As one of the original 13 colonies, North Carolina is steeped in American and Southern regional history. Raleigh and Durham are home to landmarks, memorials and museums that bring to life the complex history of the region. From the 19th-century Greek Revival architectural style of Raleigh’s state capitol building to a repurposed former tobacco factory, here are the five historical sites you should tour on your next visit to the area.
North Carolina State Capitol
Visitors are welcomed into the early 19th-century Greek Revival building that serves as the hub for state lawmakers in North Carolina. Admission is free for self-guided and guided tours, where guests can learn more of the history and significance of the building and its current political importance.
1 E Edenton St., Raleigh, NC; historicsites.nc.gov
This state-led historic site preserves the property of its namesake Washington Duke, who lived and farmed in the area through 1874. Guided visits include a look at antebellum and post-Civil War life for North Carolinians. Special events include hands-on workshops and community gatherings complete with period costumes.
2828 Duke Homestead Rd., Durham, NC; dukehomestead.org
U.S. Civil Rights Trail
Raleigh is home to two prominent spots on the multi-state route highlighting Civil Rights history in America. The Dr. Martin Luther King Memorial Gardens pay homage to the leader and the movement with a life-size sculpture of Dr. King. Estey Hall at Shaw University, dating back to 1874, is the first building dedicated to the higher education of African American women. In Durham, Hayti Heritage Center dates back to 1975, and preserves and shares African American heritage.
Pope House Museum
Dating back to 1901, the home of Dr. Manassa Thomas Pope, the only African American man to run for mayor of a Southern capital during the Jim Crow Era, offers free tours to learn more about Dr. Pope and his family. Original furniture and artifacts are preserved in the home, which is also part of an African American walking tour that includes Stronachs Alley, Wilmington Street, and Shaw University.
511 S Wilmington St., Raleigh, NC; raleighnc.gov
American Tobacco Campus
Dating back to 1890, this hub in the heart of Durham was once crucial to the city’s tobacco industry, but has since been reinvented as a shopping and dining destination. The former tobacco factory still has its historic elements, but now includes the Durham Performing Arts Center, Durham Bulls Athletic Park, plus dedicated space for small business pop-ups.
300 Blackwell St. #104, Durham, NC; americantobacco.com