Money was the reason for the founding of Fayetteville. As the interior of the Carolinas was being settled in the 1700s merchants on the coast in Wilmington were concerned that the new trade would take place on the Pee Dee River and wind up down in Charleston. They wanted a settlement at the head of navigation on the Cape Fear River, the only navigable waterway entirely in the colony of North Carolina. Scotsmen did the job and the small village of Campbelltown emerged on the banks of the Cape Fear River in 1739. A decade later more Scots established a gristmill and village at Cross Creek, a mile northwest of Campbelltown where, in fact, two streams crossed.
The area became a Tory stronghold as the American colonies moved towards revolution and more than 50 dissenting Whigs gathered in town at Liberty Point on June 20, 1775 and signed resolutions pledging themselves to “resist force by force” and to go forth and be ready to sacrifice our lives and fortunes to secure freedom and safety.” Robert Rowan, an officer in the French and Indian War who settled in Cross Creek as a merchant, became a leader of the Patriot cause and distributed the statement as the “Libert Point Resolves.”
Following the Revolution in 1783 the settlements of Cross Creek and Campbelltown united and were incorporated. Still flush with fervor of patriotism the citizens named the new town Fayetteville, the first to honor the Marquis de Lafayette, major general and top aide to George Washington in the battle for independence. From 1789 until 1793 the General Assembly met in Fayetteville as it served as state capital. The United States Constitution was ratified here and the University of North Carolina chartered. In a vote to create a new state capital, Fayetteville lost out by one vote to legislators who preferred to build a capital from scratch rather than anoint an existing town.
Still, the town prospered into the 1800s, second only to Wilmington in population. Then, on May 29, 1831, sometime around noon a fire started in a kitchen of a house on the northwest corner of Market Square in the center of town. It was a windy day and embers blew from roof to roof of light pine buildings, outpacing the efforts of volunteer firefighters. Four hours later more than 600 homes and 105 stores and businesses had burned. Every church in town, save one, was destroyed. Luckily the fire had started in the middle of the day and everyone was able to escape with their lives. America had never seen anything like it. The entire town was gone. But in an age before federal assistance more than $100,000 in private donations from all over the country was raised and distributed to the Fayetteville people to rebuild.
The river continued to fuel Fayetteville’s economy and the railroads began arriving after 1870 to handle the region’s trade in lumber and textiles. In 1918 Camp Bragg was established as an artillery training ground and following World War I it became a permanent Army post and Fort Bragg, home to several U.S. Army airborne units, has cast its influence on the town ever since. In September 2008, Fayetteville annexed 85% of Fort Bragg, bringing the official population of the city to 206,000.
Our walking tour will begin in the shadow of the likeness of Gilbert du Motier, for whom the town is named...
Cross Creek Park
between Green Street and Ann Street
This land was once the home of Flora Macdonald, a Scottish lass turned heroine for her part in helping Bonnie Prince Charlie, last of the Stuart pretenders to the British throne, escape after his defeat in the Battle of Culloden in 1746. Flora was arrested for her scheming and spent time in the Tower of London before charming her way to release. She married Allan Macdonald in 1750 when she was 28 and in 1774 the couple emigrated to North Carolina. They lived here along Cross Creek but it was a short stay. When Americans declared their independence from the throne the Macdonalds cast their lot with the Loyalists and were soon back in Scotland. The landscaped greenspace features a statue of the Marquis de Lafayette. Fayetteville was the first of many American towns to adopt the name of the Revolutionary War hero - in 1783 - and it is the only city that the Frenchman actually visited. During his 50th Jubilee tour of the United States Lafayette stayed at the home of Duncan McRae two blocks south of here.
WALK PAST THE STATUE OF GENERAL LAFAYETTE THROUGH THE PARK TO ANN STREET.
First Presbyterian Church
Bow and Ann streets
Presbyterians came with the settling of the area but a church was not organized until 1800 and the first meetinghouse was completed in 1816. Like much of the town, it perished in the Great Fire of 1831. This classic Southern Colonial church with its soaring steeple rose on the walls of the original building. The church was dedicated in 1832 and has spawned a handful of area congregations ever since.
FROM THE CORNER OF ANN AND BOW STREETS TURN LEFT ON BOW STREET AND WALK TO ITS CONCLUSION AT PERSON STREET.
Liberty Point Store
145 Person Street at Bow Street
This is the oldest building in the downtown district, a 1790s era relic that is a rare survivor of the 1831 Fayetteville fire. The brick building sports stone keystone lintels and parapet gables soaring above the roofline at each end. Near this site on June 20, 1775, a group of fifty-five patriots signed a document of freedom one year before the Declaration of Independence was signed, popularly known as the Liberty Point Resolves. A granite boulder commemorates their pledge to their country as well lists the names of the fifty-five signers.
TURN LEFT ON PERSON STREET.
232 Person Street
When Bond Sedberry, who owned a drug store in town, constructed this Queen Anne residence in 1891 it was just one of many such Victorian homes up and down Person Street. Now its neighbors are mostly parking lots and the house stands as a curiosity from a distant age. The Queen Anne form as represented here is most evident in the wrap-around porch with elaborate woodwork and a corner turret.
WALK BACK A FEW STEPS TO THE INTERSECTION. TURN LEFT ON FRANKLIN STREET. WHEN FRANKLIN STREET BENDS TO THE RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE NEW COURTHOUSE BEAR LEFT. THE ROAD IN FRONT OF THE COURTHOUSE IS DICK STREET. STAY ON DICK STREET AND CROSS RUSSELL STREET.
225 Dick Street
This complex includes a trio of white frame buildings from 200 years ago: the two-story Sandford House, a free-standing octagonal Oval Ballroom and the New England-style Baker-Haigh-Nimocks House. The symmetrical Georgian-style Sandford House with a double portico was constructed in 1797 and was supposedly a barracks for William Sherman’s Union troops during the Civil War. “Sandford” was not the builder but an owner after 1823 when, as a cashier for the Fayetteville Bank, he purchased the house. The Baker-Haigh-Nimocks House was constructed in 1804 and stands as a splendid example of a low country house found throughout the coastal Carolinas. In between stands a ballroom that was moved here in the 1950s when the property was owned by the Woman’s Club of Fayetteville.
WALK DOWN THE SHORT STREET IN FRONT OF HERITAGE SQUARE, HALLIDAY STREET. AT GILLESPIE STREET TURN RIGHT AND CROSS BACK OVER RUSSELL STREET.
Cumberland County Courthouse
130 Gillespie Street
Harry Barton, a Philadelphia architect who moved to Greensboro in mid-career, designed many classically-inspired courthouses and municipal buildings across central North Carolina. The gray stone building was constructed in 1924 by William P. Rose, a Johnston County native who began as a carpenter and built one of the largest contracting businesses in eastern and central North Carolina. The substantial three-story building sports a wealth of carved stone decorations, including engaged Ionic columns.
101 Gillespie Street
This property was developed by brothers Jacob and Kalman Stein in 1916-1917. Its five stories marked it as Fayetteville’s first skyscraper, outfitted with a resplendent Spanish Revival tile roof.
WALK OVER TO THE CENTER OF THE INTERSECTION.
Market Square at the intersection of Green and Gillespie, Person and Hay streets
On this site in the center of town once stood the old State House where the Constitution of the United States was ratified, the University of North Carolina chartered and where, on March 4, 1825 the Marquis de Lafayette addressed the townsfolk and offered thanks for naming the town in his honor. The State House burned six years later. It was replaced by the three-bay brick Market House surrounded by arched passageways. Following the English town hall-market model the second floor was used as the town hall while meats and produce were hawked by farmers in the lower arcades. In recent years the Market House has done duty as an art museum, library and office space.
WALK OVER TO THE HEAD OF HAY STREET TO BEGIN TOURING FAYETTEVILLE’S MAIN COMMERCIAL ARTERY.
Cumberland National Bank
100 Hay Street
Charles Conrad Hartmann was a classically-trained New York City architect who was recruited to Greensboro in 1921 to design the landmark Jefferson Standard Building. He stayed in North Carolina and built a busy practice, building many of the first true skyscrapers in communities around the state. Such was the case with the Cumberland National Bank that stood as Fayetteville’s tallest building for forty years after being finished in 1926. The 10-story, granite faced tower was one of Hartmann’s favorite structures - he gave the building a classical shaft above a colonnade of Ionic columns to blend with the Market House across the street.
Capitol Department Store
126 Hay Street
Jacob and Kalman Stein grew up in South Africa, the sons of a Lithuanian tailor who migrated there in the last decades of the 1800s. Jacob Stein made his way to Baltimore and began a career as a traveling salesman of mens’ and boys’ furnishings. One place he particularly liked on his route was Fayetteville. He sent for his brother and together they opened a store on Market Square. In 1912 the brothers opened the Capitol Department Store, making regular buying trips up north to select clothing as the Capitol began the most sophisticated emporium in town with a grand second-story convex window - a place where ladies would put on their white gloves to shop. The current Modernist facade of marble and mosaic dates to the mid-1900s. The Capitol would fight off the rise of suburban shopping malls until 1990 when it finally closed.
Fayetteville Arts Center
301 Hay Street
This Neoclassical structure of light-colored brick and stone trim topped by a roof balustrade was constructed in 1911 as the town post office. After a half-century of service the building did duty as a library and is moving into its second century as the home of the county Arts Council.
Fayetteville Mutual Insurance Company Building
320 Hay Street
This small brick building pre-dates the Civil War. It has been much altered through the decades, including some sixty years as the home of Point News. Now under a coat of stucco, the building is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Hay Street United Methodist Church
Hay Street at Ray Avenue and Old Street
Methodists began a presence in Fayetteville in the early 1800s, attending meetings conducted by fabled circuit riding preacher Francis Asbury. the congregation officially organized in 1808. This Gothic Revival church came along 100 years later, retaining a section of the original church in its foundation. The bell in the corner tower dates to 1868.
Huske Hardware House
405 Hay Street
Benjamin R. Huske opened his hardware story in 1903 in a handsome classically-inspired masonry building two stories high with large display windows on the street level. Huske offered just about anything a new homeowner at the the turn of the 20th century could need and his enterprise grew rapidly. You can see the essence of the original Huske store in the lower left side of the building - notice how the third floor and western extensions are architecturally undistinguished; utilitarian additions necessary to handle Huske’s growing business. That business lasted until 1970 and since then the building has served many tenants, most recently a restaurant and brewery.
Hotel Prince Charles
450 Hay Street
The seven-story Hotel Prince Charles, dressed in Italian Renaissance details, opened in April 1925 with grand dreams of capturing the new wave of Florida-bound travelers. Backed by local investors, the hotel failed to gain traction in the market and less than four years after it opened it was sold at auction for $225,000. Over the years such luminaries as Mickey Rooney and Amelia Earhart signed the guest register but the Prince Charles has never found its glory days. spending years neglected or being completely vacant. Yet the building landed on the National Register of Historic Places.
North side of Hay Street at Pittman Street
Located one block to the north, on the north side of Maiden Lane, Scotch Spring was owned by two prominent citizens, Robert Cochran and John Hay, and was a major water source for Fayetteville in the late eighteenth century. Throughout the nineteenth century, it continued to operate as a primary water source, eventually to be abandoned during the early 1900s.
Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Passenger Depot
472 Hay Street
This is the third passenger depot serving Fayetteville from this location, constructed in 1911 by the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad. The building was constructed by the line’s official architect, Joseph F. Leitner, who was working out of Wilmington. In Fayetteville Leitner employed an eclectic style with shaped gables and classical detailing such as corner quoins. The station was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982 and, with a recent exterior renovation, is still handling passengers after 100 years.
RETRACE YOUR STEPS ON HAY STREET BACK TO OLD STREET AND TURN LEFT, IN FRONT OF THE HAY STREET UNITED METHODIST CHURCH.
First Baptist Church
200 Old Street at Anderson Street
The congregation organized on November 25, 1837 with 28 members. In 1906 the long-serving original church building was outgrown and demolished. This handsome Romanesque brick church was holding services by 1910; stained glass windows remember some of the founding families of the church.
CONTINUE TO THE END OF OLD STREET AT GREEN STREET. ACROSS THE STREET TO YOUR RIGHT IS..
116 Green Street
This Colonial Revival brick building was a Depression-era project, completed in 1941. Since the city government relocated to Hay Street it has done duty as a children’s museum.
TURN LEFT ON GREEN STREET.
225 Green Street
This International-style 11-story tower has been the tallest building in Fayetteville since it was constructed for Wachovia Bank in the early 1970s.
234 Green Street
This elegantGreek Revival townhouse was built in the 1830s by Scottish merchant James Kyle. Kyle spared no expense in building his home. With memories of the Great Fire of 1831 - the Fayetteville Academy had previously stood here - still fresh, kyle had the exterior walls built 18 inches thick and filled with sand for fireproofing and insulation. After standing in its shadow for 150 years the Kyle House was purchased by St. John’s Church in 1990.
Saint John’s Episcopal Church
302 Green Street
For many years Fayetteville’s Episcopalians made do at Presbyterian services until formally organizing Saint John’s on April 7, 1817. The original church building was completed in 1819 with a single spire which housed the town clock. It went up in flames in 1831 and an aid-seeking trip North returned $7,600 and a bell (later given to the confederate cause) from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Troy, New York. The bell would later be sacrificed for Confederate armaments. The new church, the current building, was ready by 1832.
TURN AND WALK BACK DOWN GREEN STREET A FEW STEPS TO THE TOUR STARTING POINT IN CROSS CREEK PARK.