Chapter 10: Management, Interpretive, and Research Recommendations
The Scope of Work (SOW) for this study notes that an HRS “supplies data for resource management and interpretation [and] . . . identifies any need for special history studies, cultural landscape reports, or other detailed studies and may make recommendations for resource management and interpretation as appropriate.” Given the extensive work already done in nominating CALO structures for the National Register, the SOW specifies that “National Register amendments or new documentation [are] not included in this scope of work; however, the researchers will make recommendations for the same” as needed.
This chapter responds to the Scope of Work’s requirements in the following ways:
Discussing briefly the especially problematic relationship between “historic resources” at CALO and meaningful historical interpretation at this park;
Suggesting how reframing and enlarging the analytical and interpretive contexts, themes, and perspectives for CALO to bring them up to date with current historical scholarship could correct, enhance and deepen historical and cultural interpretation across the park as a whole and at particular locations, especially through the creative use of new technologies; and
Making recommendations for further research that could help round out understanding of specific aspects of CALO history as reflected in previous studies, National Register documents, and the List of Classified Structures.
Especially in light of the park’s intention to write a new General Management Plan and a Comprehensive Interpretive Plan in the near term, we hope these recommendations will help connect the contexts and perspectives we have developed here to the elaboration of themes and programming of specific activities that those planning processes will entail.
“Historic Resources” and Interpretation
Because of the imperatives imposed by historic preservation legislation and the National Register, the idea of “historic resources” in the National Parks dictates a focus on extant physical resources, especially historic buildings, structures, and, to some extent, landscapes (including vegetation and circulation networks). At CALO, which was designated as a park largely due to its natural and recreational value and whose physical cultural resources are predominantly fragile, impermanent, and somewhat scattered in terms of thematic or narrative unity, tying history-telling too tightly to existing physical resources invites presentation of a historical narrative that is fragmented and less connected to the large, important, and interesting stories that have unfolded on and around Core Banks for more than three hundred years.
As we suggest in Chapter 1, the National Register process has been especially problematic as a guide for interpretation at the park. By dictating rigid periods of “significance,” it has identified a fairly short contextual time frame for the histories of areas within the park (approx. 1857 to 1957) that may fit the time for which there is some physical “integrity,” but that is out of phase with the much longer time period that needs to be looked at to understand the historical importance of this region.1
Particularly in the case of Portsmouth, where as many as half of the identified “historic resources” of the park are clustered, the on-the-ground remnants of the past (dating largely from 1900 on) do not represent the period of the site’s greatest importance (1753 to approximately 1860). Creative uncoupling of interpretive materials from physical resources could enhance the interpretation of this site and help better explain why a community developed there and achieved importance in the first place. In this regard, we concur with recommendations contained in the the recent Cultural Landscape Report for Porstmouth Village.2
Similarly, with regard to other social and cultural elements that are crucial to represent at the site – including race, gender, class, and culture – new interpretations need to take a larger view, which may help to pull together otherwise apparently fragmentary remains into narratives that draw out these neglected elements of how life was lived on and around Core Banks.
In the spirit of loosening the overly tight tie between “historic resources” (extant physical structures) and “history” (a narrative of what happened on/around this land in the past), we suggest below some ways to broaden the context in which the history of Core Banks is understood. Narratives that flow from that broadening will encompass many of the resources still found on the site, but will not be completely dictated by them. See Appendix D for an indication of how we have moved from thinking about historic resources in a National Register context to defining major “locations of activity” that encompass but are not defined by historic resources.
In an age when new technologies are vastly expanding our ability to visualize the pasts of places that no longer are physically resent, the opportune moment to widen the frame at CALO seems at hand. We suggest in this connection that CALO staff study carefully the North Carolina digital mapping web site recently developed by the University of North Carolina library: http://www.lib.unc.edu/dc/ncmaps.3 Its aim is to digitize all known North Carolina maps produced before 1923, nearly 120 of them supplied by the Outer Banks History Center. [ILLUSTRATION: Survey of Roanoke Inlet and Sound 1829. CAPTION: Fig. 10-1: Survey of Roanoke Inlet and Sound, 1829. Map by James D. Graham, United States Corps of Engineers. Outer Banks History Center. Courtesy of North Carolina Maps (http://www.lib.unc.edu/dc/ncmaps)]. Offering particularly promising possibilities is the interactive Historic Overlay Maps subsection of the site, which includes two sample georeferenced Carteret County overlay maps, one of them centered on Beaufort Inlet. All of the maps can be overlayed on Google Earth. These new digital technologies offer CALO significantly expanded advantages for historical documentation, resource management, and interpretation.
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