Historic Site Reopens Celebrating Colonial Governor Caswell April 7

Published 4:16 pm Tuesday, March 20, 2018

KINSTON — Surveyor, soldier, statesman, governor – Richard Caswell served North Carolina in many capacities and the Richard Caswell Memorial State Historic Site reopens April 7 with a celebration, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Damage from Hurricane Matthew led the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources to temporarily close the Vernon Avenue site in October 2016.

The celebration will include colonial era reenactors as members of the Dobbs County Militia preparing to join the campaign to quell the Regulator Uprising. A small encampment will show how colonial militia men lived, dined and improvised shelter. Visitors can learn about the militia duty of colonial citizens and see flintlock musket and small cannon firings.

Children of the Revolution past president Mary Howell will present a check from donations to help restore the memorial at 11 a.m.

Caswell became surveyor general in 1750 and presented a bill for the establishment of Kingston, which he laid out, in 1772. The name later became Kinston. He served in the Johnston County cavalry with colonial Gov. William Tryon to defeat patriots in the War of Regulation in western North Carolina in 1771. By 1776, he had joined the Patriots and led a decisive victory over British Loyalists that effectively ended British rule in North Carolina. He twice served as governor. Now the site is ready to again share this history with visitors.

“The grounds looked terrible,” said Operations Manager Morris Bass. “The flooding tore apart several shop buildings and even washed out a road. It’s taken us a long time to be able to reopen the site.”

Shortly after the devastating storm passed, Department of Natural and Cultural Resources employees hurriedly removed dozens of artifacts, some more than 200 years old, for safekeeping. Although no floodwaters entered the visitor’s center where artifacts were displayed, support systems including drains, air conditioning and the security system were impacted.

“Fortunately, we have some talented people on staff who helped us overcome many of these problems,” said Matthew Young, site manager for the Gov. Caswell Memorial and CSS Neuse Civil War Interpretive Center. “We recently installed a new, state of the art security system and the city assisted us with some of our drainage problems. We felt that spring was a great time to reopen to the public.”

The Governor Caswell Memorial pays tribute to the first governor of the state of North Carolina and houses artifacts from the Revolutionary period as well as reproductions that portray aspects of his life and times. The site location was once owned by the Caswell family, but only a cemetery owned by the Mosely-Bright Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution remains. It is administered by the Caswell Memorial State Historic Site.

The Governor Richard Caswell Memorial is located at 2612 W. Vernon Ave., Kinston, N.C., and open Friday 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission is free.

For additional information, please call the site at (252) 526-9600 x222. The CSS Neuse Center and the Richard Caswell Memorial are within the Division of State Historic Sites in the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.