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Tour Old Wilmington invites you to join us for a History Walking Tour. Discover hidden history and a lost time as we travel to Wilmington during the Victorian Era (1837- 1901) Learn about Wilmington’s rich and colorful history as we reveal what life was like in Wilmington during the Civil War, customs and traditions of the day, sea tales, folklore and more..! Walking tours start at the foot of Market and Water Streets.
The Kenan Fountain
Market Street & Fifth Avenue
An architectural gem, the Kenan Memorial Fountain was erected in 1921 in the middle of the large intersection of Fifth Avenue and Market Street. Wilmington native, William Rand Kenan, Jr., gave the fountain to the city to memorialize his parents, William Rand and Mary Hargrave Kenan. Carrere and Hastings of New York, a respected architectural firm that designed the New York Public Library, drew the plans for the fountain. It was made out of Indiana limestone and cost $43,000. The fountain was sculpted in New York, then dismantled and shipped to Wilmington where it was rebuilt.
When Mr. Kenan gave the fountain to the city most residents still walked or took a streetcar. However, some pessimistic citizens predicted that it would become a traffic hazard. Their forecast came true as the city grew and automobiles became a preferred mode of transportation.
Source: A Pictorial History of Wilmington by Anne Russell
To purchase the book please visit the Two Sisters Bookery @ the Cotton Exchange in Wilmington NC
Rose O'Neal Greenhow
Maria Rosetta O’Neale
Sep. 30, 1864
The "Rebel Rose" of the Civil War. "I employed every capacity with which God has endowed me, and the result was far more successful than my hopes could have flattered me to expect." Rose O'Neal Greenhow. She was born Maria Rosetta O’Neale in
The Greenhows had four daughters:
Confederate President Jefferson Davis credited Greenhow's information with securing victory at
This was the kind of information she delivered. She was arrested as a spy by Allan Pinkerton on August 23, 1861. Mrs. Greenhow was kept a prisoner in her home, which had been labeled "a clearing house for spies." Her home was officially made her prison by government decree on August 30, 1861. When guards discovered a Confederate plot to free Greenhow, the government acted, ordering her and her daughter, "Little Rose" transferred to the Old Capitol Prison on January 18, 1862. For five months, she and her daughter remained at the Old Capitol Prison, however, even her imprisonment did not deter her from continuing to provide information to Southern loyalists. This prompted Federal authorities to banish her south.
On June 2, the New York Times recorded her release and removal under close custody. On June 6, 1862, she and her daughter arrived in
In the afternoon of Saturday, October 1, 1864, her body was carried in a long funeral procession through the streets of
Note: A great white stone was later placed above her grave, purchased by the Ladies Memorial Association of
According to the Julian calendar, Wilmington, North Carolina, was incorporated in 1739. Located on the east bank of the Cape Fear River, the original town is 28 nautical miles from the Atlantic Ocean. Built on several rises, more like sand dunes than hills, the town ascends 50 feet from the river shoreline. Despite navigational difficulties along the river, the town grew to become the largest city in the state before the Civil War. It remained so until the second decade of the 20th century, when the state’s Piedmont tobacco and textile towns rose to prominence.
Wilmington’s historical significance is reflected in the variety of architectural styles, streetscapes and in other aspects of its material culture. The Colonial town is most visible in the original grid pattern of the streets, the numbered streets running from north to south and the named streets running from east to west. Several periods of rapid growth have altered the city’s passage through time. Very few buildings remain from the early town because of the large fires and antebellum growth stimulated by the 1840 opening of the railroad.
Three other periods of sustained growth are also noteworthy. Recovery from the Civil War with increased port and rail expansion precipitated substantial commercial activity in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Increased business and industry, particularly of cotton and fertilizer, provide a building boom both commercially and residentially, including moves to the first suburbs. This economic activity spread across the region, evident most notably in the development of the nearby beaches. After a period of decline during the Great Depression, Wilmington experienced another burst of growth during World War II Military facilities and the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company brought an unprecedented number of new residents who needed housing as well as a myriad of businesses to support their daily lives. The most recent growth can in the 1990s, after Wilmington was connected to the rest of the country by Interstate Highway 40.
Source: Wilmington Lost But Not Forgotten by Beverly TetterronTo purchase the book please visit the Two Sisters Bookery @ the Cotton Exchange in Wilmington NC