Tag Archive | State Historic Sites

Architect David Paton Hired, Dismissed at State Capitol

An 1861 image of the Capitol, now held by the State Archives

An 1861 image of the Capitol, now held by the State Archives

On May 23, 1840, David Paton, supervising architect of the State Capitol, was dismissed just as the structure was nearing completion. While the exterior was designed by New York architects Ithiel Town and Alexander Jackson Davis, Paton, from Scotland, took over the project in September 1834 and played a critical role in refining and shaping the final design of the building and its impressive interior.

A portrait of Paton held by the N.C. Museum of History

A portrait of Paton held by the N.C. Museum of History

Paton’s interior changes made the building more functional while also making its appearance more ornate. His work was appreciated by the commissioners tasked with overseeing the building’s construction and by Raleigh citizens for most of his nearly six years of work on the Capitol. Paton claimed that his services as architect were performed under his private contract with Town and Davis, over and above his work for the state as construction superintendent. The commissioners increased his salary from $3 to $5 per day, but eventually tensions drove the commissioners to let Paton go.

During his tenure, Paton kept meticulous records and extensive correspondence related to the construction of the Capitol.  Those records are in the State Archives.

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Highway Patrol Outfitted in Morehead City

A 1935 Highway Patrol vehicle that is now part of the collection at the N.C. Transportation Museum in Spencer

A 1935 Highway Patrol vehicle that is now part of the collection at the N.C. Transportation Museum in Spencer

On May 20, 1929, the first candidates for the North Carolina State Highway Patrol reported to Camp Glenn in Morehead City. Charles D. Farmer, superintendent of equipment for the State Highway Commission, was selected to serve as captain and commanding officer. Nine lieutenants, one for each of the state’s Highway Division Districts, were appointed to assist in the administration of the patrol. The plan was to hire 27 patrolmen, three for each district. A total of 67 applicants were selected to attend the first highway patrol training school.

The courses for the first class of cadets included Motor Laws, Pistol Marksmanship and Geography of North Carolina. After six weeks, the students with the best records were appointed to the Highway Patrol. The novice patrolmen were issued uniforms and motorcycles. The nine lieutenants received Ford coupes, and Charles Farmer was given a Buick. The entire group embarked on a statewide tour in order to engender support for and confidence in the new program. The 1,028-mile tour took the men from Beaufort to Asheville and back to Raleigh, with many stops along the way. Concluding at the State Capitol, all 37 members of the force took their oaths of office and reported for duty.

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day subscribe by email using the box on the right and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

The Largest Surrender of the Civil War

A painting that depicts Sherman and Johnston meeting at the Bennett farm

A painting that depicts Sherman and Johnston meeting at the Bennett farm

On April 26, 1865, the largest troop surrender of the Civil War took place on farm of James and Nancy Bennett in what was then, Orange County.

Ten days earlier two worn adversaries, Union Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman and Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, along with their escorts, rode out to meet and negotiate the terms for the surrender. By chance, the Bennett farm was located half-way between the Union forces positioned in Raleigh and the Confederate forces encamped in and around Greensboro.

The unveiling of the Bennett House Memorial in 1923. Image from the State Archives

The unveiling of the Bennett House Memorial in 1923. Image from the State Archives

The two generals asked permission to use the farmhouse to conduct their meeting.  The Bennett family, already touched by the war with the loss of both of their sons and a son-in-law, retreated to the separate kitchen building to allow the generals to use  the house. After several days of negotiations, which were complicated by the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, Johnston surrendered his army. Johnston’s forces included all Confederate troops in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, totaling nearly 90,000 soldiers.  The mustering out of the Confederate army took place in Greensboro in early May, where paroles were issued to the soldiers.

Bennett Place became a State Historic Site in 1961.

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The Fall of Raleigh

A Civil War battle flag used by the 18th North Carolina Regiment and now part of the N.C. Museum of History's collection

A Civil War battle flag used by the 18th North Carolina Regiment and now part of the N.C. Museum of History‘s collection

On April 13, 1865, the state capital fell to Union forces under the command of General William T. Sherman. The day before, seeing that Raleigh’s capture was imminent, Governor Zebulon B. Vance crafted plans to surrender the city, with the hope of sparing it from the destruction suffered by other southern capitals captured by Sherman’s army.

Vance appointed commissioners to carry a notice of surrender to Sherman’s headquarters. Among them was former governor David L. Swain. The commissioners delivered the notice but were delayed overnight.  Unaware of the delay, Vance left Raleigh and gave additional instructions for the surrender with Raleigh’s mayor William Harrison.

At the southern edge of Raleigh, Harrison and others met Union cavalry commander General Hugh Judson Kilpatrick. While Swain waited at the Capitol, they offered the surrender of Raleigh, promising no military resistance in exchange for protection of the city. The agreed-upon terms were almost undone by a lone Texas cavalry officer who fired on Kilpatrick’s men. In the scuffle that followed, Kilpatrick’s men captured and hanged the officer. When order was restored, Union soldiers occupied and secured Raleigh.

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The Origins of Archaeology at Town Creek

Archaeologists working at Town Creek in 1957

Archaeologists working at Town Creek in 1957

On April 1, 1937, Lloyd Frutchey, a Montgomery County farmer, conveyed one acre of land containing a Mississippian-era Indian mound to the state of North Carolina for excavation, interpretation and protection.  The area was known as Frutchey State Park until the 1940s, when its name was changed to Town Creek.

Significant work did not get underway to excavate the mound area until November 1939 when the project was approved as a Works Progress Administration program. Some of the best archaeological work performed at the site came during the WPA years, but World War II effectively shut down operations there. Joffre Coe, the original archaeological supervisor of Town Creek and chief archaeologist at UNC, resumed his great interest in the area after the war. Coe worked on the Town Creek project for more than 50 years.

In 1955, Town Creek Indian Mound became North Carolina’s first State Historic Site under the Department of Archives and History. It remains the only site dedicated to interpreting the lives of American Indians. Town Creek includes the preserved mound as well as two reconstructed temples, a burial hut and a mortuary hut.

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For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day, make sure you subscribe by email using the box on the right, and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

Charles Eden Dies Near the Town Named in His Honor

An image of Charles Eden's tomb from the N.C. Museum of History

An image of Charles Eden’s tomb from the N.C. Museum of History

On March 26, 1722, Governor Charles Eden died. Shortly after Eden’s death, the town nearest his home, known as “the Town on Queen Anne’s Creek”, was renamed Edenton in his honor.

Eden was governor of North Carolina during a period of progressive changes.  Although there are few surviving records, he is generally credited with the improvements made during his administration.  Eden’s early life is even more of a mystery than his colonial career.  There are no records of his activities, public or private, prior to his 1713 appointment   to become the governor of North Carolina.

An assembly that Eden called in 1715 passed various far reaching governmental reforms.  The contemporary legal code was revised, taking aim at widespread disturbances that occurred during previous administrations.  With the objective of enhancing trade, immigration and communication, several transportation issues were addressed, including plans to improve existing roads, build new roads and establish shipping channels.  Though a a leader in his church and a devout Anglican, Eden was tolerant of religious diversity and ensured that the colony’s laws reflected that.

In 1889 Eden’s remains and gravestone were moved to St. Paul’s Churchyard in Edenton.

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For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day, make sure you subscribe by email using the box on the right, and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

Edenton Residents Rally to Save Historic Home

A circa 1900-1920 image of the Cupola House from the N.C. Museum of History

A circa 1900-1920 image of the Cupola House from the N.C. Museum of History

On March 10, 1918, Edenton residents formed the Cupola House Association, the earliest community preservation effort in North Carolina. The association hoped to save the structure from further demise after the owners sold interior woodwork to the Brooklyn Museum.

Originally built for Francis Corbin in 1758, the Cupola House is widely considered one of North Carolina’s most significant early dwellings. In 1777 Corbin’s heirs sold the home to Dr. Samuel Dickinson, whose heirs lived there for 141 years. Over time the house fell into disrepair as family funds became more limited and the environment took its toll.

After the association was formed on March 10, funds were solicited from local residents, and the association was able to buy back a portion of the woodwork the very next day. By April 25 the association had acquired the house and most of its property. In time the association was able to restore the house, which was used as a county library, tearoom and museum.

The house became a National Historic Landmark—the highest status that the National Park Service bestows on historic buildings—in 1971.

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For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day, subscribe by email using the box on the right and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.