History Haven at Horne Creek Farm
Take one step onto the preserved land at Horne Creek Farm in Pinnacle, and you’ll find yourself stepping back in time.
Horne Creek Living Historical Farm gives visitors a glimpse of farm life in the northwestern Piedmont in the early 1900s. Once the Hauser family farm, the site was officially dedicated as a State Historic Site in 1987 to serve as a research center and outdoor museum for the study, preservation, and interpretation of North Carolina’s agricultural heritage at the turn of the century. It aims to give guests a look at the common family farm of the past – their hardships and struggles, as well as the rich farming legacy they left for North Carolina.
At this farm, you’ll discover volunteers tending to heirloom vegetables, field crops and herbs; sturdy buildings and structures that have stood for more than a century; and rare and endangered species of animals common on farms 100 years ago.
“Our visitors are constantly surprised by the number of original buildings that are still standing at Horne Creek,” says Lisa Turney, site manager. “I think many of them come expecting to see a totally recreated site. The fact that they see a farm with the majority of its buildings from the late 19th and early 20th centuries gives them a much better understanding and appreciation for the rural life of that time.”
Some of the farm’s main attractions include the original Hauser Farmhouse, built over the course of five years from 1875 to 1880, restored and furnished to the circa 1900-1910 era, a well/wash house, smokehouse, double-crib log feed barn, tobacco curing barn, corncrib, a reconstructed fruit and veggie dry house, and the 800-tree Southern Heritage Apple Orchard, which features more than 400 varieties of old southern apples, many of which are on the brink of extinction.
“Our orchard is, to our knowledge, the only publicly operated orchard in the nation devoted to southern apples,” Turney says. “Lee Calhoun, the author of Old Southern Apples – the bible on southern apples – and his wife, Edith, grafted and donated all of the trees that make up the orchard.”
Former North Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture James A. Graham called the orchard an apple lover’s dream.
But one of the best things about Horne Creek is its hands-on approach. Rather than just observing the traditions of 20th-century farmers, guests have the chance to try it for themselves. Whether it’s cutting grass with a scythe, drawing a bucket of water from the well or learning how to cook on a wood stove, Horne Creek offers a fully interactive experience.
The farm brings history to life for students, too, with both a walking tour and hands-on program available for school groups. Turney says with the number of students in North Carolina projected to grow over the next decade, Horne Creek will continue to vary its programs.
“The thing that draws me to Horne Creek is that this way of life is long gone, but should not be forgotten,” says Alfred Dillon, president of Horne Creek’s nonprofit, the North Carolina Living Historical Farm Committee Inc. “It gives us an opportunity to teach the younger generations about the hardships and lessons of life that were valuable in making our nation successful. It always thrills me to be able to talk about these things with schoolchildren who visit.”
Throughout the year, the farm holds several exciting events, focusing on early 1900s farm life, featuring activities from sheep shearing and pie baking to ice cream socials and musical afternoons.
“Of all of our events, the Cornshucking Frolic in October is our largest,” Turney says. “Depending on the weather, we typically draw between 4,000 and 10,000 visitors.”
The fall event demonstrates the harvesting, shucking, shelling and grinding of corn. Visitors can enjoy period craft demonstrations, plus freshly pressed cider, quilting, cooking, woodworking, wagon rides and more. They will also have many heritage varieties of apples available for sale, as well as grafted trees. The 2014 Cornshucking Frolic takes place Oct. 18 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Other events throughout the year include Heritage Day in the spring, a Fabric and Fiber Arts Festival in the summer and Christmas by Lamplight, where visitors can experience a rural turn-of-the-century holiday.
As for the future, Turney says Horne Creek remains a work in progress. They hope to reconstruct some Hauser Farm buildings, complete and install permanent exhibits in the visitor center and increase visitation, among many other objectives. They’re also looking at constructing a building in the apple orchard, which will have a refrigeration unit, provide an area for orchard equipment, serve as an orientation point and provide space to process the fruit.
Visiting Horne Creek Farm
Location: 308 Horne Creek Farm Road in Pinnacle
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Closed Sundays, Mondays and most major holidays.
Phone: (336) 325-2298
– Rachel Bertone
CORRECTION: Our print edition (Fall 2014) mistakenly identifies an item in the house as a piano. The instrument is actually a pump organ. We apologize for this error.