A tale of two cities

Published 3:04 pm Monday, June 14, 2021

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Washington is truly a tale of two cities. A tale is a narrative, story, or account of a series of related events or experiences whether fictional or non.

Our town’s two greatest stories or tales are its great beauty and its history.  At the Washington Waterfront Underground Railroad Museum, we have welcomed visitors from all fifty states and many countries. Many remark how pretty this waterfront town is, but not just the waterfront.

Many tourists say they ride all over town to see the landscape.

They talk about our city parks located throughout Washington and admire the architecture of the many old homes, churches and buildings and even the cemeteries. They comment on the diversity in the stores and restaurants, and how our town is decorated with something for everyone.


Our other great story is our history.  Washington has history for everyone. This waterfront town has chronicles of its people who have lived here for centuries.  And now that history is coming off the pages of books and walking the streets of Washington, inviting you to as the old folks used to say, stop a spell and listen.


People enjoy experiences and walking history tours provide that whether self-guided or having docents as costumed characters share stories and make history come alive for the people taking the tour.  Milt and I often dress in costume on our history tours.  Terry Rollins has an awesome ghost walk tour that features a lot of local history that he shares while in costume.


The Historic Washington Walking Tour booklet and pamphlet available at the Chamber of Commerce Visitor’s Center, Brown Library and other venues will provide you with history about the downtown historic district which covers Hackney Avenue to McNair Street and from the waterfront to Second Street.


I have six walking tours that cover the city of Washington that highlights the history of African Americans from the late 1600’s.   In addition, I also feature Native American history and the history of many immigrants who settled here, built lasting legacies and had streets and buildings named for them.


The brief history of Washington that is covered in Historic Walking Tour Guide states “as early as 1585, English explorers visited an area that would become Washington; by the 1690’s early settlements appeared. In the 1770’s, James Bonner started the town of Washington.”  So, there’s a lot of history here either already known and the history that is being uncovered and shared. And, it’s everybody’s history.


Walking tours are currently being developed that will feature even more local history as well as the history of music, art and folklore.


Washington’s heritage is its beauty and great history. It’s available to all and it’s everywhere you look. I hope you’ll put on your walking shoes and join in these tours to discover some really cool history.

For more info about my walking history tours, check out my history page ‘I’m from Washington NC and nobody told me this’ on Facebook or call or stop by the Washington Waterfront Underground Railroad Museum.


Leesa Jones is a Washington native and the Co-founder and Executive Director of the Washington Waterfront Underground Railroad Museum.