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Living museums in the form of estates, plantations, and mansions with accompanying gardens abound in North Carolina. Found in cities like Asheville, Greensboro, and the capital city of Raleigh, the historic homes of the Tar Heel State feature tours, exhibits, reenactments, and a look at young North Carolina.
Located in Raleigh in eastern North Carolina, the Pope House Museum is a restored home built in 1901, and found on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. The former dwelling of Dr. M.T. Pope – a significant African American Raleigh resident – the home and museum is set amongst office buildings in downtown’s Third Ward neighborhood. Tours are offered on Saturdays with no admission fee.
Also set in Raleigh and listed on the register, the Joel Lane Museum House was built in 1770, and is Raleigh’s oldest home. Operated by the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America, the Lane House is known as the birthplace of North Carolina’s capital city – or the Father of Raleigh home – and features tours led by guides in late 1700s costume.
Tours are available daily from March to December, and offered by appointment during the off-season. The Joel Lane Museum House also features events like lectures, holiday celebrations, and the Antiques Appraisal Fair.
Asheville, set in western North Carolina – is also a major site for historic homes. Asheville’s first mansion, the Smith-McDowell House Museum, is an antebellum antique featuring tours, exhibits, and holiday events.
One of North Carolina’s most famed historic homes, the Châteauesque-style Biltmore Estate was built in 1889, and is a U.S. National Historic Landmark. The 75-acre site is open daily, and features a winery, gardens, conservatory, restaurants, and shopping. Exhibits and guided tours are available at the Biltmore House, covering subjects like architecture, the Vanderbilts, wine, and North Carolina history.
Other Tar Heel state historic homes include the Historic Latta Plantation in Huntersville, and the Blandwood Mansion and Gardens in Greensboro.
See one of the most iconic landmarks in Asheville. The Biltmore Estate is a magnificent French mansion built by George Washington Vanderbilt II in 1895 in the North Carolina mountains. With 250 rooms, totaling 175,000 square feet, it is the largest privately-owned home in America.
The 8,000-acre estate is still family-owned today, and is listed as a National Historic Landmark. Visitors should allow two days to tour the mansion, stroll the 75-acre gardens, and shop and dine at the Antler Hill Village & Winery. The nearby Outdoor Adventure Center offers bike rentals, carriage rides, fly-fishing lessons, guided horseback rides, guided segway tours, river float trips, and a Land Rover driving school. The Biltmore Estate also features seven onsite dining options, and is just two miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway – and one mile from downtown Asheville.
There are many impressive ways to make the most of your next stay in North Carolina. A long list of family-friendly fun awaits, golf courses here are as impressive as any other place in the country, and the Civil War sites are a must for history buffs. No matter the reason for a visit, though, be sure to check out the James Mangum House near Creedmoor.
Plan your next visit to the Piedmont region of NC and head for Falls Lake State Recreation Area. Here, you'll find the very impressive and historic Mangum House – just along the eastern shoreline of Beaverdam Lake. The Mangum House in NC features Federal architecture, and it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.
Preserving the historic Asheville childhood home of major 20th-century novelist Thomas Wolfe, the Thomas Wolfe Memorial offers a unique glimpse into the details of Wolfe's life in the North Carolina Mountains.
Found in the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area, the Thomas Wolfe Memorial State Historic Site may offers exhibits and real-life settings of some of Wolfe's most vivid literary passages. House tours are offered daily at the top of the hour. The Thomas Wolfe Museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.
Constructed in 1887, the Harper House & Hickory History Center is located in Hickory in the Piedmont Region of western North Carolina. Harper House is an ideal example of Queen Anne-style interior design.
Closed Mondays, the Harper House offers tours at $5 per person – while the neighboring Bonniwell-Lyerly House features free tours. A staple of Hickory heritage – the Hickory History Center is a great stop for history lovers.
This gracious mansion, constructed from 1922-1925, covers 21,000 square feet and is five stories high. The opulence of the mansion and the hunting club versus the rest of the Corolla residents who lived on a more subsistence level – and how they mixed - is explored in the museum within this Outer Banks mansion.
The entire grounds, including the mansion and the 39-acre beachfront estate, is open for tours six days a week (closed on Sundays), and there are several levels of tours, as well as special events near Kill Devil Hills throughout the year.