The Printing Press (The Blog)

The latest about Hart Square, hot off the press.

Published: Sep. 05, 2023
By Lorissa Vines via Visit Hickory Metro

A Hart for History

Fifty years ago, a passion for preserving early American history was ignited when a friend told Dr. Bob Hart about an old cabin that needed to be saved. Bob dismantled and transported the structure to his 200-acre woodland reserve where it was reassembled log by log on the banks of a pond. The Hunsucker House, circa 1840, marked the beginning of Hart Square Village, the nation’s largest historic log cabin museum.  

During Bob’s lifetime, the collection grew to 103 historic structures built between 1760 and 1893. Among these testaments to early American life, you will find family homes, a print shop, a grist mill, trade shops, a groundhog kiln, and the largest, and only mule-powered functioning antebellum cotton gin in North America. These historic structures were relocated from within 20 miles of Hart Square for the purpose of their ongoing preservation. The only exception is the cotton gin, which was relocated from South Carolina.

The acquisition and reconstruction of historic cabins was not enough for Bob, and he and his wife, Becky, spent much of their time seeking out authentic and time-period correct furnishings for each cabin. The first period antique that was acquired was a primitive jelly cupboard, paving the way for each structure to serve as an exhibit to our pioneer heritage. The museum does not confine artifacts to glass cases.  It does not rope off certain sections. Rather, each structure is a tribute to pioneer life and appears as if a family or tradesperson got up and walked out moments prior.

Today, the open-air museum is preserved and shared by Hart Square Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving the past for future generations. The Hart’s donated the historic village, artifacts, and property to Hart Square Foundation in 2017. The Foundation is not only committed to preserving the historic structures that comprise Hart Square Village, but also to the preservation of traditional arts, trades, and the pioneer way of life. This has been accomplished by moving from opening to the public one time per year to offering year-round programming and lifelong learning opportunities.

Hart Square will welcome visitors to step back in time to the 1800’s at the 38th Annual Living History Festival on October 28th.  Hart Square Village will bustle with craftspeople and historic demonstrators, many of whom have gained regional and national acclaim for their artistry. From lacemaking, to tin smithing, to turning pottery - traditional crafts and trades will be on display throughout the historic village.  In addition to this signature event, immersive living history experiences are provided annually at the May Day Festival and Christmas in the Village.

Hart Square offers a membership program, where members can access the site during weekly member-only hours.  Additionally, the site is open to the public through ticketed community events, classes, and workshops. From enjoying a concert, to attending a contra dance, to learning traditional crafts such as wood carving, leatherworking, bobbin lacemaking, or open hearth cooking - there is truly something for everyone at Hart Square Village.

Bob and Becky Hart agreed that, “Hart Square isn’t worth all the work unless there are others to share it with, others to learn with and from, and others to enjoy this little piece of our past.” The Hart Square Foundation team shares this belief and strives daily to honor the legacy of Dr. Bob Hart while preserving and sharing this national treasure. Whether you become a member, visit the site as a student on a field trip, or attend a community event, we hope to see you at Hart Square soon!

Published: July 28th, 2023

Historic Structure Saved at Hart Square Village

 It is unusual to find historic dogtrot style cabins in our area of North Carolina, making the Hoyle Dogtrot Cabin, circa 1850, a truly unique addition to Hart Square Village.  Prior to his passing, our founder Dr. Bob Hart shared, “the dogtrot required more restoration than any building at Hart Square, but I preserved it for its rare design.”  This structure was moved to Hart Square in the 1980’s for its continued preservation.

Hart Square Foundation was awarded a Preserving America Grant from Americana Corner to restore this historic cabin, as the front foundation sill log had split and was rotten and decaying. This was causing crushing and compressing of the structure.  When work commenced, it was discovered that in addition to settling in an unstable manner, the cabin was structurally unsound.  Additional extensive rot and termite damage was discovered, with the rear foundation sill log also requiring replacement.  Contracted Restorationist, Austin Kirkland, said that “if it were not for the chimneys anchoring each side of the cabin, the structure would have already collapsed.”  A community-wide fundraising campaign ensued to perform the additional restoration work needed to stabilize the historic cabin and save it from collapse.

Development Director, Lorissa Vines, says “We are so grateful to Americana Corner and all of the individual donors who came together to save the Hoyle Dogtrot Cabin from collapse. We could not preserve and share the history housed at Hart Square Village without this meaningful support.  It truly takes a village to save the historic village!”

Published: June 8th, 2023

Grant Award Supports Youth Pottery Initiative

The center of the alkaline glazed stoneware tradition of North Carolina lies in the western Piedmont, near the Catawba - Lincoln County border.  Located in Vale, NC with a traditional groundhog kiln on site, Hart Square Foundation is well suited to carry on the pottery tradition that has been part of our rural community for nearly two centuries.

To preserve the Catawba Valley pottery tradition, Hart Square Foundation is establishing the Catawba Valley Junior Potters.  Instruction begins this year with handbuilt pottery.  Classes will take place inside the Sigmon Family Education Center while fundraising is underway to construct a pottery studio on site.  Student apprentices will progress from handbuilt pottery to pottery on the wheel thanks to the support of the United Arts Council of Catawba County.  Pottery wheels for ten students were delivered this week - an exciting next step in the development of the Catawba Valley Junior Potters program!

Learn more about the Catawba Valley Junior Potters here:

This project was supported by the United Arts Council of Catawba County through the North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, with funding from the State of North Carolina from the National Endowment for the Arts.



Published: May 2nd, 2023

Hart Square Launches the Catawba Valley Junior Potters

To preserve the Catawba Valley pottery tradition, Hart Square Foundation is establishing the Catawba Valley Junior Potters under the guidance of renowned Catawba Valley Potter Kim Ellington.  The Catawba Valley Junior Potters program will retain vital components of 19th-century pottery making while fusing traditional methods with contemporary techniques.

Development Director, Lorissa Vines, says, “Last year, we raised funds to rebuild and stabilize the groundhog kiln at Hart Square Village. In working with local potters, we learned that with an aging traditional potter population, the Catawba Valley folk pottery tradition is in danger of extinction. We cannot let this centuries-old tradition fade from history and consider this an urgent calling to pass knowledge and skills to the next generation.”

Our first 8-week course will begin on June 1st with handbuilt pottery, taught by Scottie and John Post of Hog Hill Pottery. These courses will continue on a rolling basis focusing on different techniques, styles, and skill levels. Beginners are welcome, and course content will be crafted for students aged 9th through 12th grade. 

Registration is now open. More information is available on our website.


Published: April 27th, 2023

Special thanks to 

Crafting the Next Generation of Pioneers

Cultural traditions, arts, and trades are what breathe life into the 200 to 300-year-old structures at Hart Square Village. It is what turns material culture into living history. Hart Square Foundation is committed to preserving and sharing traditional arts and trades through creating learning opportunities that give students the opportunity to engage in hands-on history.

Hart Square provides field trip programming that emphasizes traditional arts and trades, science and agriculture, and history immersion. Custom field trip experiences are offered in the spring, fall, and winter seasons. Students move through a series of five rotations featuring a variety of subjects, including pinch pot pottery, quill pen letter writing, blacksmithing, Appalachian music, heritage herb gardening, corn husk doll making, and more.

Thanks to the generous support of the United Arts Council of Catawba County, Hart Square has employed working artisans who make the majority of their living wage on their craft. Many of our craftspeople have gained regional and national acclaim for their artistry, and field trip programming gives students the opportunity to observe these artists and tradespeople at work, gaining a deeper appreciation for early American pioneers through hands-on activities. We have found that this exposure encourages students to pursue trades-based learning and understand how historic craftsmanship is part of our present-day workplace.

Spring field trips are in full swing at Hart Square Village, and fall field trip bookings are now available.  Learn more about our next season of field trip programming here:

This project was supported by the United Arts Council of Catawba County through the North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, with funding from the State of North Carolina from the National Endowment for the Arts.


Published: April 21st, 2023

Immerse Yourself in History at Hart Square Village

Hart Square Foundation will welcome visitors to its Historic May Day Festival on May 13, 2023. Immerse yourself in the springtime festivities of the mid-1800s at Hart Square Village, the nation’s largest collection of historic log structures. This event will showcase traditional arts, trades, historic springtime activities, and the pioneer lifestyle in North Carolina.

Explore our 200 to 300-year-old cabins, listen to old-time music, make a crown of flowers, dance around the May Pole, and witness traditional artisans at work. Rebecca Hart, Executive Director, says, “May Day has been celebrated for centuries across many cultures to welcome the coming of spring. We hope you will join us for this special day of living history, where our highly talented group of volunteers will bring Hart Square Village to life and share the springtime traditions of our pioneer ancestors.”  Tickets are available at our website for this immersive historical experience.

20+ Great Things to Do in Hickory (Interactive Museums, the Best Food, and More!)

One of the best things to do in Hickory is to visit Hart Square, the world’s most extensive collection of historic log structures. The 200-acre property is also a nature preserve, with 100-plus 19th-century log structures on site. Of those 103 structures, there are 30 homes, two churches, and multiple trade shops. The square is named after Dr. Bob Hart, who rescued every building in Hart Square from Central and Western North Carolina

Published: December 22nd, 2022