The best way to experience history for you, your children or grandchildren is to become engaged in the process of retracing the steps of historic leaders in their original homes and courtrooms, not reproductions..
Start by going to the Penelope Barker House Welcome Center, better known as Edenton’s Living Room, (505 South Broad Street at the waterfront) where staff and volunteers are available seven days a week, 10 am until 5 pm to answer tell you about the national and state leaders from Edenton and your questions about Edenton. They will even offer you tickets for the Trolley Tour as you check out the best history-focused book and gift shop in eastern North Carolina.
Or stop at the State’s Visitor’s Center (108 North Broad, Edenton, NC 27932) and watch their short video or take a walking tour, Tuesday-Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m., closed Sunday, Monday, and state holidays.
When you put on that colonial costume and try to think and talk in character you are living history.
~ Sallie D
Living IN History has a big impact on your thinking. You can’t help but recognize the hardships of life before the lightbulb, refrigerator, automobile, running water and the Internet. Yet, as you learn more about the leaders in Edenton who played central roles in the design of the state and nation, you have enormous respect for their accomplishments. They were tourist to this country who stuck around and built a nation.
Learn what it was like to live in Penelope Barker’s house when her third husband was working in London and she was plotting civil disobedience to have 51 local women tell the King NO!
When you stroll through the Iredell house know that its owner not only served on the very first US Supreme Court but also wrote court decisions that are still quoted in modern judicial decisions. We live with the freedoms James Iredell fought to define and forget that he had to get to Washington not by an Interstate like I-95, but by boat, through swamps, and over rutted trails by horseback. The burdens of travel are blamed for his early death.
Joseph Hewes house and Samuel Johnston’s home stand today, but are not open for tours because they are privately owned and used as residents daily. But as you walk by Hewes’ you can imagine a merchant ship owner living there, only a few hundred yards from the waterfront. From that point, he managed shipping up and down the coast and to the West Indies. What courage did it take to risk a successful shipping business to supply Boston with food after the British embargoed that harbor following the uprising?
Samuel Johnston’s farm can barely be seen from town and the home his son finished, Hayes, can only be seen from the water. The 1,800 volumes in Johnston’s library was one of the new nation’s most significant, in the same league as Jefferson’s and Washington’s. It is now housed at UNC.
Wherever you look in Edenton, you’ll find immediate evidence of the history that was made by leaders from Chowan County. Go see some of these places and feel what life was like then and how the actions and thoughts of those residents affect your life today. Live a little history, as we all make history.