HILLSBOROUGH Artifacts including photographs, letters, currency, and a cannonball were displayed in Ayr Mount last month before the items, along with letters from the public and the mayor of Hillsborough, are placed in a time capsule and buried later this year.
The time capsule is meant to be opened in 2115.
The historic Hillsborough home, built by William Kirkland in 1815, is celebrating its 200th anniversary this year with events including the time capsule burial, a benefit dinner, and a ball. Specialized tours will be given on certain days in June and October, and the house will be decorated for the holidays in early December.
Approximately 30 people attended the time capsule presentation. Along with viewing the items to be buried in the time capsule, visitors could also write letters on acid-free, lignin-free paper. Mayor Tom Stevens wrote a letter to the 2115 mayor of Hillsborough explaining what life in the town is like today and speculating about how the town will change in the next 100 years.
“A lot of [the items going in the time capsule] have to be wrapped carefully,” said Schatzie Crowther, the visitor services coordinator at Ayr Mount. “You have to make sure everything’s wrapped for preservation and conservation, so that’ll all take place when people aren’t standing around.”
She would not say where the capsule will be buried in for security reasons.
The one-mile Poet’s Walk surrounds Ayr Mount. It is a public trail that circles the house and runs along the Eno River. Guided tours of the house are offered regularly, and the site can be rented out for special events such as weddings.
Ayr Mount is currently owned by the non-profit Classical American Homes Preservation Trust, created by Richard Jenrette in 1993. Jenrette bought the house from the Kirkland family in 1985.
Kirkland, who was born in Ayr, Scotland, lived in Hillsborough and was a merchant, tanner, and moneylender. He made enough money from these practices to purchase land in Hillsborough and build Ayr Mount. He had 14 children, and the family continued to own the house and reside in it until selling it to Jenrette.
“(Ayr Mount is) very much part and parcel of our history,” Stevens said. “William Kirkland was a wealthy merchant, and Hillsborough is in many ways a seat of civilization for the center part of North Carolina, and so the prosperity of Hillsborough had a lot to do with the prosperity of William Kirkland.”
“Ayr Mount and the (Orange County) speedway and all these properties from the Classical American Preservation Trust are vitally important, maybe even more so now today than they were 200 years ago, because of the generosity of the trust and making all the land available to citizens as part of the speedway trail and the Poet’s Walk and… being an amenity that’s not just preserved for future generations but that people can come enjoy 365 days a year,” Steven said. “It’s a very special place, and we do not take the generosity of the trust for granted.”