Published: Dec 15, 2012 07:00 PM
Modified: Dec 15, 2012 08:32 PM
The Stagville State Historic Site got something new last week: people.
A new manager, Stephanie Hardy, and assistant manager, Jeremiah DeGennaro, spent their first days on the job Tuesday, joining new maintenance head Tony Strother to give the site a full full-time staff after their three predecessors left over a period of weeks.
“One of those unusual situations,” said Dale Coats, deputy director of the state Historic Sites Division.
All three departures involved travel time to work. What happened was:
• Alton Mitchell, site manager since September 2009, was commuting to work from his home in Wilson. The travel, coupled with some family health issues that required his attention, led Mitchell to turn in his notice, Coats said.
• Tony Rocha, in charge of maintaining the site, took another state-government job. It was a promotion and shortened his commute.
• Kimberly Puryear, who started as assistant site manager a month before Mitchell arrived, took a job at the Raleigh City Museum. She lives in Raleigh.
“So it just so happened, it all took place over a six-week period,” said Coats, who lives in Durham and commutes to work in Raleigh or elsewhere around the state.
Historic Stagville ( bit.ly/ae5ERA
), on the Old Oxford Highway near the Flat River, is a 160-acre portion of an antebellum plantation that once covered 30,000 acres. Its acreage includes a 1790s plantation home and the 1850 Horton Grove slave village.
Under normal circumstances, the site would have held its annual “Christmas in the Big House, Christmas in the Quarters” open house last weekend. After Puryear left, Coats said, that was called off.
“No way we could stage a major event,” he said. Otherwise, the old plantation carried on with two part-time employees, volunteers, the Stagville Foundation board and Coats himself a couple of days a week.
Hardy, the new manager, was formerly museum manager at the Kidzu Children’s Museum in Chapel Hill. She has a master’s degree in public history and museum studies and has been a summer-camp teacher at the Museum of Life and Science.
DeGennaro, the new assistant manager, was formerly on staff at Bennett Place State Historic Site. “He’s ready to hit the ground running,” Coats said.