Crossing the bridge over Queen Anne’s Creek, you’ll find yourself swiftly transported to a vast and picturesque country estate. The history of Hayes Farm in Edenton is rich and storied, reflecting a significant part of North Carolina’s heritage. Originally settled in the late 18th century by Samuel Johnston, who went on to become the fourth governor of North Carolina and a United States Senator, the property became a marvel of Chowan County. His son Gabriel, a lifelong Bachelor, inherited the estate and left it to his best friend and business partner, Edward Wood. The farm has been home to the Wood Family for over 150 years, but in recent efforts has been purchased by the State of North Carolina to ensure its preservation under the care of the local Elizabeth Van Moore Foundation.
Plans are underway to transform the property into a state historic site, providing public access to educational and recreational opportunities. The 194-acre site, featuring unique wetlands and breathtaking views of the Albemarle Sound, is set to be a haven for nature lovers and history enthusiasts alike. As part of the restoration, Hayes Farm will also serve as a crucial access point to the Albemarle Sound for water recreation. Visit Edenton is proud to support this project as a symbol of the town’s commitment to preserving its past while also investing in its future.
Stay tuned for the latest updates and developments regarding the beloved Hayes Farm.
- The State of North Carolina finalized the purchase on December 30th, 2022 and agreed to a 50-year lease with the Elizabeth Vann Moore Foundation
- The main house is considered by architectural scholars to be “one of the South’s most accomplished examples of a five-part Palladian villa,” and was designated a National Historic Landmark on November 7, 1973, and added to the National Register of Historic Places on February 26, 1974.
- The property also includes a total of 28 structures, including a carriage house and six enslaved workers’ cottages.
- A special wing was built to store Johnston’s impressive book collection. UNC Chapel Hill’s Wilson Library now houses a replication of the early nineteenth-century library, distinguished by its octagonal, Gothic design.