BOONE, N.C. — Thanks to a team from Appalachian State University, visitors at Moses H. Cone Memorial Park, located off the Blue Ridge Parkway, will have the opportunity to learn more about the history of the park’s Flat Top Manor.
Dr. Beth Davison, professor of sociology, co-director of Appalachian’s University Documentary Film Services and director of Appalachian’s interdisciplinary studies program, has released a new educational video — produced in partnership with the National Park Service (NPS) — which is now showing in the manor’s minitheater. The theater was funded by an Appalachian Chancellor’s Innovation Scholars Program grant in 2018.
Tina White, a representative from the Blue Ridge Parkway, said, “For the first time ever, visitors will have an opportunity to get a short overview of the historical significance of the manor. This National Park Service site has been greatly enhanced by the productions and we could not have offered these additions without the wonderful partnership with Appalachian.”
The film, titled “A History of Moses H. Cone Estate Memorial Park: From Private Retreat to Public Pleasure Ground,” includes theatrical readings, historical pictures, excerpts from oral histories and reenactments of the construction and early days of the estate.
This is the second film to be shown in the minitheater, the furniture for which was constructed and designed by Appalachian’s applied design students. The first film shown was an edited version of “The Denim Dynasty” — Davison’s documentary about the history and legacy of Moses Cone, whose textile company was a world leader in producing denim.
“Once we had the minitheater in place, the idea was to add films that can be rotated,” said Davison, who collaborated on the production of the video with Dr. Derek Davidson, assistant professor in the university’s Department of Theatre and Dance.
Students, faculty and alumni from several disciplines participated in the film’s production.
“Beth thought using real people, rather than image after image of photos, would make the documentary more lively, dynamic and show off the manor more effectively,” Davidson said. “Martha Marking, one of the professors in our department, found costumes and appropriate props, and brought her expertise to hair styles.”
Appalachian alumnus Maurice Ewing ’69, of Blowing Rock, narrated the film, and students from Davidson’s theater class volunteered as silent actors.
Ryan Dozer, a junior from Raleigh majoring in music industry studies, composed and recorded the film’s soundtrack, and Maleek Loyd ’18, who holds a B.S. in communications, electronic media/broadcasting, was the director of photography for the project.
The film’s script was written by Ewing, Davison and Appalachian alumna Carrie Streeter ’12, who earned an M.A. in public history in 2012 and is pursuing her Ph.D. in U.S. history at the University of California, San Diego.
Streeter provided much of the research for the film. She conducted a two-year research project for the NPS about the Cone family with Dr. Neva Specht, dean of Appalachian’s College of Arts and Sciences and professor in the college’s Department of History.
For her next NPS project, Davison is planning a documentary about the Blue Ridge Parkway’s agricultural leases. “That is a piece of parkway history most people don’t know about,” she said.
“Farmland with cows and livestock was a part of the original plan for the parkway, providing scenic landscapes for visitors and a valuable service for farmers, giving them an affordable option for grazing their cows,” she added.
“Students who participate in these productions will have hands-on learning experiences and will additionally learn about the area’s history and culture, as well as its environmental issues,” Davison said. “Documentary work sends students out in the community to engage with community partners and have conversations with community members they normally do not encounter.”
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About Appalachian State University Documentary Film Services
University Documentary Film Services at Appalachian State University teaches, engages in and presents documentary work grounded in collaborative local and global partnerships. Photography, film/video, audio and narrative writing are used to capture and convey memory, life, research, theory and culture. Additionally, the program provides professional consultation to students, faculty and staff engaged in documentary projects; maintains an archive of campus documentary work; hosts workshops for the campus community; and coordinates screenings of both finished and ongoing documentaries produced by Appalachian faculty and staff, as well as visiting professional documentarians. It is a unit within Appalachian's University College. Learn more at https://doc.appstate.edu.
About the Department of Theatre and Dance
The Department of Theatre and Dance is one of seven departments housed in Appalachian’s College of Fine and Applied Arts. Its mission is to facilitate transformative experiences for students and the public, which cultivate compassionate, creative and collaborative communities through theatre and dance. The department also offers coursework for integrated learning through the arts to the general university student population. Its dynamic co-curricular production program provides exemplary theatre and dance experiences to departmental students, the university community and the region. Learn more at https://theatreanddance.appstate.edu.
About the College of Fine and Applied Arts
Appalachian State University’s College of Fine and Applied Arts is a dynamic and innovative group of seven academic departments, bringing together a variety of perspectives, experiences and real-world education to provide unique opportunities for student success. The college has more than 3,000 undergraduate and graduate majors. Its departments are Applied Design, Art, Communication, Military Science and Leadership, Sustainable Development, Sustainable Technology and the Built Environment, and Theatre and Dance. Learn more at https://faa.appstate.edu.
About the Department of History
The Department of History offers a broad curriculum in local, national, regional and world history at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, which encourages history majors to develop a comprehensive approach to human problems. The study of history is an essential part of a liberal arts education and offers valuable preparation for many careers, such as law, journalism, public history, public service and business, as well as in teaching and the advanced discipline of history. Learn more at https://history.appstate.edu.
About the College of Arts and Sciences
The College of Arts and Sciences is home to 16 academic departments, one stand-alone academic program, two centers and one residential college. These units span the humanities and the social, mathematical and natural sciences. The College of Arts and Sciences aims to develop a distinctive identity built upon our university's strengths, traditions and unique location. The college’s values lie not only in service to the university and local community, but through inspiring, training, educating and sustaining the development of its students as global citizens. There are approximately 6,100 student majors in the college. As the college is also largely responsible for implementing Appalachian's general education curriculum, it is heavily involved in the education of all students at the university, including those pursuing majors in other colleges. Learn more at https://cas.appstate.edu.
About University College
Formed in 2007, University College consists of the university’s general education program, faculty and student support, and co-curricular programming and support – all designed to support the work of students both inside and outside the classroom. All students at Appalachian begin their education in University College and benefit from its programs until they graduate. Learn more at https://universitycollege.appstate.edu.
About Appalachian State University
As the premier public undergraduate institution in the state of North Carolina, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls more than 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.