Raleigh and Durham for the History Buff

From the Revolutionary War to the Civil War, a trip back in time is as close as a visit to one of the Raleigh-Durham area’s historic sites, where docents, re-enactors and historians offer an authentic look into the past. Learn the true stories and forces that shaped historic North Carolina figures.

  • Enter the plantation manor of Revolutionary War patriot Joel Lane, who sold 1,000 acres of his estate to establish Raleigh as North Carolina's capital.
  • Explore Historic Stagville, the site of North Carolina’s largest antebellum plantation.
  • Walk where Confederate troops mounted a tactical offensive against Union troops in the last full-scale battle of the Civil War.
  • Head to Bennett Place State Historic Site, where the largest troop surrender of the Civil War occurred.
  • Tour the Executive Mansion and State Capitol, historic sites where the current North Carolina governor still lives and works.
  • Remember those lost in battle at Historic Oakwood Cemetery.

Bentonville Battlefield

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 battle, which took place March 19-21, 1865, in Johnston County.

Historic Stagville

North Carolina’s largest antebellum plantation, Historic Stagville, offers guided tours of the late 18th-century Bennehan House, the Holman House (original slave quarters dating to 1851) and the Great Barn, the largest agricultural building in North Carolina when it was built.

Duke Homestead

Washington Duke, the patriarch of the family that created American Tobacco Company and endowed Duke University, began his empire at Duke Homestead.

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.

Mordecai Historic Park

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. Tour the 1785 house to learn about the lives and character of its inhabitants.

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.

Historic Polk House

North Carolina's first Commissioner of Agriculture, Leonidas L. Polk wielded power in many places. He was also an editor, farmer, legislator and a colonel in North Carolina Militia. He fought at Gettysburg.

Executive Mansion

On the National Register of Historic Places, the Executive Mansion was completed in 1891 and has since been the home of North Carolina governors while welcoming thousands of visitors for tours.

North Carolina State Capitol

Get a feel for North Carolina’s political past at the 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.

Historic Oakwood Cemetery

Historic Oakwood Cemetery is the final resting place for more than 22,000 citizens including governors, U.S. Senators, Supreme Court Chief Justices of North Carolina, Secretaries of the U.S. Navy, Raleigh mayors and Civil War generals.

Historic Yates Mill County Park

A day at Historic Yates Mill County Park offers visitors experiences and demonstrations that interpret and preserve American agricultural heritage, environmental resources and history through educational programs, events and exhibits.