north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program
 

 
 
 

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     North Carolina’s governor’s residence has undergone four incarnations. The first residence was the elegant Tryon Palace, built for the next to last Royal Governor, William Tryon, between the years 1767 and 1770 in New Bern. After the General Assembly mandated all governors reside in Raleigh (est. 1792), an austere two-story building was erected on the corner of Fayetteville and Hargett streets in 1797. While the structure stayed in use for thirteen years, the house fell into great disrepair and Benjamin Smith, the governor in 1810, complained that the house was not pleasing to the eye and the roof was faulty. In response, the General Assembly designated members to oversee the construction of a better residence in 1813, and the Governor’s Palace was finished three years later.

     Constructed about a mile south of the Capitol on Fayetteville Street, the ornamental brick mansion first housed Governor William Miller. The moniker of “palace” was attributed to scuttlebutt concerning the new ornate structure replacing the old decrepit house built in 1797. White columned porticos resting on the porch pediment greeted visitors as they approached the structure. According to Wake County historian Elizabeth Reid Murray, firsthand accounts offer what is known about the interior: “There was a hall with pillars on each side, these marking the entrances into the reception rooms right and left. A special stair case, of an odd form, led to the upper floor, and to a cupola on the roof in which there were seats giving enough room for several persons.” Famous persons, among them Revolutionary General Marquis de Lafayette, visited the palace. In addition, after the state house burned in 1831, several sessions of the General Assembly met in the residence until the new capitol was completed. In April 1865, General William T. Sherman used the palace as a makeshift headquarters, where he held meetings with General Ulysses S. Grant.

     Governor Zebulon B. Vance was the last governor to occupy the residence. In 1877, he tasked the General Assembly to approve funding for a newer home for the Chief Executive. It was not until 1879, however, that funds for a new residence were approved, and in 1891, the fourth and current governor’s residence was built at 200 North Blount Street in Raleigh. The Governor’s Palace was sold to Raleigh in 1876, and housed the Centennial School for ten years. It was then torn down and Raleigh’s Memorial Auditorium was eventually constructed on the site in the 1930’s.


References:
William S. Powell, ed., Encyclopedia of North Carolina, 519—sketch by Robert G. Anthony Jr.
Julie W. Snee, ed., “The Executive Residences of North Carolina,” in the North Carolina Manual, 1991-1992
Executive Residences website: http://statelibrary.dcr.state.nc.us/nc/ncsites/raleigh/execres.htm
State of North Carolina, “Governor’s Mansion” (Historic Sites pamphlet, 1954)
Elizabeth Murray Reid, Wake: Capital County of North Carolina, Vol. 1: Prehistory Through Centennial (1983)
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north carolina highway historical marker program


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