Presidential memorabilia exhibit at High Point University brings history to life

by Keith Barber

A unique collection of the signatures of all 44 US presidents is featured in “The Historic Memorabilia Exhibition: Office of the U.S. Presidency” currently on display at High Point University’s Sechrest Art Gallery. (courtesy photo)

A unique collection of the signatures of all 44 US presidents is the heart and soul of The Historic Memorabilia Exhibition: Office of the US Presidency currently on display at High Point University’s Sechrest Art Gallery.

Maxine Campbell, the gallery’s curator, said the exhibit represents a beautiful hybrid of art and history.

“You’re really going to experience history in a very direct personal way,” Campbell said. “When you read these letters from every president we’ve ever had, you’re going to take away what our country was founded upon, the greatness of the heritage we have and the richness and the quality of the people that were in office and contributed to our country.”

The collection of presidential memorabilia is on loan from a High Point University student’s parent and will run remain on display through Oct. 13. Campbell said she first became aware of the collection earlier this year, and was impressed by the collection’s sheer elegance.

“Everything is just beautifully presented and there’s documentation with each piece,” Campbell said. “We have a strand of Abraham Lincoln’s hair, the actual pistols Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr used in their famous duel and a triptych featuring the 56 signatures of all the signers of the Declaration of Indpendence. It’s just an amazing collection.”

The originality and rare nature of each of the artifacts has been a hit with visitors to Sechrest Gallery, Campbell said.

Academicians and high school students have been particularly interested in the 65 pieces of presidential memorabilia that includes the signatures of Civil War generals like Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee, as well as Benjamin Franklin.

“People are saying this is the best show we’ve ever had,” Campbell said.

The Sechrest Gallery is open from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday.


Local film director and screenwriter Larry Wright will screen his latest film, Break the Chains, on Saturday, Sept. 17 at the Greensboro Culture Center at 5 p.m. Wright, a veteran director with six feature films to his credit, said the inspiration for the film was borne out of his experiences while working at a group home in the 1980s. The film tells the story of Mr. Cole, a public school teacher who befriends Tony, a 19-year-old living in a group home. The film deals with issues of child abuse, child homelessness and bullying, Wright said. The young actors in the film are all from local high schools, and the crew of Break the Chains is composed of all local talent, Wright said.

“The message is we as people have to start putting our color and religion to the side,” Wright said. “That’s why we are where we are today; color and religion separate us. This film here is going to talk to everybody. Everyone can relate to this story.”

Wright, who also producers plays, said he’s developed a bit of cult following in the Piedmont Triad and he expects a packed house at the Greensboro Culture Center on Saturday evening. One dollar of each ticket sold will go to the Bryan YMCA’s Scholarship Fund. Advance tickets are $5 and $7 at the door. The film is slated to air on WCWG-TV later this year. Wright expressed gratitude for the support of his family, particularly his wife. He said Break the Chains expresses his deep conviction that it’s extremely important to give something back to your community.

“My whole thing is about helping people,” Wright said. “If this film helps one person, I feel like my job has started but it’s not finished.”

wanna go?

Break the Chains screening — Greensboro Cultural Center, 200 North Davie Street; Saturday, Sept. 17 at 5 p.m.

The Historic Memorabilia Exhibition: Office of the US Presidency, Sechrest Art Gallery, High Point University; 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday; exhibition runs through Oct. 13.