HALIFAX, N.C. -- Celebrate 234 years of American independence from Great Britain on Monday, April 12, at the annual Halifax Day festivities held in Halifax. From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., visitors may join in a colorful remembrance at Historic Halifax State Historic Site of the April 12, 1776 vote by North Carolina’s Provincial Congress to separate from the British Crown.
The program will feature colonial-costumed interpreters, living history demonstrations, “hands-on” activities and demonstrations for young and old, and historic building tours. It is sponsored by the Historical Halifax Restoration Association, Inc. All activities are free and open to the public.
School group tours and demonstrations will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. All Halifax County fourth-graders have been invited. A new wayside exhibit funded by the Historical Halifax Restoration Association, Inc. will make its debut on Halifax Day. The exhibit will focus on Joseph Montfort and the archaeological site of his home. A formal program will be held at the Visitor Center at 2 p.m. The speaker will be Joshua Howard of the N.C. Office of Archives and History, discussing “Activities of Cornwallis during the Revolutionary War in N.C.” A reception will be held in the Visitors Center following the program.
Afternoon tours will be offered from 2-5 p.m. Visitors may also learn about the Halifax area’s history through a self-guided museum tour and a 13-minute audiovisual presentation in the Historic Halifax Visitor Center, open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The 1776 Halifax Resolves resolution was the first official move for independence made by any of the 13 original American colonies. Recognized on the North Carolina flag with the date, April 12, 1776, this revolutionary step is one of the most important events in the state’s history. Though the resolves document itself was signed by only the Fourth Provincial Congress Secretary James Green Jr., it was passed unanimously by the 83 delegates present.
The first 85 years of the town of Halifax’s life are recalled in the historic site’s preservation. The Owens House — with a gambrel roof and furnished as the home of a prosperous Halifax merchant — is the oldest building and dates from about 1760. The Eagle Tavern and the Tap Room are also taverns of the period.
The Roanoke River Valley’s prosperity during the 18th and 19th centuries is reflected in the many Federal-style plantation homes built here from the 1790s to the 1820s. A particularly elegant example is the 1808 Sally-Billy House. The two public buildings within the historic district — the 1832 Clerk’s Office and the 1838 Jail — were built by the same contractor. The 1808 Burgess Law Office is also interpreted.
Other site features reflect bygone days in Halifax: Magazine Spring, long a town water source; the cemetery; Market Square, which served as the town park, pasture, and marketplace; and the river outlook, near the site of an early ferry landing.
The site’s mission is to preserve and interpret the history of Halifax, where North Carolina first declared independence from Great Britain.
Historic Halifax is located in Halifax County, a little over five miles east of Interstate 95. Take exit 168 onto State Route 903 and follow brown historic site signs to the Historic Halifax Visitor Center. For more information call (252) 583-7191 or go to http://www.halifax.nchistoricsites.org. Historic Halifax is one of 27 sites in the Division of N.C. Historic Sites and Properties within the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, the state agency with the mission to enrich lives and communities and the vision to harness the state’s cultural resources to build North Carolina’s social, cultural and economic future. Information on Cultural Resources is available at www.ncculture.com.
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