Washington history airs on UNC-TV

Published 9:05 pm Wednesday, June 26, 2013



TV-viewers across the state will learn about some of Washington’s hidden history over the next week.

UNC-TV will air two segments showcasing Washington on “North Carolina Now.”

The first segment airs Friday at 7:30 p.m. and again early Saturday at 1:30 a.m. It explores the James Adams Floating Theater, the inspiration behind Edna Ferber’s 1926 novel “Showboat,” which would later be adapted to a Broadway play and two movies. But the theater itself was built in Washington and spent years traveling the Pamlico and Pungo rivers, sometimes venturing further out into the waterways up and down the South’s Atlantic coastline. Along the way, the floating theater and its resident actors brought a rare brand of entertainment to rural coastal communities, according to Clay Johnson, the producer of the upcoming segments and a resident of Bath.

“The novel, play, movie, etc. would not have happened if Ferber had not boarded the floating theater in Bath,” Johnson said.

Johnson often highlights local points of interest for segments airing on UNC-TV shows “North Carolina Now” and “North Carolina Weekend.” Johnson’s second segment takes on a less-known part of Washington’s history — that of the African-Americans who were born, lived and died here before and during the Civil War.

This history is the subject of a segment to air on July 4 at 9 p.m., then again on July 5 at 8:30 p.m. and July 6 at 10 a.m. The piece documents how Washington native Leesa Jones’ research into her ancestors produced a wealth of history she’s since parlayed into African-American walking tours along the Washington waterfront and the downtown historic district.

“Washington has a rich history, but it’s not very visible,” Johnson explained. “There aren’t many historic buildings or other historic sites and it lacks a history museum.  But there’s a great tourism resource there and Leesa is tapping into it.

She’s providing a glimpse into a hidden history that’s both important and fascinating.”

Both of Johnson’s segments will also be posted on unctv.org.