7 Places to Explore History with Kids
Travel through local history all around Charlotte.
The Gantt Center provides historical context of African-American arts and culture through a variety of exhibits.
Courtesy of Harvey B. Gantt Center
Think learning about the history of our area can only take place in stuffy museums where no one is allowed to talk? Think again. From Statesville to Pineville, you learn about life in pre-Civil War times, stroll through picturesque gardens, learn what plantation life was like, discuss history documented through photographs, watch battle reenactments, and much more.
This center is devoted to providing the community with a nice mix of fine art, exhibits, lectures, and educational programs all designed to celebrate the contributions of African Americans to the American culture. Two new exhibits are opening this summer—Nellie Ashford: Through My Eyes (featuring mixed media works by the folk artist) and Quilts and Social Fabric: Heritage and Improvisation, which represents a historical look at traditional African American quilts and the traditions behind them. The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts + Culture, 551 S. Tryon St.
Transport yourself back to a different era at this plantation built in 1815 by Archibald Frew, and the location of one of the most popular annual Easter egg hunts in the area. There are also gardens on the grounds that depict the type of garden people planted before it was fashionable to have plants blooming all year. Visit the plantation’s website for a schedule of guided tours on the property, which is located just a few miles from the center of Uptown Charlotte. Historic Rosedale Plantation, 3427 N. Tryon St.
Immerse yourself at this museum and arm yourself with the knowledge of geographic region in which you reside, as well as the true definition of The New South. Study the centerpiece exhibit with the nation’s most comprehensive interpretation of post-Civil War Southern history with artifacts, images, video clips, music, and more. Other current exhibits feature stories of Latinos in the South, and a look at a collection of photographs of writers and artists taken by a renowned folklorist. Levine Museum of the New South, 200 E. 7th St.
4. Fort Dobbs
History buffs can get a glimpse into the time during the French and Indian War, which took place between the years of 1754 and 1763 at this historical site, located in Statesville. Take in one of the daily interpretive tours for free, visit exhibits that feature many of the artifacts found at the site. On July 23 and 24, historic interpreters representing the Rowan County militia will hold demonstrations of military camp life and musket and cannon firing demonstrations. Fort Dobbs, 438 Fort Dobbs Road, Statesville.
The 5,000-square-foot rock Hezekiah Alexander House holds the distinction of being the oldest surviving house in Mecklenburg County. Visit the grounds and tour the reproduction log kitchen, barn, and springhouse. Take a look back at the city of Charlotte through the photography exhibits and learn more about its development in the permanent Charlotte Neighborhoods exhibit. Mark your calendar for the site’s Fourth of July Celebration scheduled from 10am-2pm. The Charlotte Museum of History and Hezekiah Alexander Homesite, 3500 Shamrock Drive.
Brush up on your presidential history at this site, located in Pineville on land once owned by James K. Polk’s parents. You’ll find reconstructions of log cabins, kitchen houses, and a barn. There is also a gift shop and visitor’s center with exhibits related to Polk’s life, family, and significant events in the Polk administration. Pack a picnic and make a morning or afternoon of it. James K. Polk Historic Site, 12031 Lancaster Hwy., Pineville.
Learn what life was like on a cotton farm at this living history farm in Huntersville. Take a self-guided tour of the plantation home, and visit the animals on the grounds. You can find out more about the Latta and Sample families, the slaves that lived on the planatation, through a number of 18th and 19th century artifacts at the home. As a bonus, you can also visit the nearby Carolina Raptor Center, Latta Nature Center and Preserve, or take hike and picnic in the wooded trails located on the property. Historic Latta Plantation, 6211 Sample Road.