Kent and I will be staying in New Bern, North Carolina until Saturday April 29. We have three days to enjoy New Bern, a charming riverfront town tucked away on the banks of the Neuse and Trent Rivers. The AGLCA (American Great Loop Cruising Association which we are members of) rendezvous, which started on Tuesday. The rendezvous will be four days of information on navigation, marinas, and anchorages from here to Chesapeake Bay, Delaware Bay across Lake Ontario, Canadian Canals, Georgian Bay & North Channel and Lake Michigan. The Canadian Canals allows us to bypass most of Lake Ontario, all of Lake Erie, and Lake Huron. There will be small group discussions, Vessel safety Checks, show and tell of present loopers, like Kent and I.
New Bern is the second oldest European American colonial town in North Carolina. It is located at the confluence of the Trent and the Neuse Rivers near the North Carolina coast. New Bern was settled in 1710 by Swiss Baron Christopher de Graffenried and Palatine German immigrants. He named the city after his home Bern, Switzerland hoping to bring good fortune to his new home. In the 1700 New Bern became a popular town for both salves and freed blacks in Colonial America. In the 1800 New Bern’s slaves outnumbered the whites. New Bern was a major port and trading center and was captured and occupied by a large Union army under the command of General Ambrose Burnside, after a fierce battle on March 14,1862 called the Battle of New Bern. Union forces captured and occupied the town untill the end of the war in 1865. Nearly 10,000 enslaved blacks escaped during his period in the region and went to the Union camps for protection and freedom. New Bern became the first permanent seat of the colonial government of North Carolina. After the American Revolution New Bern became wealthy and quickly developed a rich cultural life. At one time New Bern was called “The Athens of the South” renowned for its Masonic Temple and Athens Theater. New Bern became the largest city in North Carolina developed on the trade of goods and slaves associated with plantation agriculture.
Royal Governor William Tryon and his family brought an architect from London to design and build the Georgian style structure completed in 1770, as the British colonial government house. In 1770 Tryon moved into the Palace at the time “Palace was a standard word for any public building of this type.”
The house was a monument of opulence and elegance extraordinary in the american colonies. We saw the Palace library, Council Chamber, bedrooms, and a cellar where they kept their wine, cheese, tobacco and was used as sleeping quarters for the head slaves.
The dinning room was used to serve one meal a day from two to four. The other meals consisted of left overs and were served in the bedrooms. Children under the age of 14 were not allowed to come down the main staircase, instead they used the servants stairs. This is where the saying comes “Children should be seen not heard.” Take note of the bed in cubicle with no air flow. This bed was given to visitors so they wouldn’t over stay their welcome. The chairs have the original upholstery on them.
Take note of the strip near the seat of the chair if you put them side by side that is a ledge that the flowers sit on. The grand staircase is a Domino style staircase made of mahogany wood and walnut treads. The stair case is free-standing only being supported at the top and bottom due to the design and rising two stories high.
Tryon Palace was the site of the first sessions of the general assembly for the State of North Carolina, following the Revolution War New Bern became the state capital. Tryon Palace was used for the state government and the first permanent capitol building where two royal governors resided. When the revolution broke out royal governor Josiah Martin fled the palace in 1775. Rebels seized the Palace and retained it as their seat of government. After the revolution it remained the capitol building under independent state governors Richard Caldwell, Abner Nash, and Richard Hobbs Spaights. In April of 1792 on his southern tour of the country President George Washington attended a ball at the palace. He referred to the building as “a good brick building hastening to ruin.” The Capitol moved to Raleigh in 1794. Four state governors lived in the Palace- Richard Caswell, Abner Nash, Alexander Martin, and Richard Hobbs Spaight. The Palace was subsequently used for several different purposes, including a school, boarding house, a Masonic lodge. A cellar fires started in 1798 consumed the Palace property. Only the Kitchen and Stable offices were saved.
These are pictures of the kitchen were the food was prepared, laundry was done, sewing and servant quarters. There is a room called the Kitchen office was razed at the beginning of the 19th century.
This was the smoke house out back, and the stable office. They are the only original structures on the property.
This is the pigeon home and a well out back of Tryon Palace before you enter the gardens.
An extensive 30-yr campaign to rebuild the Palace and restore the ground was launched by people of New Bern state leaders, world craftsmen, and generous, dedicated citizens such as Mrs. James Edwin Latham. Their efforts led to the triumphal reopening of the Palace in 1959. Today the palace lives on as a testament to history, community and rebirth.
The Places’ 16 acres of gardens span three centuries of gardening history. The formal garden designed in the style of a cutwork parterre is named in honor of one of the original leaders on Tryon Palaces restoration. Statues representing all four seasons line the west wall of this garden. Native North America and Asiatic plants and trees populate the Wilderness Garden that unfurled south of the Palace stretching to the Trent River. Honoring Tryon Palace benefactors Mr. and Mrs. John A. Kellenberger this walled gardens is an example of an 18th century ornamental layout in which plants were grown for their decorative qualities.
Kent and I were fortunate to visit this amazing Palace on Sunday and learn the history of the buildings and the governors that lived there.
The George W. Dixon house was built-in the early 1830 for George W. Dixon a wealthy merchant tailor who was also a former mayor of New Bern. Dixon purchased the lot the house stands on in 1826. It was part of the original Tryon Palace grounds, which had been divided into building lots and sold by the state, after the palace was burned in 1798. The Dixon lot represented a choice corner location. The house stands on it original foundation; it has never been moved. The Dixon’s enjoyed an elegant lifestyle and furnished their home in the latest fashions. In 1833 Dixon fell on hard times economically. He mortgaged his house four times between 1833-1836 finally losing the home in foreclosure sale to settle his debts in 1839. During the Federal occupation of New Bern in the Civil War, the Dixon house served as a hospital for the 9th Vermont Infantry.
The John Wright Stanly House designed by John Hawks and built-in 1779. It’s a two-story five bay built of hand hewn long leaf pine. The elegance of the Stanley house projects the wealth of its owner. John Wright Stanly was a revolutionary Patriot and maintained a fleet of trading and privateering vessels that brought in supplies vital to North Carolina wartime strength. A native of Charles City County Va. he arrived in New Bern in 1772 in time to become an early member of the Town’s committee of Safety and to be among the firs to send raiders from that port. In 1780 Stanly moved his family to Philadelphia until 1782 when he returned to New Bern. He had two tremendous satisfaction – appointment as judge of the Admiralty court of Beaufort and completion of the handsome house. But enjoyment of both title and house lasted only a few short years he succumbed to yellow fever in June 1789 just a month before his wife. They left six living children (three had died in infancy) of whom the eldest John became a member of Congress and a leader of North Carolina bar. The house remained empty until John Stanly Jr. came of age and took possession in 1798. While the house has had many owners and uses and has been moved twice its gracious center hall plan and grand two-story stairwell are as striking today as they were for 18th-century visitors.
George Washington stayed at the Stanly home during his visit to New Bern in April of 1792. This is the bed that George Washington slept in when he visited, as he would not stay at the Palace. He thought it was to fancy for him as he enjoyed the simple life. Beds were covered all the way around with mosquito netting as there were no screens on the windows which they left open for air. I think I need one of them so the No- See’ums can’t attack me.
New Bern Academy was established in March 1764 when the North Carolina legislature authorized the town of New Bern to build “a house for a school and residence for the school master” and appointed seven men as trustees. Work on the new building began in 1765 and by April 1767 New Bern had a very large and handsome school-house. Closely tied to the Anglican Church though not a parochial school. The public school in New Bern quickly earned a reputation as one of the best related schools of the kind in America. The school suffered a period of decline and in 1784 was reorganized by the legislature, which provided the academy several lots with income functioned as an endowment. The original frame building was destroyed by fires in 1795. The school was moved to temporary quarters until 1810 when they moved into the new brick building. Originally a school-house, the New Bern Academy served as a hospital in the Civil War and in 1881 became part of the New Bern graded school system. Attendance increased and in 1885 a second building joined the first one with two more to follow. Just as the academy problems appeared resolved the North Carolina Supreme court declared that levying of municipal taxes to support private graded schools was unconstitutional. In 1899 New Bern Academy ceased to function independently and became part of the city school system. All the academy buildings continued to serve as schools until 1971 when the school board decommissioned the 1810 building and the rest of them in 1977. The building was restored in 1985 and was opened in December 1991 as the New Bern Academy Museum.
We learned about the history of education in New Bern from the late 18th through the 19th century, including a model of Lancastrian schoolroom.
Kent and I toured the Academy and read New Bern’s history through the Confederate defense of the town, the Battle of New Bern, and the resulting Union occupation. The museum had Civil War sketches and compiling stories, and period images reveal the daily lives of both military officials and citizens in New Bern during the Union occupation from 1862-1864. The best part was the museum is free to the public.
Pepsi-Cola was first invented by Caleb Braham in his pharmacy in 1898 in New Bern, North Carolina. Caleb Bradham knew that to keep people returning to his pharmacy he would have to turn it into a gathering place. He did so by concocting his own special beverage, a soft drink. His creation a unique mixture of kola nut extract, vanilla and rare oils, became so popular his customers named it “Brad’s Drink”. Caleb decided to rename it “Pepsi-Cola” and advertised his new soft drink. In 1902 he launched the Pepsi Cola company in the back rom of his pharmacy and applied to the U.S. Patent Office for a trademark. At first he mixed the syrup himself and sold it exclusively through soda fountains. But soon Caleb recognized that a greater opportunity existed to bottle Pepsi so that people cold drink it anywhere. The business grew and on June 16, 1903 “Pepsi-Cola” was officially registered with the U.S. Patent Office. That year Caleb sold 7,968 gl. of syrup, using the theme line “Exhilarating, Invigorating, Aids Digestion. ” Caleb also began awarding franchise to bottle Pepsi to independent investors, whose number grew from just two in 1905 in the cities of Charlotte, and Durham, North Carolina, to 15 the following year and 40 by 1907. By the end of 1910 there were Pepsi-Cola franchisee in 24 states. Pepsi-Cola’s first bottling line resulted from some less-than-sophisticated engineering in the back room of Caleb’s pharmacy. By 1907, the new company was selling more than 100,000 gallons of syrup per year. Pepsi-Cola enjoyed 17 unbroken years of success. Caleb now prompted Pepsi sales with the slogan,”Drink Pepsi-Cola, It will satisfy you. Then came World War I and the cost of doing business increased drastically. Sugar prices see sawed between record highs and disastrous lows, and so did the price of producing Pepsi-Cola. Caleb was forced into a series of business gambles and after three exhausting years he was bankrupt. By 1921 only two plants remained open. Then a successful candy manufacture Charles G. Guth saw Pepsi-Cola as an opportunity to discontinue an unsatisfactory business relationships with the Coca-cola company. After five owners and 15 unprofitable years Pepsi cola was one again a thriving national brand and the rest is history.
The history of the City of New Bern Fire-Rescue as it is known today is both rich and unique. Originally it was composed of three companies. The Atlantic Fire & Hook & Ladder Company, New Bern Steam Fire Engine Company No1- and New Bern Fire Company No1. The first chartered fire fighting organization was the Atlantic Fire & Hook & Ladder Company formed on May 14, 1845, however this company became inactive due to the members volunteering for military service at the break of the war between the states. During the occupation of New Bern, The New Bern Fire and Steam Engine Company No 1 was organized on January 1, 1865 by Union Soldiers , who later remained after the war. Thus began the fierce rivalry between the two companies.
This rivalry gained momentum when both companies received their new steam engines. In 1868 The Button Company (Union soldiers) convinced the town council to purchase a new steam fire engine that was pulled by hand and later converted for horse pulling. In 1879 the Atlantic Fire & Hook & Ladder company received a new Silsby Steam fire engine. Then in 1884 the New Bern Fire (union solders) traded the steam engine on a new “Button Steam Fire Engine” shortly thereafter the nick name Button Company came to be. Rivalry between the two companies played an important part in their advancements, and with the arrival of this new steam fire engine it gained momentum. Which fire company reached the blaze first became more important to New Bernians than the damage done or whose house was on fire. The rivalry continued until 1927 when the city housed both companies in a central fire station.
Even then the two companies held separate meeting, had separate brass pools to slide down, and staircases. The museums vintage fire trucks include and 1879 Silsby Steamer, the 1900 Button company Hose wagon, and a 1927 Seagrave Ladder and Pumper Truck, all used in fighting fires in New Bern. This fire House museum was very interesting to Kent as he was a volunteer fireman for 35 years.
The Masonic Temple and Theater also know as St. John’s Lodge No.3 was built-in 1802. It’s one of the oldest Masonic lodge halls still in use. The Masonic Theatre on the first floor is the oldest theatre still operating in the United States, being used for the purpose since 1804. On the Masonic grounds in September 5, 1802 was the famed duel between Governor Spaight and John Stanly, with Spaight being killed. Through out the years, the Masonic Theatre was the scene of many stage plays, talent benefits, concerts, vaudeville acts, political rallies, and church service. During the War between the states it was used as confederate arsenal and later as a hospital when Union forces occupied New Bern.
The Athens Theatre opened it doors on April 11,1911. The theatre was a gala theatre for silent movies, Vaudeville, traveling theater groups and locally produced live productions. It was regarded as one of the most beautiful and best equipped theaters in the area. The Athens had gas-electric lights, fans to cool the patrons, elaborate interior decorations of forest green colors, velvet upholstery, and gold gilded theatre boxes. By 1929 Vaudeville and the silent movies bowed to talkies. The theater was renamed many times over the years.
This building is the Sudan Shrine Center headquarters starting in 1917, overlooking the scenic Neuse River. Sudan meaning “An Area of the Sub-Saharan Africa” The name is from the oldest part of the world from an island of mystery and pageantry. Sudan Shrine’s is a fraternal organization established as a subordinate temple of Shriners international. With its roots in the philanthropy of Shriners hospitals for Children, Sudan Shriners support hospital and patient transportation. Their headquarters are in New Bern, NC, Sudan Shiner’s area encompasses eastern North Carolina’s coastal plains from the Virgina border to the South Carolina border.
Craven Count Court house is among North Carolinas finest example of the Second Empire Style built-in 1883. A previous courthouse burned in 1861 but the reconstruction era economy postponed the construction of a new courthouse until the 1880. The second pictures off the United States Post Office and Courthouse built-in 1935. At the time of its completion it was one of the largest and most expensive building in the Eastern Carolina region. For a brief time, the new building also served as a custom-house. During World War II, the United States Marine Corps Command Contingent occupied the second and third floors.
The Blades house built-in 1907 for lumber magnate W.B. Blades. The home is among the state’s finest combination of Queen Ann style with Colonial Revival details, by prolific local architectural Herbert Simpson. The Blades House contains some thirty-eight rooms, and with very few exceptions remains as it was built. Much of the furniture designed for the house at the time of its construction is still in place. The Door-Bishop House was built-in 1770 for house builder and real estate merchant James Coor. Mr. Coor was active in the patriotic causes during the Revolution serving in the Colonial Assembly. Later owners of the house entertained President James Monroe and Secretary of War John C. Calhoun in 1819. Even later President hoar Taft dined here requiring two dinning room chairs because of his size.
Mitchel Department Store has served the community of New Bern since 1898. In fact, some say it’s the oldest continuously operated hardware store in North Carolina. I was amazed at all the stuff that was housed in this building. I love going into these kinds of stores, you never know what you will find.
The history in this beautiful town is so overwhelming it’s hard to take it all in. I hope you enjoy reading about New Bern as much as I enjoyed touring it and learning all the history that took place here.
This is so much better than shopping. Monday morning Beverly, Becky, Pam, Judy, and I decided to pamper ourselves with a pedicure. When we were done it was back to work provisioning the boat at the grocery store. We called our husbands when we got back to the marina to help us carry our groceries to the boat. It was so nice of them all to help even in the rain. What would boating be without getting wet.
Thursday night was looper night out for dinner. We went along with John & Pam Short and Bruce & Beverly for dinner at Morgans Tavern and Grill. The friends we shared dinner with are great, food was OK, but service was terrible. One out of three is pretty good. Friday we have meetings in the morning and then we are thinking about leaving a day earlier than planned.