Ever thought about what it would be like to live in a North Carolina home three hundred years ago?? For those of you history enthusiasts out there, we’ve rounded up a list of some of the state’s most beautiful and historic homes of NC and share how you can wander the grounds or walk into the heart of these homes and step back in time.
North Carolina has a rich history that precedes its modern reputation as a rapidly growing state. Native American tribes like those around Cape Fear inhabited The Tar Heel state since around 700 A.D . In 1729, North Carolina became one of 13 royal colonies. It went on to be the setting of five Revolutionary War battles. As a key participant in the Civil War, the state has played an indelible role in the evolution of the United States.
Location: New Bern
Built between 1767 and 1770, Tryon Palace was the first permanent capitol building for the colony of North Carolina. British governors occupied the palace until 1775, and then the building hosted the first sessions of the General Assembly. In the twentieth century, an extensive reconstruction of the palace was completed. Visitors can now tour the palace alongside guides in period clothing, visit the on-site North Carolina History Center, peruse Tryon Palace museum galleries, and stroll the palace gardens and grounds.
The Palmer-Marsh House
Hours: 10am – 3pm, Tuesdays-Saturdays
Captain Michael Coutanche built the Palmer-Marsh House in 1751 before selling it to 28-year-old Robert Palmer, a lieutenant colonel in the British army, in 1753. The house passed through the hands of the next two generations of Palmer’s family. Then, it was sold to brothers and merchants Jonathan and Daniel Marsh. The Marsh family descendants would occupy the house for the next 120 years. It still stands today as one of the historic homes of NC.
Located in Charlotte’s own Myers Park neighborhood (which is itself on the National Register of Historic Places), the Duke Mansion is a colonial revival structure that was initially constructed for Zebulon Vance Taylor in 1915. In 1919, James B. Duke, who had purchased the house from Taylor, transformed the house into a mansion. In 1977, the building and its 4.5 acres of landscaped grounds were acquired by the Duke Endowment. Now, the mansion functions as an inn, offering guests modern amenities in a historic setting.
Reynolda House Museum of American Art
Hours: Tuesday–Saturday: 9:30am – 4:30pm; Sunday: 1:30 – 4:30pm
Katharine Smith and husband RJ Reynolds settled into the 34,000 square-foot, 64-room home now known as Reynolda House in 1917. With 1,076 acres at their disposal, the Reynolds family built a post office, greenhouse, smokehouse, power plant, and churches. Plus they installed four themed, formal gardens. Now, the grounds are open to the public. Additionally, the house displays pieces by artists like Georgia O’Keefe and Stuart Davis.
Hours: Tuesday–Saturday, Sundays in December: 10am – 4pm
Jule Gilmer Körner was a late 19th/early 20th century painter, interior designer, and furniture designer who built what would come to be known as Körner’s Folly in 1880 as a home and a living portfolio, where he could showcase his versatility as an interior designer. Ever inspired, Körner renovated sections of the home regularly to bring to life new visions, resulting in a home where no two features are quite the same from room to room. For example, sections of the 22-room house have 5.5 foot ceilings, whereas other rooms boast 25 foot ceilings. Every window is different, and no two doorways are exactly the same. Today, visitors can tour this marvel – one of the most interesting historic homes of NC – on their own or with a guide.
Hours: Daytime and Evening time slots are dependent on ticket reservation.
No list of historic homes of NC would be complete without including the Biltmore mansion. Before it became the popular hotel and tourist destination it is today, the Biltmore was the country home of George Washington Vanderbilt and his family. After becoming captivated by the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains, he set to work purchasing land in the area so that he might enjoy that view for the rest of his life. Officially completed in 1895, the mansion houses 250 rooms, including 35 bedrooms and 43 bathrooms. It also boasts thousands of acres of perfectly landscaped scenery. Architectural enthusiasts will love seeing the French Renaissance influences throughout the home. Meanwhile, history buffs will enjoy experiencing a bygone era of opulence.
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 9am – 5pm. Closed Sunday, Monday, and most major holidays.
By the time Confederate General Joseph Johnston agreed to a truce with Union General William T. Sherman, the Civil War had been raging on for years already. With Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s surrender already complete and General Sherman’s destructive march still ongoing, the Confederate Army was on a clear path to defeat. To discuss the terms of Johnston’s surrender, the two generals met at a midway point between the two fronts. Now, this house is known as Bennett Place. Home to farmer James Bennett and his family, this simple house would serve as the site of the largest troop surrender of the Civil War. Although a fire destroyed much of the property in 1921, it has since been restored and is open to the public.
Hours: Closed Monday. Tuesday-Saturday 11am – 4pm (last tour of the day at 3pm). Sunday 2pm – 5pm (last tour of the day at 4pm)
Charles Bland constructed this historic home Governor John Motley Morehead purchased and expanded it. By the time Morehead’s renovations were complete, the structure featured a central three-story tower and gorgeous gardens. The new and improved Blandwood mansion was a very modern home when first built, mainly due to its special architectural style. In fact, it’s now the oldest home in the United States to exemplify the Italianate architectural style of the nineteenth century. The mansion is now open as a museum that features stories from those who lived there, including those who were enslaved.
The Allison-Deaver House
Hours: Dependent on reservations.
As the oldest standing frame house in western North Carolina, the Allison-Deaver House represents the architectural shift that was slowly making its way throughout the mountainside. Instead of building a log cabin like most of his neighbors, property owner Benjamin Allison decided to build his house out of a two-story timber frame. In 1830, Allison sold the property to William Deaver, who added more rooms and Charleston-inspired double porches. When the Civil War began and North Carolina seceded, the residents of the town divided over the choice. The Deaver family was no exception. Visitors who come to the Allison-Deaver House can not only admire the early frame home architecture, but also learn about the Civil War and how such a monumental event impacted families of all sizes.