North Carolina: Other Historic Sites Summary

  • Last updated on November 10, 2022

A list of important historic sites in North Carolina.

Bentonville Battlefield

Location: Along state routes 1008 and 1009, Newton Grove and Bentonville, Johnston County

Relevant issues: Civil War, military history

Web site: www.ah.dcr.state.nc.us/sections/hs/bentonvi/bentonvi.htm

Statement of significance: The Battle of Bentonville, where two military titans of the Civil War–Generals William Tecumseh Sherman and Joseph E. Johnston–faced each other for the final time in a major battle, was the last occasion on which a Confederate army mounted an all-out offensive during the Civil War. The loss here was the Confederates’ death knell, for it fatally weakened their last mobile field army.

Bethabara

Location: 2147 Bethabara Road, Winston-Salem, Forsyth County

Relevant issues: Colonial America, European settlement

Statement of significance: Bethabara was the first colonial townsite established in the Carolina Piedmont. It was intended to be a temporary town from which the central Moravian town of Salem and outlying farming communities would be developed within the Moravian lands of Wachovia. However, Bethabara continued in operation as a Moravian community long after Salem was es-tablished. Bethabara was the only “House of Passage” built by the Moravians at any of their colonial settlements in the New World. Archaeological investigations have demonstrated that the Bethabara archaeological remains at the townsite are intact and this work has contributed to a significant understanding of the Moravian culture, in particular the manufacture of Moravian pottery.

Biltmore Estate

Location: Biltmore Plaza, Asheville, Buncombe County

Relevant issues: Science and technology

Statement of significance: In 1888, George W. Vanderbilt (1862-1914) began the purchase of over 125,000 acres of farms, woodlands, and forested mountains. In 1892, Vanderbilt appointed as superintendent of his forest Gifford Pinchot (1865-1946), who proved for the first time that scientific forest management was profitable. In 1898, Vanderbilt established the Biltmore Forest School, the first of its kind. On the estate is Biltmore House, designed by Richard Morris Hunt (1827-1895) who was immensely popular among the wealthy families then building great estates in the manner of late Gothic French chateaux. It is now a house museum still owned by the original family.

Blackwell and Company Tobacco Factory

Location: Durham, Durham County

Relevant issues: Business and industry

Statement of significance: From 1874 to 1957, this factory was the home of Bull Durham Smoking Tobacco, the first truly national tobacco brand. W. T. Blackwell and Company introduced production, packaging, and marketing techniques that made Bull Durham a part of American industrial history and folklore.

Cape Hatteras Light Station

Location: Cape Hatteras, Buxton, North Carolina

Relevant issues: Naval history

Web site: www.nps.gov/caha/

Statement of significance: Cape Hatteras is a prominent projection on North Carolina’s famous Outer Banks–the long, low stretches of sandy beaches that protect the state’s mainland, but that have been the bane of existence for mariners for centuries. Protection was provided at the “Graveyard of the Atlantic,” as the cape has been known for years, in 1803, when the first lighthouse was built. In 1854, it was heightened to 150 feet, and in 1870, the current brick tower was erected. Its height of 208 feet makes it the tallest lighthouse in the nation, and its well-known black-and-white spiral bands, its daymark, make it a prominent landmark during daylight hours. In addition to the lighthouse, supporting structures–including the oil house and both the principal and assistant keeper’s dwellings–also survive. All are popular daytime visitor attractions at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, but at night the lighthouse continues to serve its prime purpose, guiding navigators around the cape.

Daniels House

Location: Raleigh, Wake County

Relevant issues: Naval history

Statement of significance: This was the residence (1920-1948) of Josephus Daniels, secretary of the Navy (1913-1921) under President Woodrow Wilson. Daniels reformed policies by introducing schooling for illiterate sailors, instituting vocational training, opening the Naval Academy to enlisted men, and reforming the naval prison system.

Duke Homestead and Tobacco Factory

Location: Durham, Durham County

Relevant issues: Business and industry

Statement of significance: In 1890, Washington Duke’s son, James B. Duke, organized the American Tobacco Company, preeminent in its time. The family’s frame house, reconstructed small tobacco factory of log construction, and frame third factory (c. 1852-1874) remain.

Fort Fisher

Location: Wilmington, New Hanover County

Relevant issues: Civil War, military history

Statement of significance: This earthen Confederate stronghold created an impassable barrier for the blockading Union fleet. Its fall, in January, 1865, helped spell the collapse of the Confederacy.

Hardaway Site

Location: Badin, Stanly County

Relevant issues: American Indian history

Statement of significance: During the Paleo-Indian to Early Archaic Periods (12,000-6,000 b.c.e.), prehistoric Indian populations came here to exploit the lithic resources of the area to manufacture projectile points and stone tools; these activities created stratified cultural deposits as much as four feet in depth. This site has played a significant role in the development of archaeological method and theory, by advancing knowledge and understanding of the sequential development of prehistoric cultures in the eastern United States, particularly with regard to the earliest periods of human occupation.

Hayes Plantation

Location: Edenton, Chowan County

Relevant issues: Political history

Statement of significance: This plantation was built from 1790 to 1802 by Samuel Johnston, a major political leader of North Carolina during the War for Independence. He served as governor and then senator, as well as president of the North Carolina Convention which ratified the U.S. Constitution. He lived here until his death in 1816.

Helper House

Location: Mocksville, Davie County

Relevant issues: Political history

Statement of significance: This was the residence (1829-1849) of Hinton Rowan Helper (1829-1909), author of The Impending Crisis of the South (1857), a book which condemned the institution of slavery for economic, though not moral, reasons. The publication was used for political purposes by the Republicans in the 1860 elections. Helper lived here for the first twenty years of his life, and returned in later years. The original log structure is now clapboarded and has modern frame additions.

Monitor

Location: Cape Hatteras, Dare County

Relevant issues: Civil War, military history, naval history

Statement of significance: The USS Monitor (1862), famous for its Civil War battle with the CSS Merrimac (Virginia), was the prototype of a class of ironclad, turreted warships which significantly altered both naval technology and marine architecture in the nineteenth century. Designed by Swedish engineer John Ericsson, the vessel contained all the nascent innovations which helped to revolutionize warfare at sea.

North Carolina

Location: Wilmington, New Hanover County

Relevant issues: Military history, naval history, World War II

Statement of significance: First and namesake of a modern class of American battleships built just prior to World War II, USS North Carolina set a standard for new shipbuilding technology that combined high speeds with powerful armament. Its superior performance during the Battle of the Eastern Solomons in August, 1942, established the primary role of the fast battleship as the protector of the aircraft carrier. It has the best war record of any surviving American battleship serving in the Pacific during World War II, earning fifteen battle stars for its service.

North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company

Location: Durham, Durham County

Relevant issues: African American history, business and industry

Statement of significance: Built in 1921, this building was the second home office of the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company, which was founded in 1898. This company evolved out of a tradition of mutual benefit societies and fraternal organizations which by the twentieth century had become the most important social institutions in African American life, with the exception of the church. From the beginning, the Mutual symbolized racial progress and is an institutional legacy of the ideas of racial solidarity and self-help.

Old East

Location: Chapel Hill, Orange County

Relevant issues: Education

Statement of significance: This was the first building constructed (1795) on the campus of the first state university in the United States to open its doors, the University of North Carolina, which was chartered in 1789.

Pinehurst Historic District

Location: Pinehurst, Moore County

Relevant issues: Cultural history

Statement of significance: The Pinehurst Historic District, a planned recreational resort community, comprises a network of curvilinear roads embracing the village green; late Victorian, Colonial Revival and Bungalow-style hotels, cottages, stores, and churches; golf courses, tennis courts, bowling greens, and croquet courts; and horse stables and a racetrack. From its founding in 1895, the captains of American commerce, finance, and industry, and their families and friends, sought recreational pleasures at Pinehurst, which become the model for a subsequent generation of like resorts. Its creation and integrity today as a remarkably intact recreational resort reflect the genius of the Tufts family of Boston, the designers, and Donald James Ross, who designed and refined the resort’s golf courses.

Reed Gold Mine

Location: Concord, Cabarrus County

Relevant issues: Business and industry

Statement of significance: Nuggets found here in 1799 set off the first gold rush in the United States. North Carolina mines furnished much of the gold minted in Philadelphia before 1829. The mines were largely depleted by 1860.

Salem Tavern

Location: Winston-Salem, Forsyth County

Relevant issues: Cultural history, European settlement, religion

Statement of significance: The first brick building in Salem, erected in 1784 by the Moravian congregation that established the town. The Moravians, a devout Germanic people, set about to construct a planned, congregation town in which the church directed the economic as well as spiritual affairs of the residents. The tavern was considered a necessity for the town’s development as a trading center.

Union Tavern

Location: Milton, Caswell County

Relevant issues: African American history, business and industry

Statement of significance: Workshop of Thomas Day, early nineteenth century free African American cabinetmaker who achieved recognition for the superior quality of his craftsmanship.

Wolfe House

Location: Asheville, Buncombe County

Relevant issues: Literary history

Web site: www.ah.dcr.state.nc.us/sections/hs/wolfe/Main.htm

Statement of significance: Thomas Wolfe (1900-1938), a major American novelist, used his boyhood experiences in this rambling frame house in his novels, the first of which was Look Homeward, Angel (1929). Wolfe’s mother bought the house in 1906, and he lived here until 1916.

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