Lafargue and Mitchell Named to Lead Tryon Palace

NEW BERN, N.C. — The North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources (NCDCR) has tapped Philippe Lafargue as Tryon Palace’s new executive director. Deanna Mitchell, the former site manager of the North Carolina State Capitol Historic Site, will serve as the assistant director. Together, they will work in partnership with NCDCR, the Tryon Palace Commission and the Tryon Palace Foundation for continued success engaging the public in the history of North Carolina; with special focus on Tryon Palace and the North Carolina History Center.

NCDCR Secretary Susan Kluttz made the announcement this morning during a special meeting held at the North Carolina History Center. During the announcement, she highlighted that the leadership team will function as a partnership model that will strongly contribute to Tryon Palace’s enduring success. The primary focus of this team will be to collectively maintain Tryon Palace’s mission and extend efforts to focus on fundraising, educational outreach to schools throughout North Carolina and creating more innovative visitor experiences.

“We are delighted to have Philippe and Deanna leading Tryon Palace,” said Kluttz. “Their experience, energy and knowledge will be tremendous assets to this North Carolina treasure. I expect great things will happen with this dynamic team.”

The interview committee for these two leadership positions included: Bill Cannon, chairman of the Tryon Palace Commission; John Ward, vice chairman of the Tryon Palace Commission; Nelson McDaniel, president of the Tryon Palace Foundation; and representatives from NCDCR — chief deputy secretary Karin Cochran and deputy secretary and director of the Office of Archives and History Kevin Cherry, Ph.D. These five members of the interview committee will continue to serve as an Advisory Council over the next 18 months to support the leadership partners of Lafargue and Mitchell as they promote the mission and vision of Tryon Palace during this next chapter. This teamwork among the Commission, Foundation and the Department of Cultural Resources will help confirm Tryon Palace’s role as a significant historic site and museum for the reach across North Carolina and beyond.

“I am very excited to be Tryon Palace’s new executive director,” said Lafargue. “Even though I’ve become very familiar with Tryon Palace in the 24 years that I’ve been here, I continue to be amazed by all the new opportunities to educate around history. History is alive because all of us are making history every day, and I am honored to be part of this new chapter in the life of Tryon Palace.” 

Prior to his appointment to the executive director position, Lafargue assumed the role of acting director in July 2012. His tenure began at Tryon Palace in 1990, when he was appointed as a conservator. In 1995, he was promoted to the position of Technical Services Manager overseeing the overall preservation of buildings and collections. In 1999, Lafargue was appointed deputy director.

Tryon Palace’s executive director is responsible for providing the overall vision and strategic direction across the entire range of activities for the Tryon Palace Commission, staff, Foundation, volunteers and all other Tryon Palace stakeholders. Lafargue will also collaborate on programmatic development and implementation, planning, fiscal and human resources, facilities operations, organization, promotion and marketing.

“Joining the Tryon Palace family is a great honor for me,” said Mitchell, new assistant director at Tryon Palace. “My family has long enjoyed Tryon Palace and New Bern as visitors, and I look forward to working with the team at Tryon Palace to continue the success of this North Carolina gem.” Mitchell’s role as the assistant director will be to partner with Lafargue in site leadership, as well as have direct management over the Collections and Education responsibilities. She will also co-manage development efforts.

Mitchell received her M.A. in History Museum Studies from the Cooperstown Graduate Program in Cooperstown, New  York, and her B.A. in History from Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida. Her 25-year career in public history and museum education includes the Smithsonian Institution, Monticello, McKissick Museum/University of South Carolina, the American Association for State and Local History, North Carolina Museum of History and the North Carolina State Capitol Historic Site.

About Tryon Palace

Tryon Palace, located in New Bern, NC, is part of the Office of Archives and History, an agency of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. Tryon Palace is one of North Carolina’s most significant historic sites. It is the home of the Governor’s Palace, North Carolina’s first colonial and first state capitol, and includes historic buildings, gardens and the North Carolina History Center, which revolutionizes the visitor experience through use of the latest interactive  technology. The History Center includes galleries, a performance hall, the museum store and a waterfront café. Tryon Palace’s mission is to engage present and future generations in the history of North Carolina from early settlement in 1710, the development of statehood and into the mid-twentieth century. It is dedicated to collecting, interpreting and preserving objects, buildings, landscapes and events that enrich understanding of the making of our state and nation.
Tickets and visitor information are available at Tryon Palace, 529 S. Front St., New Bern. For directions and further information about special events, programs or group tours, employment and more, visit our web site: or phone (800) 767-1560 or (252) 639-3500.

About the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources

The N.C. Department of Cultural Resources (NCDCR) is the state agency with a vision to be the leader in using the state’s cultural resources to build the social, cultural and economic future of North Carolina. Led by Secretary Susan Kluttz, NCDCR’s mission is to enrich lives and communities by creating opportunities to experience excellence in the arts, history and libraries in North Carolina that will spark creativity, stimulate learning, preserve the state’s history and promote the creative economy. NCDCR was the first state organization in the nation to include all agencies for arts and culture under one umbrella.

Through arts efforts led by the N.C. Arts Council, the N.C. Symphony and the N.C. Museum of Art, NCDCR offers the opportunity for enriching arts education for young and old alike and spurring the economic stimulus engine for our state’s communities. NCDCR’s Divisions of Archives and Records, Historical Resources, State Historic Sites and State History Museums preserve, document and interpret North Carolina’s rich cultural heritage to offer experiences of learning and reflection. NCDCR’s State Library of North Carolina is the principal library of state government and builds the capacity of all libraries in our state to develop and to offer access to educational resources through traditional and online collections including genealogy and resources for the blind and physically handicapped.

NCDCR annually serves more than 19 million people through its 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, the nation’s first state-supported Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the N.C. Arts Council and the State Archives. NCDCR champions our state’s creative industry that accounts for more than 300,000 jobs and generates nearly $18.5 billion in revenues. For more information, please call (919) 807-7300 or visit