Thursday, December 27, 2012

Battle of Fort Fisher...again

If you've traveled to Wilmington, you've probably heard of Fort Fisher. If you've seen the recent movie "Lincoln," you're sure to have heard of the place.

Just a few dozen miles south of Wilmington, the Civil War-era military bastion was built to guard the important port city from Union attack up the Cape Fear River. Once North Carolina seceeded from the Union in 1861, the city -- and thus the Fort -- became a prime target for the Union.

On Jan. 19, the Fort Fisher State Historic Site will host a living history program to commemorate the anniversary of the Second Battle of fort Fisher, the largest land-sea battle of the war. Here are excerpts from the state's news release:

"Kure Beach, N.C.: The year 2013 marks the 148th anniversary of the end of the Civil War. ... Thanks to the recently released Steven Spielberg film “Lincoln” and its multiple references to Wilmington, North Carolina and the Battle of Fort Fisher, millions of movie-goers are now more familiar with the fort’s important historical role as the last fort to fall to Union troops during the Civil War. Fort Fisher embraces this new spotlight and welcomes history buffs and fans of the movie year-round to explore its Civil War battlefield, monuments, museum, and special events.
As part of the state's observance of the Civil War Sesquicentennial, the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources’ Fort Fisher State Historic Site will host “Sheppard’s Battery: Confederates Defending the Left Flank,” a special living history program on January 19, 2013. This year’s anniversary commemoration will focus on the Confederate defenders at Sheppard’s Battery and around the “Bloody Gate” on the left flank of Fort Fisher. Re-enactors will set up displays of Civil War camp life and talk with visitors about the life of the Confederate infantry and artillery troops during the January 1865 campaign. Other highlights include Civil War authors, artillery and infantry demonstrations, cannon and small arms firings, including the site’s rifled and banded 32-pound cannon atop Sheppard’s Battery. Events begin at 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. The program is free and open to the public.

Volunteers in period costume will bring history to life throughout the day. Guest speakers include local historian Ernie Kniffen, who will discuss new findings on his extensive research of Confederate sailors and Marines. Author Richard Triebe will sign books and discuss N.C. troops who were captured at Fort Fisher and sent to a prison camp in Elmira, N.Y. Also on site will be author, educator, and member of the Wilmington Railroad Museum board of trustees, James Burke, who will sign and promote his book, “The Wilmington and Weldon Railroad in the Civil War.” At 12:30 p.m., the N.C. Underwater Archaeology Unit will dedicate a new highway marker for the Civil War blockade runner Modern Greece, which ran aground and sank near Fort Fisher.

Fort Fisher’s programs afford visitors a wonderful opportunity to learn more about local history and Fort Fisher's role in the Civil War. Fort Fisher, the largest earthen fortification in the Confederacy, once protected the port of Wilmington and the vital blockade running trade on the Cape Fear River. After two massive bombardments the fort fell to a Union infantry assault on January 15, 1865. With the capture of Fort Fisher, Wilmington’s port—the “Lifeline of the Confederacy”—was closed to foreign trade.

Fort Fisher State Historic Site is located in Kure Beach, just 20 miles south of Wilmington, at 1

Fort Fisher State Historic Site is located in Kure Beach, just 20 miles south of Wilmington, at 1610 Fort Fisher Blvd. S., along US Highway 421. Visitors, residents, and motorists are advised of loud explosions during cannon firings and artillery demonstrations. ... "

If you've never been to a re-enactment, you'll want to catch this...especially if you're a Civil War buff. And enjoy a chilly walk on the beach while you're there.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Monday, December 17, 2012

Comfort...where we stay

We patronize a number of hotel chains when we travel, depending on the city and the price. But we do have a preference.

It's the Choice Hotels line of lodgings. More specifically, we generally stay at a Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites or Sleep Inn.

The reasons are simple. All three offer rooms that usually are comfortable and clean. We usually can find a good price on a room at the hotels. We have found a few gems.

We both are fond of sneaking away to the lobby to read quietly, and Choice tends to provide cozy lobby spaces. Depending on the owner/franchisee, the hotels usually offer a decent free breakfast. In short, we rarely have been disappointed with our reservation.

Sleep Inns, a bit lower on the chain's spectrum, are simple and usually clean. They are affordable. And they have a funky circular shower that breaks the hotel-room monotony.

We book with Choice so much that I joined its Choice Privileges rewards plan. It's brown-wrapper plain, and I recently had a bad experience with it. But it's simple to use, and we enjoy a free room about once a year!

In a future post, I'll share the way I search for a good price on accommodations.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Deal alert! Oceanfront efficiency

Pay $40 per night for an $80 efficiency at The Whaler Inn Beach Club. It’s a deal through The News & Observer’s dealsaver.com site. But hurry. You have to make the purchase – up to five nights -- by midnight Saturday.

We’ve never stayed at The Whaler, but it’s been around forever and has a good reputation. The oceanfront hotel is in Pine Knoll Shores, just down the road from Atlantic Beach, on the Crystal Coast. It boasts an enclosed swimming pool and game room, if you’re taking the children.

There are a number of restrictions. It’s only for Sunday through Thursday stays. The deal is subject to availability, but fewer than 30 nights have been booked of a total of 300 available.

Click here for all of the details.

Surprise her. Or him

Many years ago, when our daughter was 2 or 3 years old, it struck me that my wife was feeling pretty stressed. What I did next has stayed with her and me all these years. Let me recommend this course of action to you, when you see your spouse feeling weary.

The thought popped into my mind to take my wife away for a short vacation. And I mean short: We didn't have lots of vacation money. I looked around for what for us would be an exotic destination, but close enough that it wouldn't cost a lot in gas and meals.

I'm not sure how, but I came up with Danville, Va. It was just a few hours away. It was across the state line, which was exotic enough. It had a section with old houses, where we could just walk and enjoy. I learned that it had a museum of the Confederacy, which for us meant indulging our enjoyment of history. And I found a good hotel whose rates were modest in early spring.

My little daughter and I called ourselves "kidnapping" Mom from an appointment that she had that  morning. We drove up to Danville, which straddles the Dan River, along back roads lined with trees just beginning to show their spring buds. We packed a lunch, I seem to remember, but otherwise we ate at local places that didn't charge chain-restaurant prices.

We left early enough in the day to see a good portion of Danville's sights. We stayed only overnight, but that gave us enough rest to take in more of Danville the next day, including its quaint downtown.

It ate up just two vacation days, but that was plenty to absorb a lot of at-home stress. It was time very well spent!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Crystal Coast freebie

One of our favorite times to spend at the beach is the late fall and winter. Sunrises and sunsets are spectacular. The crush of tourists is long gone...which makes long, quiet walks on the beach that much easier. The weather is usually pleasant, and sometimes even warm. And here's a treat: Cottage rental rates are at their lowest.

Here's one better. Bluewater Vacation Rentals is repeating its offer of one night free when you rent a cottage or condo for three nights. The deal is good from December 15 to January 6. You must pick from a selection of rental properties and then call 866-976-3512 to make the  reservation. And you must mention the 4-for-3 promotion.

Actually, there are a growing number of families that have started a tradition of spending Christmas or New Year's at ocean's edge. Some of the rental companies even offer Christmas season vacation packages that include a Christmas tree delivered to your cottage door! Be careful, though, since rates can be higher during the holiday weeks than the rest of the winter season.

We're old-fashioned enough that Dec. 25th has to be at home. But we've spent more than a few January 1sts in the salty air.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Biltmore at Christmas

Biltmore House was dazzling, filled with light against the inky blackness that actually had settled late on that December afternoon. A light snow had begun falling a few hours earlier.

Our little family was bundled up head to foot against the bitter mountain cold. Is Biltmore at Christmas worth the drive and the (steep) entrance fee? I have to say yes.

Certainly it's a grand family experience, especially if your children are older (ours was in college at the time). There's much to see and talk about during the tour and later in the hotel room or over dessert that evening. And years later.

But anyone within a few hundred miles from Asheville ought to make the trip, and do it during the holidays. Biltmore is a magnificent, unique palace, one that ought to be experienced if possible. Just a few of these mansions -- built by the nation's royalty of the time -- survive and are open to the public.

Biltmore is massive, on par with a medieval European castle. Its great rooms deserve the name. It had the most modern accommodations and gadgets. George Vanderbilt plunked his estate on the top of a mountain, for heavens sakes, with stupendous views of the surrounding Blue Ridge mountains.

Admission is as high as those mountains. During the holidays, adults pay $69 or $79 for the self-guided tour of the mansion. Children 10 to 16 cost half those prices. But save the money one year and take the family. There are tours of the estate's gardens and there's a winery. There are more food places on the estate grounds these days, which is convenient if you have younger children. There are nice coffee shops downtown Asheville for a change of pace. Asheville also has its share of non-Biltmore attractions.

It's a trip that will make a memory. In that way alone it's worth the money.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

New kite festival

Circumstances imposed, and we were disappointed not to be able to make this year's Atlantic Beach Kite Festival in late October. But we were free the first week in November, and after just a few minutes of searching the Internet, we discovered that Wrightsville Beach holds its own kite festival.

It was a wonderful jaunt. The temperatures were a bit cool on the Saturday and Sunday that we were there, but a strong sun and crystal blue skies kept it just warm enough for this former Philly guy (and his N.C.-native wife.)

The giant, colorful octopus kites (170 feet long, 75 feet across!) made appearances, as well as a 10-story scuba diver and what had to be a five-story sea horse. And of course any number of people brought their own kites.

There's not the music, activities and stunt fliers that we're used to at Atlantic Beach, but any kite in the sky is a joy for "kite people" like my wife ... and increasingly me. It's worth the trip, and a long weekend next year.

By the way, next year's Atlantic Beach Kite Fest is Oct. 26 and 27. If you're a kite person, or have youngsters, you'll love it.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Go fly a kite!

Talk about neighborly! The N.C. Depatment of Cultural Resources notes that March's stiff winds is a great time to fly a kite, and it has some safe places to enjoy the hobby (or an afternoon's diversion).

So it has designated Saturday, March 17 from 1 to 4 p.m. as "Let's Go Fly A Kite Day" at six state historic sites and two state museums.

With no electrical lines and lots of wide open spaces, the venues will open the grounds to all kite flyers.

The locations are:

Alamance Battleground, 5308 S. NC 62, Burlington, (336) 227-4785.

Governor Charles B. Aycock Birthplace, 264 Governor Aycock Road, Fremont, (919) 242-5581.

Bennett Place, 4409 Bennett Memorial Road, Durham, (919) 383-4345.

Duke Homestead, 2828 Duke Homestead Road, Durham, (919) 477-5498.

Horne Creek Historical Farm, 308 Horne Creek Farm Road, Pinnacle, (336) 325-2298.

Museum of the Cape Fear, 810 Arsenal Avenue, Fayetteville, (910) 486-1330.

N.C. Museum of Art, 2110 Blue Ridge Road, Raleigh, (919) 839-6262.

Town Creek Indian Mound, 509 Town Creek Mound Road, Mt. Gilead, (910) 439-6802.

What more can you ask for? Pack a lunch. It's cheap. Take the kids or the grandkids. Explore the site when you're finished with your skyward delights.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Deal alert!

You wouldn't call it March Madness or anything, but Emerald Isle Realty is offering a vacation deal through the month of March: 3 days for the price of 2 or 4 days for the price of 3.

If nothing else, it's a good kite-flying month. You can watch basketball March Madness in between long walks on the beach! And with the weather so warm during these first few months of 2012, chances are good that it'll be pleasant next month.

Go here for details of the deal.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

In honor of President's Day

We took the grandsons on an exploration of the places where George Washington grew up, and from that trip last year, I wrote a piece for The Charlotte Observer.

Here's the link. It's not North Carolina travel, but it's a trip close enough that North Carolinians can easily make. The trip offers children (and adults) information that they ought to know about our nation's founding.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The state of state tourism

Set free the North Carolina Zoo? Shutter the Museum of the Albemarle? Cut adrift aquariums in three North Carolina coastal cities?

Newspapers are reporting that a state legislative oversight committee is considering those and other major changes to state-owned cultural -- and tourism -- sites. The goal is to cut state spending in the coming years...to save money.

Here's my two cents. Regardless of your political persuasion, if you think it's an important issue, make sure you write your legislators.

I don't fault state leaders for wanting to save money wherever they can. Times are tight, here and everywhere. I'd be worried if they weren't looking for savings.

But tourism isn't the places to cut.

The state only has one premier zoo, and privatizing it, as the committee suggests, could put it in jeopardy. It also puts Asheboro at the mercy of a private company.

Same with the aquariums, which are gems of state tourism. They are packed most summer months, and do robust business in the spring and fall seasons. Parents who rent cottages for a week count on a day at the aquariums for their youngsters.

The study on which the report is based, written by a state agency, also recommends closing some sites during slow periods. That's fine, if there's solid proof that staying open is a sure-fire money-loser.

But not the big, drastic changes. North Carolina is a tourism state. Residents are proud of our place. Out-of-staters flock here, spend money, provide tax revenue and support thousands of jobs. Besides, all of the changes would save just $2 million a year. That is, as they say, a rounding error in a $19 billion budget.

One other thing: whatever changes are made, they ought to be temporary. One day, this recession will end. North Carolina needs to be ready to throw back open the doors when that happens.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Traveling on your stomachs

In these tight economic times -- or anytime if you have three or four children -- travelers are always on the hunt for ways to save money. Food and fuel are often major expenses, and there’s not much to do about filling up.

This MSNBC article, however, has some good tips for saving on victuals. The writer focuses on longer travel destinations, but the ideas are easily transferrable to the overnight, long weekend or even long vacation.

From navigating grocery stores to street vendors.

Bon app├ętit!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Kids, adults, go wild for wildlife

Here's something to look forward to, for you and the youngsters.

The 4th Annual Cape Fear Wildlife Expo is next month (March 16-18) in Wilmington. It's a family event whose mission is to encourage youth to enjoy the outdoors through hunting, fishing and other sports; to heighten public awareness of our natural resources; and to encourage conservation.

Here's what you'll enjoy: wildlife art and decoy displays; book signings by regional writers; hunting and fishing products; fly-fishing and decoy-carving demonstrations; conservation exhibits; outdoor sports guides and outfitters; and boats, truck and ATV displays.

Kids interactive activities include Sensory Safari, Aquatic Trailer, Mallard Madness Laser Shoot and Muzzy 200 Club Monster Buck display

There is an admission charge: adults $10.00, 65 and over $7.00, children 10 years and under free.

More facts: venue is the Wilmington Convention Center. Call 910-795-0292 or visit www.capefearwildlifeexpo.com.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Road trip weather

The weather is just too nice to pass up traveling this weekend.

We drove to Wilmington a few days ago for a day trip. Spent an hour

downtown in a wonderful coffee shop before heading to Wrightsville Beach. We packed sandwiches for lunch, and with just the beach chairs and our trusty beach blanket, we had a warm afternoon of waves, smiles and relaxation.

Of course you don’t have to head east. Except for that rockslide on the Tennessee side of I-40, there is nothing to keep you from a day or an overnight in Western North Carolina. Little or no snow to worry about. If it’s skiing you’re looking for, I understand that operators are keeping their snow machines humming. Or just stare at the majesty of the mountains and be inspired.

There's pottery being thrown in the Sandhills. Old towns to explore in the Inner Banks.

Or just head to a museum you’ve been wanting to visit. Or a state historic site.

That’s one of the good things about living in North Carolina. It could be the dead of winter and still be pleasant enough for a road trip.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Slow down and travel

Boiling rage. No, frantic gotta-get-there-ism. Or maybe it’s just plain impatience.

For us guys, we often find ourselves in one of those emotional states when traveling with the family. Maybe it happens to single guys, too, but I usually see it in us husbands/fathers. It’s always ugly. It’s oppressive to the other humans in the cars -- our spouses/kids.

I’m guilty. I’m partially cured. And I’m here to urge you to resist the urge.

You know the drill. There’s a nice vacation planned. Or maybe you’re visiting your family, or hers. It’s not intentional, but far in the back of your skull, a compulsion sprouts. You need to get where you’re going. Soon. As soon as possible. No stops…or as few as feasible.

Kids need a potty break? “I SIMPLY DON’T WANT TO HEAR IT! Do they HAVE to go? Can’t they hold it until we stop for lunch?”

Wife’s pregnant belly smashing the blue blazes out of her bladder? “YOU’RE AN ADULT!”, you scream. “Can’t YOU hold it?”

The disease usually includes the need to drive at least 10 or 15 miles an hour over the posted limit.

Great way to add to the interstate tension, eh?

I’ve tried to diagnose the madness, and here’s all I’ve come up with: In some respects, men feel responsible for getting the family to the destination safely. The quicker we go, with the least number of stops, accomplishes that goal in the quickest way possible. The stress ends at the destination. It’s over --at least until the return trip, when the fever starts rising all over again.

Admittedly, that may be putting the most benign face on a terrible malignancy. But like I said, it’s what I’ve come up with so far.

The good news is that I’ve found a painless cure, at least for myself.

It’s age.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve gained the great benefit of hindsight. It has shown me clearly how my teeth-gritting impatience harmed my family and sucked much of the pleasure of travel out of my family’s experiences. I remember well a return trip to North Carolina from my native Philadelphia, when an inevitable traffic jam caught us in Virginia. I escaped I-95 by driving, in reverse, up an on-ramp. In my impatience, it didn’t dawn on me that I had no idea what route would take me beyond the slowdown and eventually back to the interstate.

The result is that we got lost in Fort Lee. That was just making the trip longer – and besides that, I was feeling very guilty for having acted so impetuously. Instead of an apology, I tried to blame the situation on my incredulous wife.

I’m ashamed of that incident, burned in our family’s memory, to this day.

That and other bad traveling decisions have taught me to slow down. Traveling can be fun and a terrific bonding opportunity for your family. We don’t have to get there with all due speed. In fact, we’re more likely to get everyone there safe and sound if we take a few breaks --if we eat lunch slowly; if we laugh and joke with each other; if we risk an hour’s side trip when an interesting historic site presents itself on one of those big brown highway signs.

If, in other words, we make a trip out of our travel. We’re in it to make a memory…a good one.

There are times when we do just have to get there…in the case of a relative’s illness, for instance.

Otherwise, here’s what I’ve started doing. We leave at a sensible hour, not at 5 a.m. to beat the traffic even though everyone in the car is miserably sleepy. We stop whenever anyone needs to – which now includes two delightful little grandsons and their Dad, besides our original little nuclear family. We do stop at quilt shops and Wal-Marts and scenic overlooks. Life goes on if we arrive 30 minutes later than planned.

The disease still reasserts itself now and then. But I’m better at resisting it.

You try it. The advantage: fewer regrets – and many warm memories – when you get my age.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Travel for a train-lover's tour

Kids love trains. Lots of adults love trains. That's why the N.C. Transportation Museum in Spencer, near Charlotte, is so popular. It's chuck full of trains, mostly (with a good sprinkling of displays and artifacts of other modes of travel from North Carolina's past.)

Before becoming a state museum, the complex at Spencer was a main working yard for a major railroad company.

One big attraction is the enormous Back Shop. For the first time in 25 years of operation, the Museum will offer a "Behind the Scenes" tour. You can stroll through the Back Shop, view the Roundhouse Restoration bays, and enjoy a tour through the private rail car of James Duke.

Spencer operators say the tour opens "new areas of the historic Spencer Shops, while providing a unique view of museum artifacts and restoration projects.

Here's more:

"A stroll through the awe-inspiring Back Shop starts the 'Behind the Scenes' tour. Visitors can marvel at how such a massive structure, three stories high and the equivalent of two football fields in length, was built in the waning years of the 1800s.

Visitors will also get an up close look at the DC-3 Potomac Pacemaker, undergoing cosmetic restoration in the Back Shop. The WWII era airplane was used for passenger travel by Piedmont Airlines and still bears the company's logo. The Potomac Pacemaker is an important piece of the history of the Winston-Salem based airline, which became a part of US Air in 1989."

Cost is $15, which includes museum admission and the tour but not a train ride. The 90-minute tours are available at 1 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays and are by reservation only, at least three days in advance.

Here's how: Call 704-636-2889 ext. 258; or e-mail kathryn.l.johnson@ncdcr.gov.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

N.C.: Winter wonderful travel land

It’s mid-January, and you can drive on more than 90 percent of the roads in North Carolina with nary a worry of slipping in snow or slush or on ice.

A trip to the North Carolina beach this weekend will welcome you with afternoon temperatures in the mid- to high 60s. Even Nags Head on the northern coast will reach the mid-50s. You won’t want to dive into the surf, but depending on your hardiness you could take a long walk on the beach wearing shorts and a sweatshirt.

Sure, that’s not typical for the state. But it’s not completely uncommon, either. My family has spent many a winter day at the coast. A few years ago, we spent an overnight 70 miles in the other direction, in Greensboro, visiting the Bog Garden and taking in an evening concert.

Of course, winter is prime travel time in far western North Carolina, where skiing and winter festivals abound in the communities tucked in the Blue Ridge and Smoky mountains.

In fact, winter is a fine time to travel, particularly if you are one of those people who slid into the doldrums during those months when the sun hugs the horizon. I think about museums that I’d like to visit in a nearby town. A one-day or long weekend visit is feasible from a pocketbook perspective -- you may be able to get a great rate at hotels that need to fill as many rooms at possible during a slow time of year. Yet it’s plenty of time to rest the soul or perhaps reconnect with your spouse. Take the family on a day-trip to the North Carolina Zoo. Most state historic sites are open, and you aren’t likely to have to elbow through crowds.
Indeed, we are fortunate to have plenty of places to visit, and enough good weather in the cold months to enjoy those places.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Gotta Go: Bath, N.C.'s oldest city

A traveling preacher in the colonial era is said to have cursed Bath, North Carolina’s first incorporated town, to perpetually remain a small

town. So it has. For visitors to this historic place, turns out it is more blessing than curse.

Like its big-city cousins of Savannah, Ga., or Charleston, S.C., Bath is built on a bay, in this case the confluence of Bath and Bay creeks. That
made the historic village important to the young North Carolina colony and convenient for pirates. One of this nation’s most notorious
buccaneers, Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard, was a frequent visitor and by legend wed a young woman from the area not long before he was killed at Ocracoke Inlet in 1718.
There are several historic buildings to tour; details in a moment. But first, Bath is a pleasant place to spend some time. Whether as a destination or as a side trip on the drive to the Outer Banks, a stroll through town offers massive lazy trees, aged clapboard architecture, and just enough history to satisfy a curious mind.

And of course there is glistening Bath Creek, the wide bay that serves as the town’s southern border. Bonner’s Point, a city park, looks out over the bay. Dotted with picnic tables, it offers the perfect spot for lunch or a breezy afternoon nap.

English explorer John Lawson founded Bath in 1701, and it was incorporated in 1705 as the state’s first town. North Carolina’s first library was established in the town in 1701 as well, the gift of a British minister.
The state maintains the historic area’s Visitor Center, which offers a short film on Bath’s history. Guided tours of some of the history buildings in town begin in the Center.

Among the historic homes are the Palmer-Marsh House, built in 1751, and
the Bonner House, built in 1830, whose front porch offers a stunning view of the bay. Drop by nearby Van Der Veer House (built around 1790) for a self-guided exhibit on the history of Bath. There’s also St. Thomas Church, built around 1734 and still an active parish. It is open to visitors.

The Historic Bath Visitor Center, at 207 Carteret St., is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., except on state-recognized holidays. A ticket to tour the Bonner and Palmer-Marsh houses is affordable: $2 for adults, $1 for children. Call 252-923-3971 for more information.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Trip to Durham’s Civil War history

If you’re up for a trip to Durham next month, there are two intriguing programs focused on enslaved people. They are offered as part of North Carolina’s commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

On Feb. 12 at Historic Stagville, "To Free A Family" will include a free lecture and book signing by Dr. Sydney Nathans, Duke University history professor emeritus. Stagville comprises the remnants of one of the largest plantations of the pre-Civil War South. The owners, the Bennehan-Cameron family, had combined holdings totaling almost 30,000 acres of land and about 900 slaves by 1860. Stagville offers a view of the past, especially that of its African-American community, by allowing visitors to guide themselves around its extensive grounds.

On Feb. 16 at Bennett Place, Reginald Hildebrand, UNC-Chapel Hill
historian, will lecture on "The First Year of Freedom in North Carolina: Pursuing Freedom with the Hoe and the Sword, the Book and the Lord." There is an admission charge.

Bennett Place is the site of the largest troop surrender of the Civil War. A simple farmhouse, Bennett Place was situated between Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston's headquarters in Greensboro, and Union Gen. William T. Sherman's headquarters in Raleigh. In April 1865, the two commanders met at the Bennett family’s home, where they signed surrender papers for Southern armies in the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida.