Local News

Eno House Is Orange County Historical Treasure

Posted September 5, 2001 11:53 a.m. EDT

— Many families choose to spend part of their Labor Day weekend at state parks. The Eno River State Park is a very short drive, just north of Durham, and soon, visitors will be able to walk into an important part of that area's history, as a new museum is a work in progress.

"The roots of Orange County are all along the river," Park Superintendent Dave Cook said.

At a bend in the Eno River, one family decided to build their home 250 years ago.

"The first part of the house was built in the 1700s by the Pipers, who worked the mill and who ran a school house nearby," Cook said.

The Piper family lived in a three-room cabin. The Cox family attached a more modern home in 1879.

"We had one photograph taken about 1905 that shows the front of the house. It looked real different. It looks like it looks now, as opposed to the way it looked when we took over the house," Cook said.

Cook says the plan has always been to restore the old home and turn it into a museum, a cultural center detailing the history of the Eno River valley.

The earliest settlers did not move close to the river just because they liked the view. It was their food source, their energy source for powering their mills. They also used it to build their homes.

The river provides for the home's very foundation and may have been the means for transporting huge beams of hand-hewn lumber.

It was a time before power tools when life was harder, yet simpler. The oldest part was built before the country was born.

"This house was started then, and reminds us of that heritage," Cook said.

The restoration project cost $276,000, funded through the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund. They hope to have the home open for visitors by October.