“It was a big mistake,” he said with a grin. “I came off that roof a hundred miles an hour. I sailed over a hundred feet all the way to the ground. I bounced three or four times still sitting on that piece of tin, never felt myself hit the ground and Harold (Starnes) from the other side looked down and said ‘Doc how’d you get over there so fast.’”
These are the kind of stories Hart has collected the last 40 years as he restored more than 100 log cabins at the farm now known as Hart Square in the Vale community of Catawba County.
On Thursday, Hart along with his family and other supporters, celebrated another step toward sharing those and more stories with the groundbreaking for the Sigmon Family Education Center.
The site is already a popular destination for local schools to take students with 1,500 visiting Hart Square in the past year. Some of the cabins date back to the mid-1700s. All but two of the buildings were originally sited within a 60-mile radius of Hart Square.
“I want kids to be able to learn about the inventions of the past and how they can apply that knowledge to the future,” said Rebecca Hart, executive director for the Hart Square Foundation, the non-profit overseeing the construction of the new education center.
“We don’t have any modern amenities here, so running programming with 1,500 kids, that’s incredible that’s even happening,” Rebecca Hart said. “This project is now allowing for us to keep going. If we can have 1,500 kids here with hardly any infrastructure, imagine what we can do when we have this new space.”
The education center will bring those “amenities” to Hart Square.
It will be 1,500 square feet with two classrooms, one for research and one as a space where students can learn homesteading skills like woodworking in a hands-on environment.
There will be a multi-purpose area as well with seating for up 700 people that can be used for corporate retreats or weddings.
Virginia and Powell Sigmon, friends of the Harts, got the funding started for the facility, donating $1 million of the $3.5 million needed for the project. Construction is set to begin this month by Neill Construction and is expected to be completed within the year.
There are several upcoming fundraisers for the Hart Foundation: Children’s Easter Egg Hunt, March 24, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; Founder’s Day: Bluegrass and BBQ, April 14, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
The village is the largest collection of historical log structures in the United States along including barns, houses, chapels and even a few outhouses, according to Hartsquare.com.
Hart Square Village is located at 5029 Hope Road in Vale.
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