Polk site ready for facelift

Scott Warren’s office looks like a Polk-paraphernalia-packed bomb went off, leaving books about the 11th president here, fliers about upcoming Polk-themed events there, forming what could be the center of the universe when it comes to the mission of informing people about the Pineville-born president.

Part of the renovation will replace the pink exhibit stands (above) with something modern.

Part of the renovation will replace the pink exhibit stands (above) with something modern.

And starting soon, the President James K. Polk Historic Site on Lancaster Highway will receive a facelift Warren said will be good enough for its namesake – mere months after the site director had to wait and see if state funding cuts would shut down the popular field trip destination.

“The vision (is we) really want to make this place befitting of a president,” Warren said of the building and museum, built in the 1960s and last updated in the 1980s. Crews will renovate the museum with modernized displays, Warren said, as well as replace the track lighting, upgrade the carpet and create an overall “fresher look to exhibits at the museum.”

“I’m excited about it,” Warren said recently on a slow winter day that normally would have seen Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools third-graders wandering the museum and historic grounds. The site is a main field trip for students studying local history, and sprucing it up might make it more attractive for young minds. “I think it’s going to be a much-needed facelift for this place,” Warren said.

There was a chance those field trips were going to come to an end last summer, when new Republican leaders in Raleigh looked to make cuts to the state budget that would have included funding for historic sites like Pineville’s. But the money eventually came through. The $130,000 for the museum improvements was approved on an earlier
budget.

The work will begin likely in May, Warren said, though it will not prohibit people from touring the facility and grounds. Site staff will move the exhibits to another location so students and other visitors can continue to come “and get the story of James K. Polk,” Warren said. “When people walk in the door, they will know this is a presidential museum.”

Meanwhile, the museum’s normal programing will go on as planned, with a big new addition this year. Author
Robert Morgan will discuss his book “Lions of the West: Heroes and Villains of the Westward Expansion,” which profiles “10 Americans who inspired our nation’s westward expansion,” according to a news release.

The event will take place Wednesday, March 26, at the Hilton Garden Inn, 425 Towne Centre Blvd. Cost to attend is $30 for the reception and program or $20 for just the program, with funds supporting the historic site. Books will be available for purchase.

People can register to attend at www.presjkpolk.com.

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