The Windsor, North Carolina region is home to an exceptional array of scenic views, exotic landscapes, recreational centers, and cultural landmarks. It is known for the showcase of history as well as beauty and is famous for attracting tourists from far and near. Among the myriad structures, museums, lodges, and parks in Windsor, North Carolina, one of the historic sites that stands out the most is the Hope Plantation.
The Hope Plantation was the home of the former North Carolina governor David Stone. It was built in 1803 on the North Carolina plains near Windsor, North Carolina in Bertie County. The site offers an illustration of Eastern North Carolina agrarian life in the late eighteenth and nineteenth century, specifically from 1760 to 1840.
The centerpiece of the site is the Hope Mansion. It is built on an above-ground basement with timber, in a Palladian design. The facade has 5 bays and a pedimented double portico. The roof is topped by a widow’s walk and surrounded by a Chinese Chippendale balustrade. The mansion’s architecture is of Georgian style but it possesses some features typical of Federal architecture. It is therefore a fine example of the combination of Federal and Georgian architecture.
Also on the grounds of the site is the 1736 King-Bazemore house. It is a fine example of mid-eighteenth century architecture with a hall and parlor design.
The plantation was a self-sufficient complex. It had a kitchen, a sawmill, a blacksmith shop, a smokehouse, a dairy, stores, gardens, a water-powered mill, a barn built in 1800, a cooper’s shop, as well as spinning and weaving houses. The farmlands produced crops like wheat, corn, oats, rye, flax, and cotton, while livestock such as cattle, sheep, and horses were raised on the pasture. Timber was supplied by forests within the site’s extensive grounds.
Both the Hope Mansion and the King-Bazemore house are on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). The site is also one of the historic sites listed on the Historic Albemarle Tour, and it has a guidebook titled: The miracle of Hope Plantation.
In pre-colonial times, the site on which the plantation is located was hunting grounds to a clan of Native Americans related in terms of language to the Sioux. After colonization, in 1663, a Charter to the Carolinas was granted by King Charles II of England to eight Lords Proprietors in gratitude for their support. They began recruiting English settlers from England and Virginia.
In the 1720s, the Hobson family received 1,100 acres of land at the western section of the Albemarle Sound, near the Cashie River, from the Lords Proprietors of the Carolina Colony. In 1765, however, the property became Zedekiah Stone’s. The elder Stone gave the tract to his son, David Stone, in 1793. The younger Stone built the Hope Mansion, following a plan adapted from Abraham Swann’s book: The British Architect.
The Hope Mansion is the main attraction on the grounds of the site. It made the list of the National Register of Historical Places in 1970. It is built in Georgian style but has a few modifications typical of the Federal method of architecture that was common at the time. Examples of these features include:
- Large window panes.
- Federal mantels .
- An arch that bisects the central hallway.
- A column with delicate design.
At the front of the house are impressive stairs that lead to the pedimented double portico on the facade. There are intricate Chinese Chippendale balustrades on both portico stories and on the widow’s walk. There are two chimneys and four windows on each side of the mansion, as well as a single portico in the rear. The house has an above-ground basement storey as it is constructed on high brick piers.
The house’s interior is as impressive as its exterior. From the double front doors, the central hallway stretches all the way to the back. It is a magnificent double hall with an archway dividing the ends. Also on this floor are the bedrooms, sitting room and dining room. There is a partially enclosed stairway with a large landing which may have served as an upper parlor. This leads to the upper floor which holds a large drawing room, some small bedrooms, and the library (which once held a collection of about 1400 volumes). There are also service stairs that run from the basement to the attic.
A complete inventory of the mansion was made when Governor Stone died, and this had made it possible, today, for the house to be furnished with an extensive and accurate collection of original antique pieces as well as Stone family possessions.
1763 King-Bazemore House
The 1763 King-Bazemore house was moved four miles from its original site near Windsor, North Carolina, to Hope. It is the second house on the property open for tours. It is one of the two gambrel-roofed houses with brick-end walls in North Carolina. It has Flemish-bond brick sides, T-shaped chimneys and arches over fireplaces and windows.
It has been restored and furnished based on the inventory the owner, William King, made in 1778.
Roanoke-Chowan Heritage Center
This Heritage Center was added to the site in 1992. The building serves as a visitor’s center. It includes, among others:
- A two-and-a-half-story lobby.
- A museum.
- A dining/meeting room.
- A commercial kitchen.
- A library.
- A bookstore.
- Interpretive exhibits.
The permanent exhibit ‘Plantation at Crossroads’ depicts the interaction of Native Americans, African Americans, and European settlers.
Also available on the site are:
- Outbuildings such as the restored kitchen, smokehouse, the Hope mansion’s original diary, etc.
- Recreational trails
- Picnic facilities
- On-site banquet facilities for meetings, reunions, weddings, etc.
- 45 acres of land
Hope Plantation Today
The house was sold in 1836 by David Stone’s son. It passed through many owners and suffered a period of abandonment that lasted many decades. In 1965, Bertie County citizens that were concerned about the Hope Mansion formed the Historic Hope Foundation Inc.
The Foundation is a non-profit organization whose mission is to preserve and educate people about the history of the Hope Plantation. It was able to purchase the house together with its surrounding land and begin its restoration, through a collection of government funding, grants, as well as private donations. It took seven years for the restoration to be complete. After that, the site was opened to the public.
The site is opened daily for guided tours. As listed in the guidebook: The miracle of Hope Plantation, there are nine marked nature trails and picnic spots in the Hope Forest.
Seeking Other Places of Interest in Eastern North Carolina?
Be sure to review our complete list of historical sites and other attractions across Eastern North Carolina in our main article here: The Historic Albemarle Trail.