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Our Programs

​Guided Tours

We invite guests of all ages to step back in time, to 1779, to experience everyday life in the federal-style home of Hugh and Isabella Torance and their son, James Torrence's mercantile store. Our experienced docents will guide you through time on a living history adventure as you tour the property, inside the homesite and visit the store. Learn about Hugh Torance and his family. Their connections to other prominent figures and families, historic sites, and important historical events spans six generations of Torance descendants who owned the property.  

Student Group Tour

​Private Tours

Outside of our normal Store hours, we welcome public or private school, homeschool, daycare and summer camp field trip groups, businesses and civic organizations, and private special event rental requests with 8 or more guests year-round!



With an expertly accessioned collection of antiques, our Store offers a rare display of the same mercantile goods on its shelves that were referenced on the last pages of James Torrence's mercantile inventory records in 1825. The Store also offers sundries like snacks and beverages, local goods like honey and lavender, artisan gifts, kids toys & costumes, historical books and so much more! The Store is open to the public every Sunday from 1:00pm to 4:00pm, February 1st through December 15th.

Special Events

Outside of our normal Store hours, we welcome public or We host historical holiday celebrations, colonial cooking and craft demonstrations, ghost tours and HEARTS Happenings events throughout the year. All our events are free and open to the public. Check out our Events page for more details about upcoming events and to reserve your free tickets!

Preservation and Conservation

We strive for continued historic preservation and ecological conservation on our site and in the surrounding region. Working alongside planners and developers and through the support of HEARTS Circle members, we continue to advocate for the preservation of our important community sites and their stories. We strongly believe historic places can be preserved and add value to a thoughtful development plan and encourage historic preservation through reuse and rehabilitation, community involvement to prevent gentrification. If you know of a historic site in jeopardy within the Lake Norman region, please connect with us.

Our Mission
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Travel Through Time Like Never Before

Nothing compares to immersing yourself in the past to see new perspectives. HEARTS follows stories and history connected to this land from prehistory to the present through place-based experiences. These experiences explore and share how nature, history, culture, and the built environment work together to provide concrete context to better understand the deep history of the site. In addition to the rich natural history of the land, HEARTS highlights community connections to the people of the land from the first settlers in 10,000 BC through the modern 21st century.

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Reconnect with Nature on an Ecological Island

The landscape surrounding the historic sites presents a pristine glimpse into the ecology of the wetlands and woodlands for the Piedmont region. A sanctuary from the surrounding development, this land is home to many native and protected species.  

At each HEARTS event, a connection to nature is featured, sharing lore and history. In addition, volunteer opportunities for stewardship, preservation, and conservation are available for individuals and groups of all ages.

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You Can’t Have HEARTS Without the Arts
Narratives are explored in unique and creative ways through site-specific music, dance, poetry, and visual art installations from every genre to share the stories of the land and all the people the land has touched over the past 10,000 years.

  • “Cedar Groove” features live music

  • Poetry and the written word are explored through historic writers and poets encompassing the 18th-21st centuries  

  • Performing arts come alive by infusing dance and dramatic performances, historic reenactments and modern artistic interpretations.

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Connections Through Collections
The Reunion project was created by HEARTS to collect and share stories of all people connected to important sites throughout time. That hope has evolved into an interconnected and ever growing web of collected artifacts, documents, and stories of individuals connected to our site as well as other sites throughout the Catawba Valley Region and spanning history through the 21st century. Our collection of documents and stories of the lives of formerly enslaved people and indigenous people is a key component of the HEARTS mission. For more information, visit the Reunion Project page.

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Where Trails Intersect, People Come Together
We are conveniently located adjacent to the McDowell Greenway, which is planned to continue north as part of the Carolina Thread Trail. We hope to continue to grow our own nature trails, as well as to connect our trails to both the McDowell Creek Greenway and the Torrence Creek Greenway in the future. Our phased plan will offer interpretative signage detailing the native flora and fauna as well as the history of the remaining outbuildings, ruins, and the locations of structures that no longer remain.

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The State’s Oldest Store, New Again

Long forgotten and in disrepair, we worked hard to reopen the Hugh Torance House and Store, the oldest standing store in North Carolina, to the public to assist in ensuring this historical site's sustainability. The hub for all our programming, the Store also features hundreds of local goods and all donations support our continued preservation efforts as well as providing support for local producers, artists and authors. 

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