Popular yearly attraction put into print

Hart Square, one of Catawba County's most popular attractions, recently opened for its once-a-year appearance as a 19th-century village.

The collection of 75 log cabins, stores and buildings is owned by Dr. Robert Hart and his wife, Becky, who have been staging the step back in time for 26 years at their 200-acre farm.

Each year, the Harts enlist volunteers to demonstrate cotton-ginning, moonshining, horseshoeing, weaving, basket-making and other trades and crafts, all of them wearing period costumes and telling stories of long ago.

And every year, hundreds of visitors line up outside the county history museum in Newton to buy the $25 tickets to tour Hart Square.

And like every other year, all 3,000 tickets sold out long before the event.

But for those without tickets, there's another way to see the village this year: A newly published coffee table picture book, "Hart Square: One Man's Passionate Preservation of North Carolina's Pioneer Heritage."

The 400-page book costs $75. Proceeds benefit the Hart Square Foundation, which preserves the village.

Written by Hart and Nathan Moehlmann, the book is published by Goosepen Studio and Press in Conover. It has photography, descriptions and recollections of Hart as he talks about finding, dismantling, moving, reconstructing and decorating his structures. Painter Bob Timberlake wrote the preface.

Melinda Herzog, executive director of the Catawba County Museum of History, which helps the Harts by handling ticket sales, said with the beautiful wooded site, cabins and costumed villagers, a trip to Hart Square "is like stepping back into the mists of time."