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Connect Iredell

Never a Fee for History

Sep 17, 2020 05:37PM ● By Alexis Mason

Photo by Isaac Mason

Marcus Garvey once said, “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” It is important to understand how the past has molded the future in order to better understand human nature, to better understand current systems, and to better understand how to make improvements along the way. An appreciation of history goes hand in hand with an appreciation of learning. Local historian and educator, Dr. Steve Hill, has always had an affinity for both. 

As a young man, Dr. Hill gravitated towards items that were reminiscent of times passed. In his youth, he remembers going to flea markets and yard sales to look for old things that shed light on local history in Iredell County. He would even set up displays in his living room with his finds. Eventually, a hobby turned into a passion that led him to college. Dr. Hill later obtained degrees from both Appalachian State University and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in history and school administration. 

“I’ve always lived in Statesville and I’ve had great teachers. My love for social studies and history inspired me to do what I do," Dr. Hill stated.

Serving the Community through Education

Serving the school district for many years, prior to his retirement 10 years ago, Dr. Hill’s most recent position was that of assistant superintendent for middle and high schools at Iredell-Statesville Schools - Statesville, NC. However, after leaving education he had another calling. Over the years, Dr. Hill had collected a very large number of local historical artifacts, which he intended to use to educate the public on local history.

Dr. Hill explained, “Hearing the stories of our local history is very important. It is unfortunate that local history is not taught as frequently. When it comes to the items in my collection, I have always thought the longer I can hold onto something, the more important that it’ll become.”

After many years of collecting, Dr. Hill's items needed a home. In 2009, Mayor Kutteh allowed him to use vacant buildings in the city’s possession to house his collection. The artifacts in the collection have been housed at Mitchell Community College, a warehouse near Black Buick GMC, and the old army store on South Center Street before finding a permanent spot in the old Gordon’s furniture building at 212 North Center Street. 

“The Gordon family, owners of L. Gordon Iron & Metal Company, have let me use their building completely free of charge so that I can display the historical collection. I can’t thank them enough for their generosity," Dr. Hill shared. 

Collection of Historical Artifacts

Dr. Hill’s collection is known as the Statesville Historical Collection. The Statesville Historical Collection, a community history museum, promotes the understanding and preservation of, and respect for, the history of Statesville and surrounding communities in Iredell County, North Carolina. The museum is full of images, artifacts, newspaper clippings, and books written by local authors. This past summer at Connect, we had the opportunity to walk through the museum and see it in all its glory. We learned about important happenings in our community, we learned about motion pictures that were filmed in the county, we learned about professional athletes that grew up in our community, and so much more. 

“We hope they see what a great community we have when visitors step through our doors," added Dr. Hill. “We want them to see how many successful people come from our community. It is my goal to make sure that the collection is protected and that the museum carries on after I am gone.”

When you plan your visit to the Statesville Historical Collection, set aside plenty of time to take in all of the rich history of our area. The museum is now open Wednesday thru Friday, from noon to 4:00 pm. If you can’t make it during their open hours, feel free to call and make an appointment for a time that better suits your availability. Field trips also take place at the collection where local schools bring in students to take a closer look at historical artifacts. Additionally, the museum is free for those who wish to view it.

Dr. Hill concluded by saying, “The museum is free as there should never be a fee for history.”