RALEIGH, NC July 9, 2014 – Uncertainty clouds North Carolina’s first state capitol. Negotiations are underway between the House and the Senate for funding of Tryon Palace and the North Carolina History Center. Senate budget leaders did not include adequate funding for Tryon Palace relative to the House and Governor’s versions. Specifically, the House budget included an allocation of $400,000 to the $100,000 previously budgeted for Tryon Palace, the minimum needed to keep the Palace and the complex open to the public at current service levels. The Governor’s proposed budget gave Tryon Palace $520,000.
“Tryon Palace is truly one of North Carolina’s gems that helps preserve and present a significant part of our state’s history to a wide range of people from school children to tourists from all over the world,” said Susan Kluttz, Secretary of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources (NCDCR). “If we are forced to reduce its hours, staffing and programming even further, the economic and cultural ramifications will be significant and felt throughout the region.”
Tryon Palace is one of North Carolina’s most significant historic sites. It is the home of the Governor’s Palace, North Carolina’s first state capitol, and includes historic buildings, gardens and the North Carolina History Center, which revolutionizes the visitor experience through use of the latest interactive technology. The History Center includes galleries, a performance hall, the museum store and a waterfront café. Tryon Palace’s mission is to engage present and future generations in the history of North Carolina from early settlement in 1710, the development of statehood and into the mid-20th century. It is dedicated to collecting, interpreting and preserving objects, buildings, landscapes and events that enrich understanding of the making of North Carolina and the nation.
“Since 2010, Tryon Palace has faced 40 percent in reduced support from the state,” said Dr. Kevin Cherry, Deputy Secretary of NCDCR and Director of the Office of History and Archives. “This includes a loss of half of their positions. The Palace is one of the premier public history institutions in the state with the palace and gardens, surrounding historic structures and the new North Carolina History Center.”
“The good news is that the department, site leadership and Palace Foundation have increased private support to 47 percent of their budget,” added Kluttz. “Visitation has increased by 35 percent in May 2014 compared to May 2013, volunteer involvement has increased by 67 percent in the last two years and earned income has increased $100,000 per year since 2012. We, as a team, are making great strides in increasing private funding, but Tryon Palace still needs continued support from the state.”
Other accomplishments made include a partnership with North Carolina State University to review ways to adjust mechanical systems in order to save more energy and reduce utility costs. In addition, the Tryon Palace Foundation owns two historic homes. One has been sold and the other is for sale. Funding from the sales will support Tryon Palace.
“Tryon Palace is an economic engine to the surrounding community and has tremendous local support,” added Kluttz. “I am grateful to Governor McCrory for recognizing the urgency of this need and including adequate funding in his proposed budget. It is imperative that the Legislature do the same to insure that this historic site remains viable.”