Terra Cotta Day Festival
residents reunite to celebrate family and friends
Over the course of almost a century from the early days of the company to the factory closing, nearly 500 families called Terra Cotta home. The community has been reduced from around 100 original houses to a few houses across two blocks. Many of the original residents have relocated to other areas of North Carolina or other states. However, community members still regularly visit, even if they have since moved. The community hosts an annual Terra Cotta Day Festival, with music, food, and refreshments for people with family ties to the community. Members of the community and their families gather to remember their old neighborhood and share stories passed down through generations. The event features good food, entertainment, recognition ceremonies for elders, and lots of reminiscing. In many ways, the festival functions as a large family reunion, as younger generations return to the neighborhood and honor their family’s history.
From the Residents
The annual Terra Cotta Day Festival and Terra Cotta Heritage Museum both preserve history and share the story of this community. Dennis Waddell, Jacqueline Lyles. Larry Butler, and Christina Lyles Melvin talk about the festival, the origins of the museum, and the importance of Terra Cotta to them.
origins of the Terra Cotta Heritage Foundation and Museum
Former resident Dennis Waddell founded the Terra Cotta Heritage Foundation to document, preserve, and share the legacy of Terra Cotta. In addition to funding the Terra Cotta Day Festival, the Foundation has leased one of the remaining homes in the Pines section of the neighborhood and created a museum. The exhibits housed in the Terra Cotta Heritage Museum are the result of a collaboration between the Foundation and UNCG public history students. The exhibits feature images, objects, and audio clips from oral histories, and showcases Terra Cotta’s story and voices. The museum invites visitors to explore the powerful ways that Terra Cotta residents sustained their community and asks visitors to consider how they can contribute to their own communities.
Click below to study up on school life in Terra Cotta from the small Rosenwald school to integration across North Carolina public schools.
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