Local News

Take a Historic Tour of Hillsborough

Posted June 18, 1998

— Some call Hillsborough the antique capital of the state. It's true. There are a lot of antique shops in town that attract a lot of antique collectors. But the most impressive antique can't be bought. It won't even fit in your car. This classic antique is known as Hillsborough's Historic District.

"Actually, if you go back and study some of the history," Joe Rosemond explains, "there was a decision whether the capital would be here in Hillsborough or in Raleigh."

Rosemond doesn't call himself a historian, just a native who grew up on Hillsborough history.

"Well, this was the house that Johnson used as his headquarters for the Civil War," Rosemond points out.

Preserved for history's sake, the place where Confederate General Joseph Johnston offered terms for surrender to Union General William Sherman. On the same site is the home of Alexander Dickson.

"Well you know, this building was moved here," says Rosemond. "It was in a different site, maybe two miles from here. I remember when this house was on the original location. It was almost falling in."

The farm house is now a center piece of the town's efforts to preserve it's past. Rosemond says it's meant a great deal for Hillsborough to get it moved to its current location.

Visitors include it on their walking tour of Hillsborough history. On every block are homes and businesses, whose occupants may change, but the names remain. One building will forever be known as the Music Teacher's home. Since 1759, the same business has kept its doors open.

"The Colonial Inn has been in operation for as long as I can remember," admits Rosemond.

In fact, the town boasts three Bed and Breakfast Inns. Many tourists get the full effect of Hillsborough's past by spending their nights living in Hillsborough's past. The next day's tours could include a visit to an old plantation estate and perhaps a tribute to the grave of some pre-revolutionary war heroes, known as the Regulators, hung by British loyalists for their rebellion over land taxes.

But all this history may never have unfolded. The Occaneechi Indians may have kept all the land for themselves, if not for two things the South is now famous for.

"Settlers on the coast, in the summer time, the mosquitos were so bad, they were moving inland to get away from the heat and the mosquitos," Rosemond points out.

Of course, Hillsborough is not immune to heat and mosquitos, though big shady trees do offer relief.

If you're interested in taking a tour of Hillsborough's historic sites, drop in at the Visitor's Center inside the old Dickson House for maps and information. There are more than 70 sites to see, dating back to the 1700's.

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