Secotan and BHS connection explored

Published 2:40 pm Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Staff Writer

If a coalition of groups gets PotashCorp’s permission to excavate portions of company-owned land at Bath’s Beasley Point, it will need some place to house, clean and catalog the artifacts it uncovers.
The historic, former Bath High School property could come in handy for just that purpose, said Tom Thompson, Beaufort County’s economic developer.
“The high school in Bath could be used as what I would call a current-event museum, which is where relics that are uncovered and cleaned and curated could be displayed for the public,” Thompson said.
Thompson is working to obtain PotashCorp’s permission for the dig, in concert with area historians and archaeologists, the Beaufort County commissioners and other local officials.
The county commissioners are awaiting the company’s response to an inquiring letter sent by Jerry Langley, commissioners’ chairman, who asked that the excavation be allowed to proceed.
Supported by historians and archaeologists, Thompson and his allies contend the Beasley Point site is the most-likely contender for the Secotan Indian village rendered in world-famous watercolors by English painter John White during the early colonial period.
The Beasley Point area was the documented site of a plantation owned by colonial Gov. Charles Eden. Later, the property was owned by Edward Salter, a well-to-do merchant who was believed to have been a member of the pirate Blackbeard’s crew.
Because of its proximity to so much history, and the space available there, the old Bath High School is widely seen as the ideal place for “curating” artifacts like those already unearthed at Beasley Point in a previous dig, according to Thompson, who forwards that viewpoint along with other leaders in the Beaufort County Economic Development Commission and the nonprofit Beaufort County Committee of 100.
“There could be several rooms dedicated to a current-dig type museum where they show what we’ve (unearthed) in the past month or two months,” he said. “So the public, any time they went there, would see a new display.”
Recently, Thompson made a presentation on the EDC’s vision for BHS to the nonprofit Bath High School Preservation, which is working to restore the school with an eye toward reopening it for public use.
BHS Preservation acquired the school complex from the Town of Bath and is working to solidify relationships that could lead to the renovation of the structure.
The BHS board took Thompson’s proposals under consideration, but it had taken no action on his ideas at last report, publicity chairwoman Marti Buchanan told the Washington Daily News last month.
“I don’t know that we have any kind of firm proposal to actually consider,” Mike Godley, BHS treasurer and vice president, said Tuesday.
“(Thompson) certainly presented an interesting possibility and something that, down the road, we may have something firm to work with,” Godley continued. “We’ll certainly stay in touch with this organization, stay in touch with the Committee of 100 or the Secotan project, whichever it happens to be.”
BHS has been negotiating with the Historic Bath Foundation and will probably offer news related to those negotiations at its next meeting, Godley said.
The BHS board’s next meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Sept. 14 at Bath Christian Church.