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10 The Tar Ked Thursday, July 5, 1S0O
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The Bennehan House far left, completed
in 1799, serves as headquarters for
Stagville Preservation Center ... Duke
Gardens, left, offer visitors a pleasant
afternoon ... Single Brothers House,
O p) p)
By Susan Mauney
For many, the word "plantation" conjures up images of Tara in
Gone With the Wind, of stately mansions glimpsed through moss
hung oaks. Few people realize that one of the most prosperous
plantations in the old South was in North Carolina.
But Stagville plantation, located in northern Durham County
just a few minutes' drive from Durham, was just that. In its most
prosperous times before the Civil War, the cotton and tobacco
plantation covered more than 30,000 acres including parts of
Granville, Person, Wake and Durham counties.
Today, Stagville is a state-owned historic site renamed Stagville
Preservation Center. Through projects such as building
restoration, archeological digs and seminars, the center serves as an
educational center for people interested in discovering and
preserving their heritage.
Probably he most interesting feature of Stagville Center is its
own heritage. The center is the old Bennehan-Cameron house,
which once was the hub of the large plantation.
The plantation was begun by a Virginian, Richard Bennehan.
He moved to North Carolina in 1768 to manage a store in Snow
Hill, located a few miles from the plantation house.
The l'4 story Georgian-style house has few of the flourishes
common to the homes of rich planters during the 18th century. In
His letters, Bennehan said he "did not go in for such flairs-" as, for
example, ceiling molding. He added another two-story section to
his home in 1799 and named the completed home Stagville.
Paul Cameron, Richard Bennehan's grandnephew, inherited
Stagville in 1847 along with more than 10,000 acres, and in 1853 he
gained control of the Cameron family plantation Fairntosh that
adjoined Stagville. The combined land holdings were extensive,
and under Cameron management the plantation flourished.
There were seldom fewer than 100 slaves and often as many as
500 Before the Civil War. Paul Cameron was known to.be the
richest man in North Carolina.
It was then that the slave houses at Horton Grove were built. The
grove is part of the preservation center and the houses are an
integral part of the program. !, .
The three two-story slave houses are estimated to have been built
in 1 860. They still are structurally sound, having been built of brick
and timber hand-hewn by slave labor. Each four-room house is
identical, and the walls are unique because they are built using
The wooden supports are filled in with bricks and mortar. The
style was prominent in houses built in Britain during the 17th
century and reflects the Scotush background of the Cameron
family, as does the Great Barn which was begun in 1850 and
finished nine years later. Site manager Steve Cruse said the barn is
"as structurally sound as the day it was built."
Also at Horton Grove is Horton Cottage, built in 1776 and the
oldest structure there. The builders of the cottage were the
recipients of the original land grant from the King of England.
The plantation prospered following the Civil War. Paul
Cameron managed the plantation with the help of many former
slaves and white overseers on a contract basis.
The plantation remained in the Cameron family until 1950
when the northern half of the estate was sold for timberland. In
1954, ihis section was sold to Liggett and Myers Tobacco Co.
Fairntosh became the private residence of Paul Cameron's
Liggett donated 7l acres for the center to the state of North
Carolina for a historical site in 1976. Stagville, Great Barn, and
Horton Grove comprise the Stagville Preservation Center. The
Richard Bennehan house serves as the headquarters and is being
slowly restored. "Hpw-to" programs are held in the house and
instructors use the house itself as a model for the demonstrations.
Even though the house is well preserved for its age, some
restoration has been necessary. New hardwood floors have been
installed and each brick in the structure's foundation has been
remortared to match the original appearance as closely as possible.
Except for the recessed electric. lights in the house's ceilings, the
house will one day look very much as it did when its builder lived
there. But, for now, each room is a teaching an'd learning center for
state-sponsored workshops and groups interested in preserving a
Students from Durham Technical Institute are stabilizing th
Horton Grove houses. Stabilizing is the first step in restoration
when the building is solidified structurally to prevent further
deterioration. Each beam tfaty wrgace kvtne houses is hand-hewn
as the originals were.
Durham Tech sponsors archeological digs each summer. This
year they will excavate the outdoor kitchen at Stagville and parts of
One state-sponsored program is usually held each month at the
center. A classroom on the second floor of the Bennehan house
accommodates 30 participants and the classes are often full.
The programs focus qn restoration and preservation of houses
and gardens. A seminar titled "Rural Wooden Buildings'held
June 7, taught ways to repair and repalce.wood, the form and
function of historic framing methods and characteristics of
wooden materials. Another seminar at Old Salem will deal with
restoring old landscaped gardens.
Stagville's program is in the. early stages, but it already is well
respected. "There is no other historic site like this," Steve Cruse
said.i nationally prominent and we have 1,600 names on our
mailing list." The center publishes its own newsletter to inform
patrons of new projects, grants and workshop's.
Much interest has been aroused in the area, as excavation at the
site has revealed that the Bennehans were not the only inhabitants
of the area. A heavily traveled Indian trading path from Edenton to
Salisbury ran within 250 feet of the center.
"I find bits of pottery everywhere," Cruse said. "We hope that
one day we can get an archeological lab built here so we can have a
staff of archeologists here at all times."
Stagville's land is limited to the 71 acres given to the center by
Liggett, but Cruse said he hopes that in time the state will be able
to buy more of the old plantation in order to do more extensive
By Martha Johnsen
Even in the summer, Chapel Hill can be too
bustling. There are moments when you want to get
away from the classes, the construction and the
traffic of this growing college town.
What you may not realize is that Duke University
has preserved 8,500 acres of trees, creeks and bluffs in
Orange and neighboring counties for public use.
Duke Forest, as the five separate tracts of land are
called, is an undisturbed haven for those yearning to
get out of town.
There are miles of wide, well-cleared trails for
jogging, hiking and nature watching. No cars or
motorbikes are allowed on the trails, though it is not
unusual for a pair of horses to go trotting by.
"We don't advertise for recreational purposes
because we don't want the forest disturbed by huge
hordes of people," says Mary Matthews, public
relauons specialist for the Duke School of Forestry
and Environmental Studies.
f,We are a private forest but we are available for
public use," she says. "It's a pretty place to go any
time of the year for people who like to walk and
enjoy the out-of-doors without disturbing it."
Chapel Hillians are fortunate enough to have the
Korstian division, a major portion of Duke Forest,
almost on their doorstep. Four miles from the corner
of Franklin Street and Airport Road is Riggsbre
Road, the right turn just past McDuffie Memorial
Driving or biking along this quiet country road,
you will find several trail entrances to Duke Forest
on your left. They are marked with numbered green
gateposts, closed with an iron chain barring
vehicles. There the shoulder is wide enough to park
Each of the trails offers its own distinct features.
For example. Gate 26, about three miles down
Riggsbee Road, has a trail which leads to
rhododendron-covered bluffs overlooking the New
Trail 26 is one of the Forest's shorter ones.
winding through the forest to the creek. As you
walk, the noise of civilization grows faint behind
you. All you can hear is the resonant rushing of the
creek, the buzzing of bees and a chorus of woodland
A free brochure which describes the flora and
provides directions to and descriptions of die
numerous other trails is available from the Duke
Forest Administration office. Designated picnic lites
may also be reserved through this office. To do so.
By Sarah West
Africa is generally thought to br
located somewhere under Europe. It
may be. But Africa can also be found at
the N.C. Zoological Park near
Last Saturday, the park celebrated the
grand opening of Africa, the first
zoogeographic area established thne. A
zoogeographic area is an area designed
to resemble the natural environment of
a specific area, which in this case is
"The animals are placed in natural
habitats," said public affairs officer
Marcia Constantino. "They are not in
cages; instead, they are contained
within the exhibit areas by moats."
Six natural habitats have been
completed. Visitors to the zoo can see
lions, chimpanzees, elephants,
rhinocerosesand other African animal
species roaming free in areas
comparable to their native homes.
"The exhibit areas are spacious. The
elephants and rhinoceros habitats are
each three acres," Constantino said.
"The location of each habitat fits well
into a terrain natural to the animals."
she continued. "For example, the
elephants and rhinos have been plated
in a natural plains area."
The chimpanzee habitat provides the
chimps with rocks, trees and vines for
climbing and a stream for drinking and
playing. Visitor walkways throughout
Africa enable zoo guests to view tlr
animals from within the landscape.
Site preparation and construction U
Africa began in 1976, and further
construction in the area is funded
through 1983. Future addition to
Africa include a free-flight aviary
enclosed by a transparent dxne and a
40,000 square-foot climate controlled
building for mammals, birds and
reptiles with special tempVrature and
When Africa is. complete,
construction on North America will
begin, Constantino said.
"We are building the zoo according to
continents,- she said. "Africa was
selected first because when most people
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