Kurt's Historic Sites

Raleigh, North Carolina capitol

North Carolina

Admission to the Union Sequence in Admission Sequence in Capitols I Have Visited
November 21, 1789 12th admitted 24th visited

Photographed March 20, 2022.

In search of a permanent seat of government in the late 1780s, a committee of the North Carolinian government purchased 1,000 acres of land in Raleigh from plantation owner Joel Lane. The first structure that occupied the site was built from 1792 to 1796 and served as the state house until it was destroyed by a fire in 1831. The current capitol building was constructed on the same lot between 1833 and 1840.

The capitol’s design was largely influenced by the New York architecture firm of Ithiel Town and Alexander Jackson Davis. The supervising architect, David Paton, was hired in 1834. When the building was completed in 1840, it cost $532,682.34. According to the North Carolina Historic Sites website, this sum was three times more than the amount of revenue the state generated during that period.

Photographed March 20, 2022.
Photographed March 20, 2022.

Tennessee claims three U.S. presidents: Democrats Andrew JacksonJames K. Polk, and Andrew Johnson. The members of this trio were not Tennessean by birth though — all moved there from the Carolinas. Jackson came from the Waxhaw region that straddles North and South Carolina, while Polk came into the world in Pineville, and Johnson was born just two blocks from where the capitol now stands in Raleigh. This sculpture on its grounds is titled Presidents North Carolina Gave the Nation. It was created by Charles Keck and unveiled in 1948. It is important to note that Jackson, Polk, and Johnson were all enslavers and that the capitol behind their metal likenesses was built partially through the forced labor of enslaved people. Multiple monuments to Confederates who rebelled against the United States in order to keep slavery unimpeded were removed in June 2020.

Another sculpture on the grounds commemorates Charles Duncan McIver, a leading figure in North Carolina education movements in the late 1800s and early 1900s. He was among several groups and prominent advocates who convinced the state legislature to create an academy to educate women. McIver then served as inaugural president of the institution that was the fruit of those labors, the State Normal and Industrial School for Girls. The school subsequently became the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Photographed March 20, 2022.

Sources Consulted and Further Reading

“History: In Need of a Capital.” North Carolina Historic Sites. Accessed March 24, 2022. https://historicsites.nc.gov/all-sites/n-c-state-capitol/history.

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