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Hart Square village, a trip back to yesteryear in Catawba County, NC,

Written By | Oct 29, 2021
Bob Hart, Hart Square Village, North Carolina, Catawba County

VALE, NC: The greatest pleasure a writer can have is discovering truly remarkable patriotic, Christian Americans. The late great Dr. Robert “Bob” Hart is one such person. Besides treating the ill and delivering babies all over his part of North Carolina, he also left a remarkable legacy in his little town of sorts, Hart Square village.

Dr. Hart began Hart Square village in 1973 without really intending to.

Purchasing a 200-acre property near Vale, North Carolina, in the 1960s, Dr. Hart wanted to create a wildlife preserve. A long-time friend of Dr. Hart suggested that an old, dilapidated log cabin would “look great on the new pond you put in.”

The “Hunsucker Cabin” was moved to the then intended nature preserve.

After rebuilding the log cabin near the pond, that same friend asked if Dr. Hart wanted the barn as well. Again, the reasoning is that “he had to have a barn.”

An outhouse and well house soon followed.

Eventually, St. Mark’s Chapel was built and consecrated by the church. Thus, the Hart grandchildren were baptized there.

Hart Square Village, Catawba County, NC, Bob Hart

St. Mark’s Chapel alter

Hart Square village Grows

Once the word got out, people started calling Dr. Hart, suggesting adding the cabin on their property to his collection. As a result, Hart Square village now has over 100 buildings on Dr. Hart’s 200-acre property. It is said to be the most extensive collection of period buildings in the country. Walking into Hart Square is stepping into a typical North Carolina village from the 1700s – 1800s.

Most of them came from within just five or six miles of Vale, North Carolina. Two of the oldest homes in the village are the “The Propst House,” dating back to 1792, and “The Hartzoge House,” dating back to 1763.

Dr. Hart looked over the numerous structures he had collected and thought a festival might be a great idea.

He invited some friends to tour his little village and join him in a pig roast leading to the now annual festival, Hart Square Festival.

Walking the paths that wind through the village, there are many pieces of bygone days. A local blacksmith shop, sawmill, general store, leather goods store, the list goes on. Visitors feel like they’ve stepped back in time as their ears pick up on old-time fiddling music and their noses take in the smell of wood fire smoke.

Dr. Hart wanted his Hart Square village to live on long after he was gone.

Hence, the Hart Square Foundation, a non-profit organization, maintains the village and the preservation of Hart Square for generations to come. It also offers educational programs and historical events throughout the calendar year: a small paid staff and hundreds of volunteers specializing in historic preservation, construction, and crafts.

Hart Square is ordinarily open to the general public only once a year, on the fourth Saturday of October. However, there’s now the opportunity for people to become members of the Hart Square Foundation.

Members have access to the village more often through a series of special events. (see below)

These funds provide the opportunity to share the history and beauty of the village. In addition, the membership revenue continues the preservation and maintenance of the structures and their interiors.

Everyone in Catawba County has a Bob Hart story.

And many of them surround Bob Hart’s lovely and very understanding wife, Rebecca Holstein-Hart. All around the world, men can come up with some pretty crazy ideas. Thank God for women like Rebecca Hart who continue to stand like Dr. Bob Hart when we go off on a tangent.

She stood by and understood a truly remarkable accomplishment of one man’s dream.

What Bob Hart and his family did is truly remarkable on many levels.

There is an old expression that goes, “Life was more simple back then.” But, staying alive by feeding your family and keeping them warm and healthy was no simple task. It was a constant struggle bringing food to the table, stoking wood fires in the home while making sure nobody was sick. Or you were caring for those that were.

In these times we now live it is so important to reflect on just how difficult life was for those who came before us. People pulled together for survival. They had to. United they stood, divided they would fall.

Bob Hart passed away on March 15, 2020.

Everybody involved agrees there wouldn’t be a Hart Square Village were it not for Dr. Hart. There wouldn’t be a festival, either, were it not for him and the hundreds of volunteers and artisans who gather to share what life may have been like in North Carolina in the 19th century.

Those who were there back in 2019 might remember Dr. Hart in his signature red suspenders bouncing along in his golf cart supervising the event, making sure everyone has a good time.

Granddaughter Rebecca Hart now wears Bob’s red suspenders, stepping into that role and continuing the traditions that are the heart of Hart Square.

Bob Hart desired to die at Hart Square village, so his family brought him to his favorite cabin by one of the lakes he had dug so many years previously, where he passed away peacefully.  Gone, but never to be forgotten.

If you never got to meet Bob Hart while he was with us, this is a pretty good video of him:

“Hart Square” – Our State Magazine, UNC-TV


The annual Hart Square Festival continues after the loss of its founder.

Upcoming events include Hart Square Ceili (Nov. 9th), Paul Hobbs Wine Dinner (Nov.11th), and Christmas in the Village (Dec. 4th and 5th.).  Hart Square does not offer public admission unless you are a ticket holder.  We are open Monday-Friday 9 am-5 pm for members only.  Click here to join today.

For More information, send an email, or call 828-528-5029


Read more from Mark Schwendau.

About the author:

Mark Schwendau is a conservative Christian patriot and retired technology professor (CAD-CAM and web development). He prides himself on his critical thinking ability. Schwendau has had a long sideline of newspaper editorial writing where he used the byline, “bringing little known facts to people who want to know the truth.”

Mark is “on alternative free speech social media platforms after lifetime bans from Facebook and Twitter and shadow bans from Instagram and Fox News commenting.

His website is www.IDrawIWrite.Tech

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Mark Schwendau

Mark Schwendau is a Christian conservative patriot and retired technology professor (CAD-CAM and web development) who prides himself on his critical thinking ability. Schwendau has had a long sideline of newspaper editorial writing where he used the byline, “- bringing little known facts to people who simply want to know the truth.” Mark is on alternative free speech social media platforms after lifetime bans from Facebook and Twitter and shadow bans from Instagram and Fox News commenting. His website is www.IDrawIWrite.Tech