Mordecai Historic Park (That’s pronounced More-di-KEY)


My in-laws were up for a visit this past weekend, so on Saturday we went to visit the Mordecai Historic Park in Raleigh, NC.

This is a fascinating little slice of plantation era history right in the middle of the state capital. The original house was built in 1785 (before Raleigh was even founded) and added on to for a couple generations until it became the size it is today.

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We took the tour and learned all about the family that lived there. The house was originally built by Joel Lane for his son Henry. One of Henry’s daughters married Moses Mordecai. His parents never recognized their marriage and never spoke to him again, so Moses changed the pronunciation of his last name from the More-di-KI pronunciation to More-di-KEY.

The family continued in the house for three more generations and more than doubled the size of the original house. The story is far more fascinating than that, but I’m not going to take the time to outline it all here. I recommend checking out the park yourself or at least looking up the family. Here are a few resources:

City of Raleigh

National Park Service

Wikipedia Article

Along with the original house is the Overseer’s Office and Seed Storage building, the Smokehouse, and a plantation kitchen from another plantation that was built in 1842.

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Along with the buildings original (or close to it) to the plantation are several other historical buildings brought to the park to preserve them.

The house where President Andrew Johnson was born on December 29, 1808, was moved from its original location behind Casso’s Inn on Fayetteville Street.

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The Badger-Iredell Law Office was moved to the park in 1975, but was built around 1810. The amazing trim color is original to the building and was a sign of wealth. So were the built in shelves, which were fully adjustable.

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St. Mark’s Chapel was built around 1847 in Gulf, NC. It was originally built for the Haughtons, their visitors and their slaves. Eventually the congregation died away and the church was decommissioned by the Episcopal Church. It was moved to the Mordecai Historic Park in 1978. It only holds about fifty people, but you can rent it for your wedding. We didn’t get to enter the building because there was a wedding that afternoon.

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There’s also an old office building. They think it was a government office because of the architecture (the columns are a dead give away right?) and the green color.

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The tour was great fun and we had an amazing tour guide. The family and grounds left me with all sorts of ideas for characters and stories.

Where do you find inspiration around you for your own stories?


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