Today, Edenton is a land of stunning colonial architecture, impeccably preserved historical sites, and fascinating history that draws people from all over the country.
Academics and tourists alike come to Edenton because of the carefully preserved history.
But, this wasn’t always so.
I’d like to tell you about the fascinating history of Edenton’s iconic Cupola house and how residents of Edenton unwittingly set the stage for today’s visitor boom back in 1918.
It has always been an important place, often considered the most significant early dwelling in North Carolina.
A combination of factors led to this, including its age, the prominent family that owned it, and the priceless period furniture and Georgian woodwork adorning the building.
For 141 years, the Cupola house stood proud, looking over historic downtown Edenton.
The last family member to own the Cupola house, Tillie Bond, was in dire financial straits.
In desperation, she began selling off the priceless one-of-a-kind elements of the house, including the ornate Georgian woodwork to the Brooklyn Museum.
Most of the surrounding property was sold off, and the manor sank into a dilapidated state, time and weather weighing heavily on the once stately manor.
In response to the firesale of priceless pieces to the Brooklyn Museum, residents formed the Cupola House Association and quickly raised funds to purchase and preserve the property.
They didn’t know it then, but the Cupola House Association began a series of events which is
still shaping this community today.
For 45 years, the Cupola House was Edenton’s library until it moved next door.
In the 1960s, the association began to reproduce the iconic Georgian woodwork sold by Tillie Bond (which still belongs to the Brooklyn Museum).
In the next decade, they repurchased the land sold around the house.
And in 1971, the Cupola House was named a National Historic Landmark.
Volunteers lovingly tend the garden filled with plants that would have populated it generations ago, meeting weekly to maintain and care for the gorgeous gardens around the property.
Visitors can tour the Cupola House Tuesday through Saturday, see the gorgeous interior, and learn about history.
Today, Edenton is a destination for thousands of visitors every year because those citizens intervened in 1918 to save the Cupola House.
They certainly had no idea about the impact they would have decades later.
But, their efforts not only saved the Cupola House from being pilfered, but they also preserved this incredible piece of history for generations to come.
Today, the Cupola House Association continues its mission to preserve this priceless estate and help thousands of visitors experience it every year.
If you’ve been to Edenton, you’ve seen firsthand what a priceless treasure the Cupola House is.
And, if you are planning your visit this year, make sure the Iconic Cupola House is on the list of places to visit.
You don’t want to miss it!