1. It’s a piece of the past preserved for the public
Historic Rural Hill, on Neck Road in southwestern Huntersville, is a 265-acre part of what at one time was a 12,000-acre estate that dates back to the 1760s. Major John Davidson, a member of the militia during the Revolutionary War, acquired the property in 1765 and built a cabin. In 1788, he constructed a grand plantation home called Rural Hill. That home was destroyed in a fire in 1886, but remnants of that structure, including ornate brick columns, are still preserved on the property.
2. The county-owned property is a festival venue
For generations, members of the Davidson family – with ancestral roots in Dundee, Scotland – lived on and farmed the land. In 1989, the last remaining direct descendants of Major John Davidson worked with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission to sell Rural Hill to the county. At that time, the Catawba Valley Scottish Society (CVSS) was looking for an appropriate place to establish a Scottish heritage event, and through a partnership with the county secured the property as the location for the Rural Hill Scottish Festival and Loch Norman Games.
3. Estate evolves into a cultural and education center
Historic Rural Hill, in addition to being the new name for the CVSS, is the largest and oldest publicly-owned historic site in Mecklenburg County. The property is a nature preserve, school field trip designation and a working farm that hosts a variety of events throughout the year. The 2013 opening of the 4,000-square-foot Rural Hill Cultural Center, which features May Davidson Hall and a Scottish heritage room, increased the property’s attraction as an events venue.
4. Scottish Festival endures as the main attraction
The Scottish Festival that features the Loch Norman Highland Games is the biggest event of the year at Rural Hill. The local festival has become the state’s largest celebration of Scottish culture and one of the premier athletic and musical showcases for Scottish traditions on the East Coast. The 2018 festival, celebrating the event’s 25th anniversary, will be held April 20-22.
5. Events throughout the year help pay the bills
The Amazing Maize Maze, held for six weeks every fall, is the biggest revenue-generating event for Rural Hill, according to Executive Director Jeff Fissel. Other gatherings, including the North Carolina Brewers and Music Festival (May 11-12), an oyster roast (November), the annual Sheep Dog Trials (November) and other special activities – including food truck rallies and Scotch Whisky-tasting dinners – help raise money to keep the historic farm in operation. Complete details about all Historic Rural Hill events are available at www.ruralhill.net.