History

Travel through our time.

With a history that begins as the home of two tribes of Native Americans and continues as a city praised for its work in technology, education and healthcare, it is of little surprise that Durham's past is both eventful and noteworthy.

Durham's antebellum past has been preserved at Historic Stagville, once one of the largest plantations in the South. At Bennett Place, Durham would later host the negotiations that brought about the effective end to the Civil War, a historic site that can still be visited today. The war's end became the beginning of the South's industrial revolution, starting with the tobacco and textile industries, which can be explored at Duke Homestead and repurposed mills and warehouses. In all, Durham has three state historic sites — more than any other county in North Carolina.

Durham is also where the civil rights movement gained significant traction, and is where one of the nation's premier black universities made its home. Walk Black Wall Street. Explore the Hayti Heritage Center. See the historic Woolworth lunch counter where sit-ins occurred. Become acquainted with tributes to integration and progress at the Carolina Theatre, and myriad murals throughout the community. Pick up our African-American Heritage Guide when you visit the Visitor Info Center to find out where you can see, feel, learn, and embrace the past.

Museums

Home to art, sports, history, and nature and science museums, there’s plenty of opportunities to spend an afternoon (or a few) in Durham exploring new subjects in educational and entertaining ways.

The Museum of Durham History is a 21st century museum that uses stories about people, places, and things to foster curiosity, encourage further inquiry, and promote an understanding of diverse perspectives about the Durham community and its history. The museum puts its mission into action as a free, public venue that features rotating exhibits on a variety of Durham topics.

Established in 1891 by Edian Markham, a former slave, St. Joseph’s Historic Foundation (SJHF) is a non-profit organization that manages the Hayti Heritage Center. SJHF is dedicated to preserving Durham's African American heritage and the impact of the Hayti Heritage Center, a cultural and educational venue that houses a community room, two classrooms, a dance studio, the Lyda Moore Merrick Gallery, and the historic 400-seat performance hall.

Beyond every corner lies an adventure. Discover the adventure of digging through the archives of Durham’s story.

the durham way

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