Take a History Tour of the Triangle

7 Places Steeped in History


Published:

Photo of Duke Homestead courtesy of Virginia Reel/NCDN&CR

The Triangle is steeped in history, from the Revolutionary War to the Civil War. A trip back in time is no farther away than a visit to one of the area’s local historic sites, where docents, re-enactors and historians offer an authentic look into the past.

1. Duke Homestead
Washington Duke, the patriarch of the family that created American Tobacco Company and endowed Duke University, started his empire in the earth of Duke Homestead in Durham. Visit this historic site to see his restored home (pictured above), a reconstructed tobacco factory, a tobacco-curing barn and a pack house. Step into the Tobacco Museum to examine tobacco history from the time of the Native Americans to the present. www.nchistoricsites.org/duke.

Photo of re-enactors near Duke Homestead courtesy of North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources

2. Joel Lane Museum House
Joel Lane was a Revolutionary War patriot who served as a delegate to the 1789 convention in Fayetteville where the U.S. Constitution was ratified. He sponsored legislation creating Wake County and, in 1792, sold 1,000 acres of his estate to establish Raleigh as the state capital. His plantation manor, built in 1769, is now known as the Joel Lane Museum House and provides unique insight into Colonial living. joellane.org.

Courtesy of Joel Lane Museum House

3. Historic Stagville
The Bennehan-Cameron family once lived at what is now Historic Stagville, the site of North Carolina’s largest antebellum plantation. By 1860, the family owned about 900 slaves and 30,000 acres. Today, you can still see the late 18th-century Bennehan House, four rare slave houses, a pre-Revolutionary War farmer’s house, a barn built by skilled slave craftsmen and the Bennehan family cemetery. Visit the 71-acre site north of Durham and tour its grounds to discover what life was like back then for the African-American community. stagville.org.

Photo at Historic Stagville courtesy of North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources

4. North Carolina State Capitol
Get a feel for North Carolina’s political past at the North Carolina State Capitol, which dates to 1840. A National Historic Landmark, the building is one of the best-preserved examples of a major civic building in the Greek Revival style. The State Capitol housed all of North Carolina’s state government until 1888, and the governor and his staff still work on the first floor. Visitors can take self-guided tours or guided tours on Saturdays. www.nchistoricsites.org/capitol.

Photo courtesy of North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources

5. Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site
In the waning days of the Civil War, the Battle of Bentonville was the last full-scale battle where Confederate troops mounted a tactical offensive against Union troops. More than 4,000 men were killed or wounded during the March 19-21, 1865, battle in Johnston County, which temporarily stopped Union Gen. William T. Sherman’s destructive march through the Carolinas. Check out the visitor’s center to see battle exhibits and watch an audiovisual program, then tour the home of John and Amy Harper, which served as a field hospital. You can also follow a trail leading to a section of Union trenches. Highway historical markers highlight events of the battle. www.nchistoricsites.org/bentonvi.

Photo at Bentonville Battlefield courtesy of North Carolina Department of Natural Cultural Resources

6. Bennett Place State Historic Site
The largest troop surrender of the Civil War occurred at the Bennett Place State Historic Site in Durham. In April 1865, Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston and Gen. Sherman met in the Bennett home to sign surrender papers for the Southern armies in the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida. Today, the Bennett farm has been reconstructed and restored as it would have been back then. Look in the kitchen house for a glimpse into the daily life of the Bennetts and let the scents of the smokehouse and gardens take you back. Learn about the family and view Civil War artifacts in the museum gallery of the visitor’s center. www.nchistoricsites.org/bennett.

Photo of cooking at Bennett Place Historic Site courtesy of North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources

7. The Mordecai House
The Mordecai Historic Park, once the site of the largest plantation in Wake County, is home to The Mordecai House, the oldest house in Raleigh on its original location. The park also houses a log cabin that was the birthplace of President Andrew Johnson. raleighnc.gov (search for “Mordecai Historic Park”).

Photo of Mordecai House courtesy of Mordecai Historic Park

Odile Fredericks is the web editor for Carolina Parent and Where Traveler-Raleigh Durham.

This article was first published May 22, 2014, and updated May 20, 2016

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December 2019

Come by the Finley Center any time during the day to participate in a collaborative community art project celebrating what you are thankful for! Play a game of “Roll a Turkey” and take home...

Cost: FREE. Registration is not required.

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Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Cost: $22/attendee, $20/sister

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Historic Polk House
537 N. Blount St.
Raleigh, NC  27604
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Telephone: 919-676-6368
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Fun for the entire family, enjoy this wonderful, witty retelling of a classic fairy-tale. With a score consisting of well-known pop songs, follow Snow White and her Seven Dwarves as they try to...

Cost: $10-$60/person

Where:
Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 East South Street
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
Telephone: 919-996-8700
Contact Name: Blake Jones
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Cost: $10-$60/person

Where:
Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 East South Street
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
Telephone: 919-996-8700
Contact Name: Blake Jones
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Cost: For all ages; FREE. Registration is required for everyone

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd
Apex, NC  27529
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Telephone: 919-662-2854
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Fun for the entire family, enjoy this wonderful, witty retelling of a classic fairy-tale. With a score consisting of well-known pop songs, follow Snow White and her Seven Dwarves as they try to...

Cost: $10-$60/person

Where:
Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 East South Street
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
Telephone: 919-996-8700
Contact Name: Blake Jones
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Please join Admissions, Division Directors and our Head of School as they talk about Duke School’s unique program, specifically for incoming kindergarten through fourth grade students for the...

Cost: $0

Where:
Duke School
3716 Erwin Road
Durham, NC  27705
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Sponsor: Duke School
Telephone: 919-416-9420
Contact Name: Logan Blaylock

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Cost: $9/resident, $12/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC  27518
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Cost: Free

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
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Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
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Cost: FREE. Registration is required.

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd
Apex, NC  27529
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Telephone: 919-662-2850

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Cost: $35/resident, $45/nonresident

Where:
Herbert C. Young Community Center
101 Wilkinson Ave.
Cary, NC
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Cost: $10-$60/person

Where:
Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 East South Street
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
Telephone: 919-996-8700
Contact Name: Blake Jones
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Cost: Free

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Orange County Public Library
137 W Margaret Lane
Hillsborough, NC  27278
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Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 191-924-52539
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Cost: $22/person or $33/couple

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Project Enlightenment
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Raleigh, NC  27603
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Cost: $10-$60/person

Where:
Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 East South Street
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
Telephone: 919-996-8700
Contact Name: Blake Jones
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Hope Community Church
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Cost: Free

Where:
Wake Forest Presbyterian Church
12605 Capital Blvd
Wake Forest, NC  27587
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Sponsor: Wake Forest Presbyterian Church
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Contact Name: Meghan Reynolds
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Cost: $5 Resident/$6 nonresident

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Chapel Hill Community Clay Studio
200 Plant Road
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
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Sponsor: Community Clay Studio and Chapel Hill Teen Center
Telephone: 919-968-2878
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Cost: $10-$60/person

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Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 East South Street
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
Telephone: 919-996-8700
Contact Name: Blake Jones
Website »

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Cost: Free

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Greenwood Forest Baptist Church
110 S.E. Maynard Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
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Cost: $28 + taxes and fees

Where:
The Clayton Center
111 E. Second Street
Clayton, NC  27520
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Sponsor: The Clayton Center
Telephone: 919-553-1737
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Cost: FREE

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Pkwy.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 919-460-3355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
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Cost: Free

Where:
Baileywick Road Park
9501 Baileywick Rd
Second Shelter Field
Raleigh, NC  27615
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Sponsor: Raleigh Redhawks Rugby
Contact Name: denise travis
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See award-winning houses from the Town of Cary's 9th Annual Gingerbread House Competition on display. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Cary Arts Center
101 Dry Ave.
Cary, NC  27511
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Girls ages 5-12 take their favorite doll and have a creative time together preparing for the holidays. Register by emailing llpolkhouse2@gmail.com.

Cost: $22/attendee, $20/sister

Where:
Historic Polk House
537 N. Blount St.
Raleigh, NC  27604
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Telephone: 919-676-6368
Website »

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Ages 4-12 enjoy free arts and crafts. Registration not required. Children must have adult accompaniment. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Halle Cultural Arts Center
237 N. Salem St.
Apex, NC  27502
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Cost: $21/child

Where:
Middle Creek Community Center
125 Middle Creek Ave.
Apex, NC  27539
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Cost: Free

Where:
Lafayette Village
8450 Honeycutt Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27615
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Cost: $19/resident, $25/nonresident

Where:
Cary Arts Center
101 Dry Ave.
Cary, NC  27511
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Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Oak View County Park
4028 Carya Drive
Raleigh, NC  27610
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Sponsor: Historic Oak View County Park
Telephone: 919-250-1013
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As a Christmas gift to our community and surrounding area, Wake Forest Presbyterian Church delivers the true Christmas story in a stirring virtual “walk” through Bethlehem to the stable...

Cost: Free

Where:
Wake Forest Presbyterian Church
12605 Capital Blvd
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Sponsor: Wake Forest Presbyterian Church
Telephone: 919-556-7777
Contact Name: Meghan Reynolds
Website »

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Ages 3-12 and their fathers enjoy a night of dancing, light refreshments, photos and more. Registration required at Rolesville Community Center.

Cost: $25.00 per couple, non-resident $30.00 per couple, $10.00 per additional child

Where:
Rolesville Community Center
514 Southtown Circle
Rolesville, NC  27571
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Website »

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Fun for the entire family, enjoy this wonderful, witty retelling of a classic fairy-tale. With a score consisting of well-known pop songs, follow Snow White and her Seven Dwarves as they try to...

Cost: $10-$60/person

Where:
Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 East South Street
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
Telephone: 919-996-8700
Contact Name: Blake Jones
Website »

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