Fayetteville’s Old Town Hall, more commonly called the Market House, has been a central part of the city’s history since construction on the site first occurred in 1778. North Carolina voted to join the federal government in the original State House, which hosted the Convention of 1779 that ratified the Constitution. The present Old Town Hall replaced the original State House, which burned in the Fayetteville fire of 1831. The Old Town Hall has also been the subject of controversy, stemming from the sale of slaves at the market in the mid-nineteenth century.
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Incorporated in 1783 from two separate towns, Cross Creek and Campbelton, the town of Fayetteville soon became active in North Carolina politics. In 1778 Fayetteville built a large brick building, called the State House by its builders, to house the General Assembly in the event the town was chosen as the new state capital. The Convention of 1788 in Hillsborough chose Raleigh over Fayetteville as the capital. The General Assembly met in Fayetteville in 1789, 1790, and 1793 before moving permanently to Raleigh.
Between November 16 and 23, 1789, a second convention was held regarding the ratification of the federal Constitution. The first convention, in Hillsborough in 1788, declined to ratify United States Constitution, suggesting many amendments and calling for a Bill of Rights. When the second convention was held in November 1789, the Federalists held a clear majority. The Constitution was ratified on November 21, 1789, in the State House and North Carolina became the twelfth state.
The State House, subsequently host to the General Assembly, was the site where the University of North Carolina was chartered in 1789 and where legislation was approved ceding land to the federal government that became the state of Tennessee. The General Assembly moved permanently in 1793, but the State House remained until 1831, when it was destroyed by fire that ruined 600 houses and Fayetteville Academy. The Old Town Hall, more commonly called the Market House, was rebuilt by 1832 under the direction of Louis D. Henry, and today is one of Fayetteville’s civic icons. The building was nearly destroyed in the early twentieth century before being saved by the Women’s Civic Association in 1906.
Roy Parker Jr., Cumberland County: A Brief History (1990)
John C. Cavanagh, Decision at Fayetteville: North Carolina Ratification Convention and General Assembly of 1789 (1989)
Lucile Miller Johnson, Hometown Heritage, Fayetteville, North Carolina (1978)
William S. Powell, ed., Encyclopedia of North Carolina (2006)
(Raleigh) News and Observer, April 4, 1989