Edenton is the seat of Chowan County on the North Carolina Coastal Plain. This little town of about 5,000 has a lot going on for it. For starters, it is claimed to be the first European settlement in the state of North Carolina.
A group of settlers drifted down from the Jamestown Colony in Virginia in 1658 and established Edenton Colony (which would become "the Towne of Queen Anne's Creek" before becoming a whole bunch of other things). In a similar vein, the town boasts the oldest house in the state.
After these first starts Edenton moved on to become the second capital of provincial North Carolina from 1722 to 1743, and saw a litany of historical figures in one form of another. For instance, Joseph Hewes, signer of the Declaration of Independence and first Secretary of the Navy, along with James Iredell, youngest Supreme Court Justice at age 38, and his son, James Iredell Jr, former US Senator and governor of North Carolina, were all born here. Plus, oddly enough, another US Justice and signatory named James Wilson died here while riding his horse.
What stands out most about Edenton probably though are two women figures. One of these was Penelope Barker, who is credited with organizing the Edenton Tea Party in 1774 and in so doing instigated the first political act by women in the British American colonies. The other distinguished figure was Harriet Jacobs, a young black slave girl who ran away from her abusive owner and spent 7 years in hiding in her grandmother's attic in the same town as related in her autobiography Life of a Slave Girl.
Way back in colonial times, Edenton was lauded for its easy sea access, being on the Albemarle Sound, but, today, most visitors are likely to arrive via road, specifically US Route 17, which basically connects it with Outer Banks communities and the mainland.
When you need a lift, you could try Greyhound, as it stops at the Red Apple gas station at 711 N Broad St.
The Lane House is believed to be the oldest house in North Carolina, with its structure dating to 1719. It's on East Queen Street but is a private residence and not really catering to tourists.
- 1 Penelope Barker House Welcome Center, 505 S Broad St, ☏ . W-M 10AM-5PM. Presentation on Penelope Barker and good views of the harbor.
- 2 The 1886 Roanoke River Lighthouse, 7 Dock St, ☏ . Tu-Sa 10AM-4PM. Believed to be the last existing example of a rectangular lighthouse with a screw-pile base (screwed directly into the bedrock of the bay, in other words).
- 3 Historic Edenton State Historic Site, 108 N Broad St, ☏ . You can arrange tours of the town here, and also find out about Harriot Jacobs, the young slave who hid for 7 years in the house of her grandmother, a freedwoman, before escaping to freedom.
- 4 James Iredell House, 107 E Church St, ☏ . Where the late US Supreme Court Justice lived
- 5 Cupola House, 408 S Broad St, ☏ . Tu-Sa 1-2PM, Su noon-3PM. Built by Francis Corbin in 1758.
- 6 Chowan County Courthouse, 117 East King Street, ☏ . The original structure, dating from 1767.
- 7 St Paul's Episcopal Church, 101 W Gale St, ☏ . Dates to 1736 with some historical dignitaries laid to rest in the cemetery.