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Tryon Palace, Rebuilt from Its Ashes

This Day in North Carolina History - Tue, 04/08/2014 - 06:30

Image from the State Archives

On April 8, 1959, the restored Tryon Palace opened to the public.

Interest in rebuilding the parts of the Palace that were lost in a 1798 fire was shown as early as 1925, but it wasn’t until 1945 that Gov. R. Gregg Cherry appointed a commission to study the idea and organize restoration efforts. Maude Moore Latham, a New Bern native who had played in the Palace ruins as a child, served as commission’s chair and committed substantial amounts of her own money to the project.

Gov. and Mrs. J. M. Broughton ,and Mr. and Mrs.
C. A. Cannon in Williamsburg, Va. doing research for the restoration of Tryon Palace. Image from
the N.C. Museum of History

The commission acquired the site of the original Palace with money from the General Assembly and, in 1951, the Boston firm that had restored Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia was hired to help with the restoration.

Two original copies of drawings of Palace done by its first architect John Hawks, extensive historical research, and substantial archaeological evidence guided the work. Workers located the building’s original foundations as construction began. As the excavations progressed, interior designers were aided by the discovery of pieces of marble, brass, molding and glass.

The restoration’s total cost came in at around $3.5 million, and, after its re-opening, the Palace quickly became one of the most visited historic sites in the state.

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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.


Oak Ridge, Military Prep School in Guilford County

This Day in North Carolina History - Mon, 04/07/2014 - 06:30

A circa 1910-1920 image of the Oak Ridge Academy.
Image from the N.C. Museum of History

On April 7, 1850, citizens in northwestern Guilford County met and appointed a board of trustees to erect a schoolhouse. The school would eventually become Oak Ridge Academy, the first coeducational military high school in the nation.

Three years later the school opened with a traditional curriculum and 63 male students. In 1861 and 1862, the entire student body and faculty enlisted in the Confederate army. The loss necessitated the school’s closing. Set to reopen in September 1865, the school’s main building burned the night before classes were to resume. The school was moved to nearby cabins and private homes.

Many senior students volunteered for service during World War I, and the U.S. Army began recruiting graduates for service as officers. In 1926, the Army organized a Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps there.

The school changed its name to Oak Ridge Military Academy in 1971, and that same year the school became the first military academy in the United States to admit females. Women had attended the school’s secondary courses since about 1929, but never in a military capacity.

In 1983, the 101-acre campus became a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places.

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.


Bayard Wootten, Esteemed Photographer, of Chapel Hill and New Bern

This Day in North Carolina History - Sun, 04/06/2014 - 06:30

An image of Wootten from the North Carolina Collection at UNC-Chapel Hill

On April 6, 1959, pioneering photographer Bayard Wootten died in New Bern.

Born in New Bern in 1875, Wootten left the area to attend college in Greensboro and then teach. She returned to New Bern to help family members. Once back, she did design work to support her family, eventually creating Pepsi-Cola’s first trademarked logo. She embraced photography in 1904 and, after displaying her first photograph that year, orders for her work began to roll in.

After working for the National Guard as photographer and director of publicity, she turned to aerial photography in 1919, taking pictures of New Bern and the Neuse River in a Wright Brothers plane.

Wootten moved to New York, and after a brief stint there and running a statewide portrait photographic service, she settled in Chapel Hill in 1928. She would remain there until her retirement in 1954. During her time there she received frequent invitations to exhibit her work, and assembled popular slide presentations based on her architectural and landscape photography. She also illustrated books for UNC Press, Houghton Mifflin and J.B. Lippincott publishers during that time.

Shortly after her retirement she returned to New Bern where she died five years later.

The UNC-Chapel Hill Library has collected a number of biographical materials and photographs associated with Wootten on this page.

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.


Jim Hunt Takes the Stage, 1976

This Day in North Carolina History - Sat, 04/05/2014 - 06:30

Gov. Hunt reads to children as part of the Summer Reading program.
Image from the State Archives

On April 5, 1976, James Baxter Hunt Jr. announced his intention to run for governor of North Carolina.

With 65 percent of the vote, Hunt handily won the election in 1976. He served as governor for a record-breaking sixteen years—with an eight-year break in between two sets of consecutive four-year terms.

Image from the State Archives

During Hunt’s administration, North Carolina became a model of educational reform and the growth of technology. He set higher standards for teachers and students and sought to raise teacher salaries. A signature part of Hunt’s agenda was helping young children grow and develop. To that end, he advocated for the establishment of the Division of Child Development and created the non-profit SmartStart to provide assistance to preschoolers.

Hunt also helped position North Carolina as a center of technology. He helped start the N.C. School of Math and Science in Durham, and worked to found the Microelectronics Center of North Carolina to give companies and students the opportunity to work with technology and grow the economy.

After a generation in the public eye, Hunt left office in 2001 as one of the most familiar actors ever on the stage of North Carolina politics.

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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.


A Place for H. H. Brimley: The N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences

This Day in North Carolina History - Fri, 04/04/2014 - 07:16

H. H. Brimley poses in the Museum of Natural Sciences in 1934.
Image from the State Archives

On April 4, 1946, H. H. Brimley died.

Visitors to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh encounter one exhibit that is distinctly different from all the rest. It is the cluttered office of Herbert Hutchinson Brimley, the museum’s original curator and first director. Brimley’s tenure at the museum stretched from 1895 until his death more than 50 years later.

Brimley and his brother Clement emigrated from England to America in 1880, and shortly thereafter opened a taxidermy shop in Raleigh. They quickly gained reputations as two of the South’s leading naturalists.

Their first work for the state was to create an exhibit on waterfowl and fishes for the State Exposition of 1884. The Department of Agriculture, which oversaw the display, found the exhibit too valuable to discard. The department found a more permanent place in its halls for the exhibit and, in time, found a more permanent place for Brimley, too, as the exhibit’s curator and director of the museum it began.

Once simply the State Museum, the institution has been the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences since 1986. One of North Carolina’s most popular attractions, the museum now averages more than 700,000 visitors per year.

Click here to see more historical photos of Brimley and the Museum of Natural Sciences from the State Archives.

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.


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