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Historical Things to Do in Kinston NC

Historical Things to Do in Kinston NC

Kinston, NC was founded in 1762. It was originally called Kingston after King George III.

During the Revolutionary War, Kingston served as the state capital. After the war, the town was renamed Kinston.

Kinstonians love their music. During the 1960s, people from Kinston bought more records than any other town in the country.

And five members of James Brown’s band were from Kinston.

During the 1970s, Kinston was known as the Magic Mile. Carolinians came from all over the state for the shopping and fine dining.

Looking to recapture that bygone era, Kinston is going through a revitalization. Now is the perfect time to discover the many historical things to do in Kinston NC.

Walk the Mitchelltown Historic District

Just northwest of downtown Kinston you’ll find the Michelltown Historic District. This 11-block district features brightly painted Victorian cottages and historic mansions. The main architectural styles are Colonial Revival, American Craftsman, and Classic Revival.

The area is mainly residential, with homes built between 1885 and 1941.

Explore Harmony Hall

One of the oldest buildings in Kinston, Harmony Hall, was built in 1772. The house served as the state capital during the Revolutionary War.

This Greek Revival home was a hospital for wounded soldiers during the Civil War.

The house is open to the public Wednesday through Saturday. But be careful, it’s supposedly haunted. You can also tour an early 20th-century schoolhouse located on the property.

Location: 109 E King St, Kinston NC

The CSS Neuse II

The CSS Neuse was a Confederate ironclad that served during the Civil War. The crew scuttled her in 1865 to avoid capture by Union forces. It rested at the bottom of the Neuse River for more than 100 years. Now you can see the portions of the original wreckage at the C.S.S. Neuse Civil War Interpretive Center. The center also houses 15,000 artifacts from the wreck.

The CSS Neuse II is a full-sized replica of this historic warship. It measures 158 feet by 34 feet. Discover it at the Kinston Shipyard, a block from the Neuse River.

For you history buffs, CSS stands for Confederate State Ship.

Location: 118 N Heritage St, Kinston NC

The Governor Caswell Memorial

Governor Richard Caswell was the first governor of North Carolina. He was instrumental in establishing North Carolina as part of the United States.

This Caswell Memorial houses artifacts from the Revolutionary War. Exhibits cover the life of this influential man. A bronze plaque was erected in front of his grave in 1919.

Location: 2612 W. Vernon Ave Kinston, NC

Exploring Kinston Battlefield Park

The first battle for Kinston in 1862 brought home the horrors of war to residents. Now the Kinston Battlefield is a must-see on any list of historical things to do in Kinston NC. The battlefield includes five historical sites.

  • The Information and Visitors Center includes artifacts found on the battlefield. It is at the intersection of Hwy 70 and Hwy 258. You can also view a video describing the battle.
  • The Woodington site is on Hwy 258 in Woodington. This beautifully landscaped memorial includes markers detailing the events of the battle.
  • The Rivermont site is at the edge of Kinston on Hwy 258 South.
  • Harriet’s Chapel Site is also on Hwy 258 in Kinston. This two-acre walking site is in the middle of the battlefield. Nothing remains of this small church destroyed during the fighting.
  • The Memorial Site is off Hwy 70 East at the Meadowbrook and Harriet Lanes intersection. It features a plaza and elevated berms. It marks where Union forces broke through the Confederate lines.

Sugar Hill: Kinston’s Red Light District

Sugar Hill was once one of the most notorious red-light districts between New Orleans and New York City. Everybody knew about it, but nobody admitted to visiting.

But Sugar Hill was more than just a place for hanky panky. It was a musical hot spot on the East Coast. Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, and Nat Jones all played here at one time. Kinston Music Park celebrates the contributions of these African American musicians.

Explore the Kinston Commercial Historic District

Stroll this historic district featuring 30 buildings built between 1896 and 1941. It features beautiful examples of the Art Deco and Romanesque styles.

Some notable buildings in the district:

  • Carolina Theater 1935
  • Cash Supply Store Building 1914
  • Spence Motor Company Building and Ellis Carriage Factory 1908-1914

Catch a Game at Grainger Stadium

Minor league baseball has been a part of Kinston's history for more than 100 years. Professional teams have played here since 1908. Built in 1949, Historic Grainger Stadium is the 2nd oldest stadium in the Carolina League.

It has been home to the Down East Wood Ducks since 2017. Be sure to catch a game when visiting between April and September.

Location: 400 E Grainger Ave, Kinston NC

The Nuclear Mishap Historical Marker

About ½ hour from Kinston near Eureka, you’ll find the Nuclear Mishap Historical Marker. In 1961, a B-52 bomber loaded with two nuclear warheads crashed near here.

The plane broke up at 8000 feet and released both bombs. Seven of the eight firing switches actually activated. Only the crew-controlled switch prevented the bomb from going off. The crew died in the crash but avoided triggering a nuclear explosion.

Location: 102 E Main St, Eureka NC

Though not as well known as other North Carolina cities, Kinston is worth the visit.

From the Revolutionary War to the Cold War. Red light districts to historic districts. Kinston's history is rich and varied.

You’ll find lots to discover as you explore all the historical things to do in Kinston NC.

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This place is for Publicity

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