The budget proposed by Gov. Pat McCrory Wednesday closes four historic sites to the public, but the director of the North Carolina Historic Sites is hopeful that this is a temporary plan.
Historic Sites director Keith Hardison said Friday there were several criteria that officials took into account before making the decision to close the House in the Horseshoe, the Aycock Birthplace, the Polk Memorial and the Vance Birthplace.
McCrory's budget moves next to the General Assembly for approval.
The House in the Horseshoe is a historic house near Sanford that dates from before the Revolutionary War. Charles B. Aycock was a North Carolina governor dedicated to education and his house, where he was born in 1859, is located in Wayne County.
The Polk Memorial is for the 11th president's parent's log house in Pineville, near Charlotte. Zeb Vance was elected governor three times and served as governor during the Civil War. His house is located in Weaverville, outside of Asheville.
John Hairr, the site manager for the House in the Horseshoe, said that for the staff of three, the decision to close "was out of the blue." The closing is still sinking in for the historic location, he said.
Out of the 24 statewide facilities, the four that were cut were cut due to low visitation rates and closures that would impact the fewest people, said Hardison. For example, the Aycock site had 11,576 visitors for fiscal 2011-12. That's far below the 438,000 Fort Fisher, near Wilmington, drew over that time frame.
"These sites are being put in a dormant status," Hardison said, not being completely closed.
Hardison said the sites will be closed to the public but still maintained by one staff member to look after the grounds and artifacts on each site. He is hopeful that the sites will be opened at least once or twice a year to the public for these temporary closures.
When the budget improves the four sites should be reopened, Hardison said.
"We don't see this as an end but a pause in the story. We anticipate that all four sites will come back. We are dedicated as a division to that goal," said Hardison.