Friday, 10 August 2018 13:05

Historic site offers two new guided tours

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Historic Halifax State Historic Site is offering two new guided tours which include access to the site’s historic structures while exploring the lives of the town’s early citizens.  

Halifax is best known for the April 12 1776 Halifax Resolves when North Carolina’s founding fathers made the first official move toward independence from Great Britain.  

The new tours will highlight the fundamental conflict between the American Revolution’s fight for freedom and an economy based on the enslavement of African Americans.  

The new tours unpack the complexity of life in early North Carolina while visiting historic buildings that have collectively witnessed more than 250 years of American history.  

(The remaining August schedule is included as a PDF at the end of this story)

Each tour offers a theme and a fresh perspective for touring these unique historic structures ranging from 1760 to 1838.  

The Slavery and Freedom in Halifax tour focuses on the trials, tribulations and victories of early Halifax’s African American residents.

Buildings visited include the Burgess Law Office (circa 1808), Montfort Archaeology Museum, and the Sally-Billy house (circa 1808).  

The Sally-Billy House was once part of a plantation near Scotland Neck that encompassed 12,000 acres and was worked by 200 enslaved individuals.

Visitors will learn about the African American waterman who transported goods up and down the Roanoke River and helped make Halifax a transportation hub and their involvement in the Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.  

The tour also unravels the complex history of Halifax’s free African American citizens including Miles Howard who went from being an enslaved barber to plantation owner in antebellum North Carolina and John Chavis a former Revolutionary War soldier, teacher and possibly the first African American Presbyterian minister in the United States.       

The Revolutionary Halifax walking tour focuses on Halifax’s role in the American Revolution.  This tour includes the interiors of two of the site’s eighteenth century buildings — the Owens merchant house (circa 1760) and Tap Room tavern (circa 1780s).  

Participants in this tour will learn how Halifax became First in Freedom with the ratification of the Halifax Resolves, and how North Carolina’s freedom from British rule was put to the test during the May, 1781 Battle of Halifax.

Historic Halifax has also added more historic demonstrations to the regular schedule on most days.  

In August, costumed staff members are demonstrating and explaining historic trades such as gardening, sewing, and printing.  

Some of these activities offer hands-on ways for visitors to experience history such as tavern games, printing and quill pen writing.  

As staffing allows, musket firing demonstrations will be offered at the site on Fridays and Saturdays at 2 p.m.  Call ahead to confirm specific demonstrations. Historic Halifax is currently seeking volunteers to supplement the site’s living history programming.  

In addition to the regularly scheduled guided tours, the site also offers several self-guided tour options including the 1838 Jail, Eagle Tavern Museum, and the Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Trail.

Historic Halifax is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  

Guided Tours Include: The noon Slavery and Freedom in Halifax Tour, and the 1 p.m. Revolutionary Halifax Tour.  Each guided tour typically lasts 45 minutes.

Scheduled demonstrations and daily self-guided tours are available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  The site is closed on Sundays, Mondays and most State Holidays.

The Historic Halifax State Historic Site visitor center is located at 25 Saint David Street in Halifax.

For more information about Historic Halifax and the site’s regular tours and activities, or special events, call Historic Halifax at 252-583-7191, or visit

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