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History and Art in Halifax County

Dave and Diane

The Railroad of Freedom

The Underground Railroad was neither a train nor was it underground. However, it was one of the most important travel routes for in American history. As most realize, prior to 1865, slavery was legal in many US states and territories. The Underground Railroad was a series of stops and safe havens, which could get freedom seekers one step closer to freedom. In November, Halifax County holds the Walking in the Footsteps of Freedom event. Hike along the Roanoke Canal, a known passage of runaway slaves. Visitors can hear historians recount the trials and tribulations of slaves on their near hopeless journey to freedom in the North. Also learn about life for the hopeless and lost runaways by reading authentic newspaper ads describing plantation escapees. During the early 19th Century, Halifax had the largest number of free blacks in the South. Also Quakers, people sympathetic to slaves, had settled nearby. Slave could blend in and count on help from white and black folk alike. An absolutely fascinating and vital part of our history, visit The Underground RR in Halifax.

The “regulars are coming!” This is in fact what Paul Revere shouted on his famous ride through streets of Boston on that cold spring night of April 19th 1775. The Battles of Lexington and Concord were fought that day sparking the American Revolution. A lesser known part of history happened right in Halifax, North Carolina. On April 12th, 1776, the Halifax Resolves declared independence from the English crown, forever changing North Carolina history. Muster Days is a MUST SEE while in Halifax! The amazing thing about Muster Days is that participants are completely transported through time. Witness British Lord Cornwallis’s army March through town, as he actually did in May, 1781. The local militia musters, facing him toe-to-toe, clearly outmatched by the fearsome Redcoats. Muskets “CRACK,” cannons “BOOM,” and the crowd goes wild! It’s more than a military parade however. Noted historians share stories with attendees. Living history re-enactors teach campfire craft, woodworking, games, and weaving and much more. This all transpires in a historic district with buildings dating from about 1760-1830. Muster days now includes over 20 events a year. Come BE a part of living history!

History Keeps

Following Me!

Historic Halifax: A Day Tour of History

Halifax plays an important part in the history of the United States. The Halifax Resolves, the first call for independence from England, was established and adopted in Halifax on April 12, 1776. This historic site has restored buildings, homes, and museums; public tours are available on a scheduled basis Tuesday through Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. There is a plantation house, a tavern, law office, church, and jail. The site also includes a picnic grounds and walking trails along the Roanoke River and past historical cemeteries. Special programs are held throughout the year to commemorate historical events. Some of the buildings are available to rent as a venue for a special function. Whether a resident or a visitor passing through, take time to visit Historic Halifax and learn about early colonial life and politics.

Historic Site Turns to Art: Enfield Performing Arts Center

Built in 1927 as the Masonic Temple, this site has transformed into the now Enfield Performing Arts Center (EPAC). Enfield history goes deeper, being the home of the Enfield Riot of 1759 which began out of extortion and taxation for which the citizens were not going to stand. Enfield was also the world’s largest raw peanut market. Today the Art Deco building has been repurposed to host the theater arts as a live venue for theater, music, dance, and film. The first Enfield Riot Film Festival was held in October 2017. EPAC has also partnered with the Halifax County School System as part of the STEAM Academy offering performing arts training to young students in the hopes to help them develop their skills and talents. STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, arts, and math; EPAC is helping fulfill the “A” for arts portion of this program. Always looking for volunteers and local talent, stop by and check out EPAC today and be part of a thriving community.

Art of Napoleon Hill

Halifax County is built upon a rich cultural history that stretches back to before the birth of our nation. Across the county, you can find the roots of this culture beautifully captured in the vibrant murals of local artist Napoleon Hill. “I’ve painted all my life. It’s what I love to do,” Hill says. Despite having no formal training, Napoleon Hill paints these murals with tremendous skill, passion, and soul, and brings the community and history of eastern North Carolina community to life. The painted scenes capture the cotton fields, farms, natural landscapes, revolutionary history, and the people that collectively make Halifax such a unique and special place. “It's about bringing small communities back to life,” says Hill. “And that's what it's all about.” We think you’ll agree that no trip to Halifax County, North Carolina is complete without experiencing the art of Napoleon Hill!

Life on the Plantation

It’s much more fun to learn about history in a museum than from a textbook, especially if the museum is where the history took place. The Tillery History House Museum is that kind of place, located on former plantation land where African-American slaves lived and labored. The property offers a rare look into plantation life in America after the Civil War and into the twentieth century. In the 1930s and 1940s, President Roosevelt instituted the New Deal Resettlement Program, which gave black families the opportunity to purchase land. The History House Museum stands on a piece of that land. Now, this Resettlement home offers a unique educational experience for visitors to come learn about the racial divides that split the country, and how that changed over the course of a century. The museum offers guided tours so that you can get an intimate look at the plantation and what life was like there for black families throughout the decades.

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