Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Living in an 18th century town...a historical novelist's dream

The Barker House, 1775
Two years ago, we moved from the relative noise and bustle of Virginia Beach, Virginia to the peaceful quiet of Edenton, North Carolina. How amazing it is to walk these streets and see homes built in the 1700s still occupied today, not as roped off museum pieces or reproductions but as living breathing examples of 18th century life. As a matter of fact, it was recently discovered that the oldest known house in the state of North Carolina (circa 1712) was hiding beneath a veneer of asbestos shingles on one of the town streets. Our
The Cupola House, 1757
own little cottage doesn't go back that far but even at its "youthful" age of 114, it carries a spirit of history, charm, and continuity not found in contemporary housing. As a writer of historical fiction, it's like waking each day inside a dream, inspiration singing from every corner of the town. I tell our out-of-town friends we are the only town I know with its own soundtrack. Several times each day, the carillon of First Baptist Church rings out lovely melodies of hymns and classical music wafting on the light breezes of Edenton Bay.

The West Customs House, 1772
Commemorative Teapot and a Satirical Drawing of the
1774 Edenton Tea Party from a London newspaper, 1775
Edenton was officially incorporated as a town in 1712. Its name changed four times over its first ten years: The Towne on Queen Anne's Creek, Ye Towne on Mattercommack Creek, The Port of Roanoke, and finally ending as Edenton when named for Governor Charles Eden upon his death in 1722. In the 1770s,  

Edenton was at the forefront of protests against unfair taxing by England. On October 25, 1774, the first ever organized political action by American women, the Edenton Tea Party, occurred when fifty-one ladies of the town met at the home of Elizabeth King and signed a resolution to no longer drink tea or purchase English made cloth
until the tax acts were repealed. In March, 1775, a very unflattering
political cartoon appeared in a London newspaper meant to embarrass and degrade the ladies' efforts.
The Joseph Hewes House, 1765

Edenton is filled to the brim with historical homes and buildings built from the 18th to the 20th centuries but I will focus today on those of the 1700s. I am including photographs I shot this week of just a few of those wonderful structures, all of which are private residences with the exception of the Chowan County Courthouse and the Barker and Cupola Houses.

For more information see:
Chowan County Courthouse, 1767

The Bennett House, 1780
The Skinner-Paxton House, 1798
The Charlton House, 1765
The Author's Home, Buttercup Cottage, 1900

Have a good week, dear Reader. Thanks for stopping by...Y'all come back now! 


(All photographs in today's post taken by Kathryn Louise Wood.)

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