m. Starting in 2013, the historic homesite will be open each weekend with enhanced programs and interactive interpretations for all ages.
In a community where we often hear Charlotte does not preserve and celebrate its early history, I hope the Charlotte community respects the responsible course taken by the museum leadership and will actively support the future activities of the museum. Most importantly, we hope the Charlotte community will support our ongoing efforts to preserve and protect the Alexander historic homesite. Please come by and see this special Charlotte treasure.