From Petition Organizer: From the moment Gov. McCrory unveiled his proposed NC budget on March 20 -- which called for the closure of the President James K. Polk State Historic Site, along with three other sites and a history museum -- supporters sprung into action to KEEP POLK OPEN! Knowing the North Carolina General Assembly was focused on cutting numerous programs in tandem with reforming the state's tax code, members of the Polk Memorial Support Group wasted no time getting its message out in various ways. The support group's Facebook page lit up with comments and shares within minutes of the announcement. We changed our website, www.presjkpolk.com to www.keeppolkopen.com and populated it with lawmakers' contact information and sample letters. We started this petition and circulated paper petitions throughout the community. We mailed and handed out thousands of postcards with a QR code to the online petition to residents of Pineville, NC (where the site is located), supporters, newsletter subscribers and each member of the NC General Assembly. We made yard signs with the QR code and banners with the URL that were placed at the site's entrance on a busy road with high visibility. We posted Facebook ads, one of which coincided with the opening of the George Bush presidential library, to spread the message that this humble presidential birthplace was under threat of closure. We utilized Twitter, using the hashtags #polksite, #keeppolkopen and #museumsadvocacy to promote the petition. We created an e-newsletter in Mail Chimp targeted to petition signers, newsletter subscribers and people who subscribed via our website and Facebook pages. Our engagement rate on Facebook skyrocketed from less than 100 likes on March 20 to 825 likes today, and our reach has exceeded 77,000. Perhaps our most successful effort was the huge amount of media coverage we received when the Secretary of Cultural Resources, Susan Kluttz, visited the site with other state officials on April 30. A third-grade class from Pineville Elementary School arrived with signs, a chant ("Keep Polk Open!") and even a video to picket officials to keep the site open. Also in attendance were reenactors volunteers, parents, local school officials and costumed interpreters. Just about every local media outlet covered the event, along with a few from other communities. We also got media coverage in several national outlets, such as the Huffington Post and Boston Globe. Most importantly, however, we kept our supporters informed and engaged throughout ever step of the process. Lastly, we used our enhanced visibility to promote the site and also to champion the causes of other sites facing possible closure by cross-promoting their petitions and events. We will use this increased awareness to engage the community to continue supporting the site and its events.
The President James K. Polk State Historic Site, located in Pineville, NC near Charlotte, could close for at least two years due to funding cuts in both Governor Pat McCrory's and the NC Senate's recommended budgets. It is the state's only presidential historic site. This action will deny thousands of public, private and home school children the opportunity to experience hands-on history that can never, ever be taught in a classroom. Cost savings involved in mothballing the site would be negligible, and the educational, historical and economic value of the site cannot be quantified. It is up to members of the North Carolina General Assembly and the Governor to restore state funding for this precious cultural and educational resource.
The site tells the story of James K. Polk, our nation's 11th president, who is widely considered the greatest president never to seek a second term. This "One-Term Wonder" nearly doubled the size of our nation by annexing the Oregon Territory and adding California and New Mexico to our borders. He re-established an independent treasury, reduced tariffs and created the Department of the Interior. All in just four years.
Colonial-era buildings, artifacts, a working garden, as well as a museum, tell the story of Polk's life in the early 1800s in Mecklenburg County. More than 15,000 visitors come to the site each year to attend living history demonstrations, community events, camps for kids, 18th century cooking demonstrations and educational programming. It's a required field trip for Charlotte-Mecklenburg (CMS) third-graders, and the site welcomed more than 3,100 of them last year. That's 20 percent of all CMS third-graders.
Please join us in urging the North Carolina General Assembly and Governor McCrory to KEEP POLK OPEN! Visit our website and Facebook page to learn more. We are also on Twitter.