Nestled in the midst of the 1,343 acre Latta Plantation Nature Preserve, the exquisite Latta House and impressive land are now used to take a look back at the history of North Carolina through a unique lens.
Latta Plantation, Latta Plantation Nature Preserve, North Carolina history
MobileRVing: The Buzz, Your Outdoor Lifestyle Insider, Written by Olivia Richman.
Discover The Latta House
Nestled In The Midst of the 1,343 Acre Latta Plantation Nature Preserve, The Exquisite Latta House Reminds Us Of A Unique History Inside North Carolina
Cliff Grimsley is a bubbly tour guide with a friendly southern drawl. He has a way of making even the most mundane of facts seems exciting. The Buzz contacted Cliff in hopes to uncover the mysteries of this 19th-century cotton plantation that is still around today offering tours.
The Buzz: Do you know Mr. Latta's annual income each year farming cotton?
“Oh, my goodness! Well, you know what? I don't know! But it sure must have been a a good amount because most people in that area at that time were living in one room cabins. To see him build this huge home... Well, they were relatively amazed someone had that much money!”
It's this genuine excitement about the Historic Latta Plantation that has made Grimsley an exceptional tour guide at the living history site, nestled in the midst of the 1,343 acre Latta Plantation Nature Preserve. The exquisite home and impressive land are now used to take a look back at the history of North Carolina through a unique lens.
The Buzz: So what can guests expect to see during their visit?
“You get to view the plantation house, the kitchen, the three cabins on the property. We also have a carriage barn. They can see all the animals (the same species now that Mr. Latta had when he built it in 1800). The well house and the smoke house. We also have a small museum built into our visitor's center.”
The Buzz: But the main focus is the home.
“I'm in love with the house. I love, love, love the house. All the light shining through the windows. All the furniture of the time period. I just love it. I'm not even a historian. I'm a microbiologist.”
According to Grimsley, many individuals come to the plantation to see the federal style home and its impressive architecture. The matching doors and windows are a sight to see, designs that were inspired by the homes Mr. Latta saw on his many travels throughout Philadelphia and North Carolina.
There is a window in the entrance hall that looks into the former parlor of the home. While it was great for sunlight and bringing cool wind through, Mr. Latta started using the window for something a bit more peculiar: Mr. and Mrs. Latta would use the window as a way to watch their teenage girls, making sure they were chaperoned as they sat in the parlor.
That's one of Grimsley's favorite stories to tell during the tour of the home.
“I like telling that story because of the surprise on everyone's face, especially the young girls. 'You had to have a chaperone!?' It was not proper for a young lady to be unchaperoned, even in the house. Mrs. Latta would be there. Maybe the sisters would be there. Maybe Suki, the House Mother who took care of the house and took care of the girls also. Maybe she'd be there.”
James Latta was a Scots-Irish immigrant who came to the United States in 1785. Many people are surprised to learn that he started from such a humble beginning and that the home he built in 1800 was funded by money he earned from peddling.
After coming to America, Mr. Latta became a traveling merchant. A peddler. That's how he made most of his money. He would travel the “great wagon road” between Philadelphia and North Carolina with his wagon and team of horses, selling his wares outside the wagon.
During his travels he discovered the back woods of North Carolina. He began to purchase property, the first being 100 acres of land with a cabin for just $600. He ended up amassing over 800 acres. By 1812, he was a bit older and the peddler life wasn't really for him. That's when he began to use the land as a huge cotton plantation.
“Mr. Latta didn't care much for Charlotte, because he knew it would never be a big, bustling city. Wish he could see it today! He'd be surprised!”
The Historic Latta Plantation is one of the very few surviving plantations on the water's edge in North Carolina. Most have since been torn down. But the Historic Latta Plantation has done more than just survive: It's still a working farm to this day, complete with animal feeding and farming work done throughout the day.
The Buzz: What has kept you excited to work here for the past 20 years?
“I love playing with the animals and seeing them. A lot of times I'll just sit and look out the window and watch the activity going around the plantation.”
Complete with Revolutionary War programs, cooking demonstrations and Christmas events, the plantation has become a popular destination for people looking to learn more about the past – and feel like they're taking a trip back in time.
A graduate of East Connecticut State University in Journalism, Olivia has written for Stonebridge Press & Antiques Marketplace among others. She enjoys writing, running and video games.
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