History

Civil War Weekend

Tryon Palace marks the landmark for North Carolina’s first Capitol Building. The Palace was built for Governor Tryon in 1770 and the Capitol was later relocated to Raleigh in 1778.

Besides being the First State Capitol in North Carolina, New Bern is a town full of history. Here are a few of numerous historical events:

  • James Davis opened the First Printing Press in North Carolina
  • Pepsi was invented in New Bern by Caleb Bradham
  • First Public School in North Carolina
  • First Chartered Fire Department in North Carolina
  • New Bern’s Devastating Fire of 1922

The North Carolina History Center is currently offering Virtual Tours until they reopen.

Learn about the 1862 “Battle of New Bern” by visiting New Bern’s Civil War Battlefield located at the entrance of Taberna (off Hwy 70 E). For details, contact New Bern Historical Society, 512 Pollock St., New Bern, 252-638-8558.

New Bern showcases buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places dating back to the 1700s. The Isaac Taylor House was built in 1792 by Isaac Taylor, the great-great-great-grandfather of musicians Livingston and James Taylor. Union troops arrived in New Bern in 1862 and took hold of the house. The occupants withdrew to the third and fourth floors and remained there for the duration of the war, using a basket with bracket-and-pulley system to transport food and supplies. You can still see the device on the south side of the building.

New Bern’s Historical Homes are well worth the visit to New Bern! Why not stay at one of the “Historical” Bed and Breakfast and experience the history yourself!

New Bern’s Historic Landmarks:

  • Tryon Palace Historic Sites and Gardens, 610 Pollock St., New Bern, 252-514-4900 or 800-767-1560
  • Bellair Plantation, 1100 Washington Post Rd., New Bern, 252-637-3913
  • Birthplace of Pepsi, 256 Middle St., New Bern, 252-636-5898
  • Cedar Grove Cemetery, George St., Greenwood Cemetery, Cyprus St., and New Bern Cemetery, New Bern, 252-639-7515
  • Centenary United Methodist Church, 309 New St., New Bern, 252-637-4181
  • Christ Episcopal Church and Cemetery, 320 Pollock St., New Bern, 252-633-2109
  • City Hall, 300 Pollock St., New Bern, 252-636-4000
  • First Baptist Church, 239 Middle St., New Bern, 252-638-5691
  • First Church of Christ, 406 Middle St., New Bern, 252-638-6269
  • First Presbyterian Church, 418 New St., New Bern, 252-637-3270
  • Hebrew Cemetery, National Ave., New Bern
  • Isaac Taylor House, 228 Craven St., New Bern, 252-649-1712
  • New Bern National Cemetery, 1711 National Ave, New Bern, 252-637-2912
  • Saint Cyprian’s Episcopal Church, 604 Johnson St., New Bern, 252-633-3816
  • Saint Paul’s Roman Catholic Church, 510 Middle St., New Bern
  • Saint Peter’s African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, 604 Johnson St., New Bern, 252-633-3816
  • Temple B’Nai Sholem Synagogue, 505 Middle St., New Bern, 252-638-4545

Museums:

  • Attmore-Oliver Civil War House Museum, 510 Pollock St., New Bern, 252-638-8558
  • New Bern Fireman’s Museum, 408 Hancock St., New Bern, 252-636-4087
  • New Bern Academy Museum, located at the corner of New and Hancock Sts.
  • USMC Aviation Exhibit, 201 Tourist Center Drive, Havelock, 252-444-4348

Tours:

  • New Bern Tours and Convention Services, 333 Middle St., New Bern, 252-637-7316 or 800-849-7316
  • Walking Tours, Tryon Palace, Corner of Pollock and George Sts., New Bern, 252-514-4900 or 800-767-1560
  • Self-Guided African American Heritage Tour sponsored by the Craven County Convention and Visitors Center, 252-637-9400
  • Trail of Flames Historical Tour of the Great Fire of 1922, New Bern, 252-288-5716

New Bern’s Historical Resources:

Please call ahead as they may be temporarily closed due to COVID-19.

Note: If you notice important historical facts about New Bern that have been left out, please send an Email and they will be added.

Ben Watford

Ben Watford Shows You How to Throw Pottery!

December 10, 2011

I had the pleasure of meeting Ben Watford, local potter and historian, last year when he gave me a tour of the Crockett-Miller Slave Quarters. Prior to meeting him, I didn’t know he was a well known potter. I was fascinated when he told me the story behind the “face jugs” that he’s known to create, among many other beautiful pottery items. During the days of slavery, slaves were dehumanized and when they died, they weren’t allowed to be respected with a tombstone or grave marker. Their family would place pottery jugs with trinkets in memory of their loved ones. […]

“Spotlight on 247 Craven”!

January 8, 2011

  247 Craven Owner – Ashley Moser Walking into 247 Craven’s Restaurant, I was greeted by the friendly staff and owner, Ashley Moser. Ashley began his career at Johnson Wales University in Charleston, SC and has worked as a chef across North Carolina from Asheville to New Bern. With over 13 years of culinary experience, he took the leap and became a Restaurateur. He strives to serve local, seasonal, and fresh ingredients in his Southern and Mediterranean style cuisine. 247 Craven offers an elegant and warm dining atmosphere. They also have a small full service bar with beer, liquor, and […]

The “Trail of Flames” Tour – 1/3 of New Bern’s Population was destroyed by the “Great Fire of 1922”

August 27, 2010

Some New Bern residents may not even know about the “Trail of Flames” left by the Great Fire of 1922. I’m one of many who didn’t know much about the Great Fire and the massive destruction that left a third of the City of New Bern’s population homeless. Thanks to Mrs. Mary Peterkin for providing me with documents that outline the events and history of this devastating day that would be instrumental in changing and restructuring the City of New Bern. On December 1, 1922, a fire began at Rowland Lumber Company, the largest lumber company in North Carolina. They […]

Crockett-Miller Slave Quarters

Crockett-Miller Slave Quarters and Memorial in James City

June 21, 2010

Mr. Ben Watford began the tour at the gravesites of 522 Freedmen and Slaves buried without tombstones or markers. There was one Memorial Monument to encompass all of those interned there. Ben explained, in their day, slaves were dehumanized and when they died, they weren’t allowed to be respected with a tombstone or grave marker. Their family would place pottery jugs with trinkets in memory of their loved ones. Then, “face jugs” were created to scare away the devil. The scarier the face jugs were, the greater chance the devil would leave their loved one alone and let them move […]

Carter G. Woodson Exhibit

Carter G. Woodson Historical Foundation Exhibit at the New Bern Mall

February 13, 2010

I visited the Carter G. Woodson Historical Foundation Exhibit in the New Bern Mall to learn about New Bern’s Black history and met two wonderful volunteers, Mr. Earl Murphy and Mr. Robert Phillips. They volunteer their time to answer any questions people had about the exhibit. Volunteers are the backbone to our community, no matter what your mission may be. To give you a little background, Mr. Carter G. Woodson is the “Father of Black History Month”. He was born to former slaves in 1875 and worked his way to Harvard University, which is a tremendous accomplishment now, can you […]

New Bern’s F11 Fighter Jet – Restoration Project

October 28, 2009

Did you know that the F11 Grumman aircraft located on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Blvd was dedicated to the city in 1973? Major General Paul Fontana, the Commander of MCAS Cherry Point, dedicated the jet to New Bern in recognition to the City’s close relationship with the Base. As you drive by the F11 aircraft, you can’t help but wonder what it would take to restore it. It is barely visible due to the growth of the city and its road system (see left photo). Well, the Swiss Bear Downtown Development Corporation is currently working on an initiative to […]

Support the Swiss Bear Downtown Development Corporation

October 24, 2009

Some people may associate the Swiss Bear Downtown Development Corporation (SBDDC) with New Bern’s Annual MUMfest and they should because it attracts thousands of residents and visitors to the MUMfest. Personally, I really look forward to this fantastic event every year! But many people truly don’t understand the significant impact this non-profit organization has on the future of the downtown district and waterfront area. I admit I am one of those who assumed the SBDDC were the folks responsible for planning, organizing, and executing the most profitable annual festival in New Bern, the MUMfest. I didn’t know much more than […]

Volunteers in New Bern

Make a Difference and Volunteer

June 23, 2009

Are you recently unemployed and can’t find a job? Are you retired and have a need for social interaction? Or are you employed and feel the need to make a difference in the community? Why not volunteer for one of many of our local non-profit organizations who provide vital services to our community? You may have never thought about volunteering because you’re too busy. Take a look at some of the main reasons people volunteer: – Social networking – Maintain skill sets – Add to resume – Social interaction – Something to do – Meet influential people – Self gratification […]