African American Legacy at Historic Rosedale

It is the vision of the Historic Rosedale Foundation to inspire visitors to our site to think deeply about the history of Charlotte, North Carolina, and the United States. This will occur through the interpretation of three important themes; the ancestral families who owned the house and surrounding property, the enslaved and freed African Americans who worked and lived on the land through many generations, and the unique architectural features, decorative arts, and natural landscapes that are showcased in the 1815 historic house and its nine acres of gardens and grounds.

Through this ever-evolving interpretation, we hope to present a complete picture. Presentation will include not only our past – the stories of all the individuals and families who may have lived and worked here – but how this past relates to our current society. Crucial to this vision is the interpretation of the enslaved population and their descendants in an equitable, truthful and compassionate manner.

The African American Legacy at Historic Rosedale project was created in September of 2021 with the development of the African American Legacy (AAL) Committee. The committee was charged with formulating steps to expand and promote the truthful, compassionate, and equitable presentation of the African Americans – both enslaved and freed – who lived and worked at Historic Rosedale. The project, while ever evolving, will mainly consist of exhibits and programming which will depict aspects of the life of enslaved and emancipated persons during the 19th century and their descendants during the 20th and 21st centuries. The long-term goal of the plan is the development of a small facility dedicated to this purpose.

Museums and Historic House Museums in particular should not be monuments or memorials but physical places to experience the past in a manner that is relevant to today.  These buildings teach us about our past. Past facts and events are not all pleasant, but it is a museum’s responsibility to present the facts truthfully. Because of the sensitive nature of many of these truths, The African American Legacy Committee will collaborate with a broad and diverse group of individuals, starting with the descendants of those enslaved who lived and worked at what we know today as Historic Rosedale. Along with descendants, the Committee will work with community researchers and experts, academic consultants, ancestral families, and many others to authenticate our interpretation and exhibits. The use of original documents, scholarly local and national studies, and oral histories about local Euro -American, Native American and enslaved people of Mecklenburg County, the surrounding Piedmont area, and other relative locations provides the foundation of information.

The Historic Rosedale Foundation is charged with preserving a landmark and interpreting a complicated history. It is our long-term responsibility to share such a multi-faceted legacy with the community and visitors to our site to help create a sense of relevance, belonging, and unity.

If you are interested in getting involved in this important initiative, please contact us at roseedu@historicrosedale.org