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Park review: Explore Raleigh's history at Mordecai Historic Park

Take a tour of the park near downtown Raleigh or just pack a picnic and relax for a bit.

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Sarah Lindenfeld Hall
Mordecai Historic Park feels a little like a world away from busy downtown Raleigh which sits not too many blocks to the south.
The 2.8-acre park features the historic Mordecai House, the oldest house in Raleigh on its original foundation, along with a collection of other historic buildings including the birthplace of Andrew Johnson, the nation's 17th president. (And for those of you wondering about the "original foundation" bit, the Joel Lane House is older, but was taken off its first foundation when it was moved).

I've let my biased be known before. As a child, I thought that I might work as a professional re-enactor, dressing up in 18th century garb and churning butter or something like that. My life took another turn, but I'm still drawn to historic places. And I've always loved Mordecai.

You can take a tour of the Mordecai house and meander through and around the other buildings. The chapel is my favorite. But as Erin Campo, the assistant park director encourages people in the video, you can just make it your park too. Take a picnic, walk your dog or just explore the grounds. Campo tells me park visitors are welcome to pick and take home the vegetables and melons when they're ripe in the park's garden.

Mordecai is home base for the Historic Raleigh Trolley, which runs every Saturday between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. March through December. The hour-long tours make stops at points across downtown Raleigh. You can hop off at a stop and get back on with no additional fee (though seating is not guaranteed when getting back on). Tickets are $10 for adults and $4 for kids ages 7 to 17.
Mordecai has some big events coming up, including Haunted Mordecai on Oct. 30. The day includes lantern tours of the house, said to be among the most haunted houses in North Carolina, haunted trolley tours and a free festival for the kids. Campo tells me that the tours are family friendly - more spooky than scary. And the free festival with foods, games and crafts, is fun for everybody.

Stay tuned for more on the park's Christmas events in December.

And check the video for more information about the park and some scenes.

Mordecai is at 1 Mimosa St. in Raleigh. Park hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday  and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Tours are offered at the top of the hour with the last tour beginning at 3 p.m. Public tours are not offered when school groups are on site. Hour tours are $5 for adults, $3 for seniors and youth. Half hour tours are $3 for adutls and $2 for seniors and youth.

You know best whether your child can last through a tour. The youngest might enjoy just running around the grounds and buildings.

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