Faculty & Student Projects

Lucas Mansion exteriorSustainable Technology and the Built Environment Graduate Research

Students in Appalachian’s Sustainable Technology and the Built Environment department have worked on a variety of research and construction projects at the Lucas Mansion, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Leah Simmerman '17 conducted an extensive building study that evaluated the Lucas Mansion’s architectural and historical significance and durability. Simmerman's master's thesis, Abbreviated Historical Structure report on the Lucas Mansion in Hiddenite, North Carolina was supervised by Building Science Program Director and Associate Professor Jason Miller and is available online.

Additionally, Reid Anderson '17 completed a white paper on the efficiency of the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning for the Lucas Mansion.


Lucas Mansion interior renderingInterior Design Renderings for Lucas Mansion

Appalachian’s interior design program emphasizes environmental responsibility, community service, global issues and universal design, which is design that accommodates people of all abilities. Working in collaboration with Master's student Leah Simmerman, senior Nicole Long '17 created renderings for a new interior design of the Lucas Mansion Gallery on the second floor of the Lucas Mansion.


Ashton Durham videoPromotional Video

Ashton Durham, a Commercial Photography student at Appalachian State, produced a promotional video as part of her Advanced Video Production class. It has been shown at events and fundraisers at the Center. The video highlights the history of the Center and their current efforts to support the arts through interviews with staff and participants in of one of the Center's workshops.


Hiddenite, NC attractions mapResearch and Design

Appalachian students work with the Hiddenite Arts & Heritage Center to help faculty with programs and projects including graphic design, program development, research, and grant writing. Projects have involved researching funding opportunities and designing promotional materials in print and on the web. Pictured is a map of select attractions in Hiddenite and Alexander County by James Mallette '18. 





oral historyOral Histories

In an ongoing attempt to uncover more of the rich history of Hiddenite, students from the Appalachian Studies graduate and undergraduate program, including Sammi Eubanks and Adam Sheffield, have recorded oral histories of Lucas family descendants and Hiddenite elders with assistance from Associate Professor of Appalachian Studies and Co-Director of University Documentary Film Services Tom Hansell. For an honors project in Dr. Andrea Burns's course, history student Heather Arledge worked with commercial photo student Seth Grant to record an oral history video of Shirley Duncan (photo left) and Lynn Hill (photo right), daughters of Hiddenite Arts & Heritage Center founders R.Y. and Eileen Lackey Sharpe.


Public History students viewing exhibit caseMuseum Education in Public History

The Public History program at Appalachian emphasizes hands-on practical training with rigorous study of public history theory and methodology. As part of this program, students in Dr. Andrea Burns’s class, Education in Museums and Public History Sites, visited the Hiddenite Center for tours led by Center staff members Allison Houchins and Geneva Mays. As part of their coursework, the students produced research papers on the Lucas Mansion. These students also created educational materials in alignment with NC school standards for teachers of grades K-12 to utilize before, during and after visits to the Center.


Historic photo of the Lucas MansionArchival of Historic Photos and Documents

Sharpe Chair research assistant James Mallette ‘18 and intern Tabitha Bodoh documented historic photos, newspapers, and other files related to Hiddenite’s history for inclusion in the Center’s permanent collections. The photos were displayed in a special 40th anniversary exhibition at the Center in May 2021.



Wyatt Smith guiding the virtual tourLucas Mansion Tour Video

In Spring 2021, Hiddenite Arts and Heritage Center staff member Wyatt Smith was filmed leading a virtual tour of the Lucas Mansion. The tour, recorded and produced by James Mallette ‘18, focuses on the life and possessions of “Diamond” Jim Lucas, the mansion’s namesake. The space dedicated to the historic Lucas Mansion comprises the majority of the first floor of the Center, however, the entire building was Diamond Jim’s home in the late 1910s until his death in 1952.



Members of Diyé drumming while Sherone Price dancesDiyé Performance Video

The Sharpe Chair and the Center often coordinate to host events for the Alexander County Schools system. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these events had to be held virtually. An educational performance by Appalachian State’s Diyé African Drum and Dance Ensemble was filmed to be played by teachers for their students in May 2021. Directors Khalid Saleem and Sherone Price along with drummers Jeffrey Dickens, Ericka Patillo and Eden Brittain play traditional African songs while explaining their context and the drums being played.


Clate Childers demonstrating blacksmithingHeritage Fair Video

The Heritage Fair is the Center’s longest-running event. Its aim is to reveal the ways of life in the Hiddenite area in the 1850s. Traditional crafts such as leatherwork and blacksmithing are demonstrated live for the audience. However, the 2021 event could not be held in person, so a virtual Heritage Fair video was filmed to continue the long-running tradition. The five video series features pottery by Sally Warren, blacksmithing by Clate Childers, toymaking by Sandra Gwaltney, Cherokee storytelling and woodcarving by Freeman Owle and leatherwork by Yolanda Prince.


Screenshot of Hiddenite geology educational websiteGeology Educational Materials

Appalachian’s Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences works closely with the Center to develop programs and materials that highlight the geological importance of the Hiddenite region. Lecturer and Outreach Coordinator Marta Toran leads the development of a website that provides educational resources about the area’s geology geared towards the general public and K12 teachers and students. The website includes interviews conducted by Anna Throckmorton '21 with experts on local geologic history including Dr. Michael Wise from the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History; geologists Ed Spear and Mark Jacobson, and Hiddenite Center Curator and Education Director Allison Houchins.


Puppet headEducational Puppet Heads

Assistant Professor Travis Donovan '04 worked with sculpture class in the Art Department to design and 3d print heads of people who are historically important in Hiddenite. Students used archival photos to create puppet heads that will be used for educational storytelling programs about the geology and history of the area.



Veteran’s Event

Intern Tabitha Bodoh helped coordinate two community events honoring veterans in May 2021. Veterans received a free ticket to the first event, the Porta-Pit Chicken Sale, and all other ticket proceeds were donated to VetCom in support of Alexander County Veterans. The second event, the Veteran’s Cookout, was a free event for veterans and their families featuring live music, activities, and prizes.