7 Year Tea Party Winners: Susan Craft's winner of her trilogy novels - The Chamomile, Laurel, and Cassia is: Lucy Reynolds, The winner of a copy of The Backcountry Brides is: Tammy Cordery, the winner of a silver quill charm is: Kathy Maher, Choice of one of three books by Carrie Fancett Pagels in paperback: Joy Ellis, A Bouquet of Brides Collection by Pegg Thomas winner is: Becky Smith, Janet Grunst's Selah-Award winning novel, A Heart Set Free, is: Sherry Moe.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Tryon Palace and the Women Who Wouldn't Say No.

Appointed by the King, Lt. Governor Wiliam Tryon came to North Carolina in 1764 and traveled the colony for almost a year until he became Governor. New Bern was a busy, sheltered port town and the center of the area’s naval supply business. If you’ve ever wondered why North Carolina is the Tar Heel state, this is why---the abundant pine forests supplied tar and turpentine which are fundamental for shipbuilding and upkeep. When, in 1766, the North Carolina colony Tryon chose New Bern as its capital, Tryon decided it needed a governor’s mansion worthy of the king himself. A year later, master builder John Hawks came from England to begin the building of an impressive red brick and white marbled trimmed home that would serve as political meeting place and family home.

Small farmers in the west, and the heavily Scottish population, weren’t keen on the taxes taken to build a grand English home. Fifteen thousand pounds at the time! (about fifteen million now). Many just weren’t happy to have English rule, and things culminated in The Regulators’ War in 1771.
By this time, Tryon had left to become Governor in New York, and Josiah Martin took residence. With revolution the talk of the colonies, Governor Martin asked for arms to equip his loyalist citizens. The arrival of cannon rankled the revolutionaries and Martin had to slip out of town under the cover of night.

During the war, North Carolina moved its capital to Raleigh and Tryon Palace fell to ruin in later decades. Parts of it were used by the locals, occasionally for dances, or as a hospital, but in 1798 a good portion of the building burned leaving only the stable intact. Torn down and forgotten, the grounds of the palace eventually became U.S. Rt 70.

Then the Colonial Dames stepped in. If you didn't know, The Colonial Dames is a national society with thousands of members. But I'm referring to some mighty fierce ladies on a mission.
Mrs. Reynolds of Winston-Salem, a president of the DAR began a fund for restoration. In 1935, the federal government created protection for such sites by declaring them National Historic Sites.

Another go-getter, journalist Gertrude Carraway, also in the DAR and a New Bern native fought to have Tryon Palace named a National Historic Site. The National Park Service agreed but offered no funding for the restoration. The Garden Club of North Carolina joined in with a heavy state-wide lobby to restore the palace and its gardens.

And another… Mrs. Maude Latham was a major financial supporter. Together with Mrs. Carraway and a Mr. and Mrs. Kellenberger, the Tryon Palace Commission was born. Mrs. Carraway hunted down the original plans of the palace used by the architect John Hawks. Mrs. Latham created a trust fund with $100,000 of her money.

Just as things were about to start, Pearl Harbor brought the country in to war. Mrs. Latham didn’t give up. She added another 150,000 to the pot and then bequeathed her entire estate worth one million dollars.  In 1952, almost twenty years after the project began, work began.  The comission stayed busy as well, purchasing back lots that were originally part of the property, and the Kellenbergers and Mrs. Carraway hunted down every piece of Tryon’s or Martin’s furniture they could find (Martin had made a detailed inventory of every piece of furniture and other belongings!). Rather than use reproductions, they traveled the country and Europe to purchase pieces matching the inventory—an estimated 3 million of them purchased entirely by private funding of nearly seventy thousand dollars.

Tryon Park was rebuilt as an exact reproduction of the original building and its grounds are fully restored. On the day in 1958, when it reopened, the Tryon Palace committee turned it over to the state of North Carolina. Mrs. Carraway personally trained all the staff. By then, she knew more about each piece of furniture, each brick and each person to live in or visit the mansion than anyone else. In 1962, she was declared her The North Carolinian of the Year — describing her as “a woman who refused to compromise with anything short of perfection.” Today the North Carolina History Museum is built next door, and Tryon Palace received 249,000 visitors in 2015. Volunteers are the bulk of the staff—a whopping 800 people who spend time caring for the collections, doing tours, and hosting events.

I recently visited this incredible place and was as much in awe of these women as of the palace and gardens. And New Bern is a lovely, small city. Have you visited? If not, I hope you get a chance to!


Mrs. Gertrude Carraway

Debra E. Marvin tries not to run too far from real life but the imagination born out of being an only child has a powerful draw. Besides, the voices in her head tend to agree with all the sensible things she says. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Sisters in Crime, and serves on the board of Bridges Ministry in Seneca Falls, NY. In 2015, she released her first two novellas, “Alarmingly Charming” in Austen in Austen Vol 1 from WhiteFire Publishing, and “Desert Duet” from Forget Me Not Romances, after many unpublished contest successes including two finals for the Daphne DuMaurier award. Debra works as a program assistant at Cornell University, and enjoys her family and grandchildren, obsessively buying fabric, watching British programming and traveling with her childhood friends.
Coming soon - Starlight Serenade set in 1930, Flagstaff Arizona


  1. It's an amazing history of preserving history!

  2. Wow! These women certainly did not give up despite the obstacles. Thanks for sharing Carrie.

  3. I am enjoying learning about this history and also, remembering things that I learned as a child in elementary school. :-)

    1. It's such a beautiful building, and though it had a short history as the official seat of government, it's the perfect way to highlight the pre-colonial era. My friends and I were quite impressed with the NC history museum, too!

  4. Thanks so much for this well-written article! Although I've heard of Tryon Palace, I never knew anything about it until reading this.

    1. Please keep it in mind if you have a chance to visit. I learned so much about the history of the area. We found New Bern to be a real taste of low country charm as well!

  5. What amazing drive and tenacity! Interesting post.

    1. Thanks, Kay. I'm glad you enjoyed it. These women and their community were incredible.


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