A Student of History

April 8, 2007

231st Anniversary of Halifax Resolves

Filed under: NC History — John Maass @ 10:05 pm

Historic Halifax Celebrates 231st Anniversary of Halifax Resolves:

 

HALIFAX (April 5, 2007) — Make plans to mark 231 years of American independence from Great Britain on Thursday, April 12, at Halifax Day. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., festivities at Historic Halifax will celebrate the April 12, 1776, vote by North Carolina’s Provincial Congress to cut ties with the British Crown.

The program will feature costumed interpreters, living history demonstrations, “hands-on” activities, historic building tours, patriotic ceremonies and fun for the kids. It is sponsored by the Historical Halifax Restoration Association, Inc. All activities are free and open to the public.

Officials will honor the adoption of the Halifax Resolves in a commemoration ceremony at 2 p.m. During the ceremony, Department of Cultural Resources Secretary Lisbeth C. Evans will make a special announcement about the William R. Davie House restoration project. John Sanders, former director of the UNC-Chapel Hill Institute of Government, will be the guest speaker and discuss the history of the William R. Davie House.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and again from 3 to 4 p.m., the site’;s historic buildings will be open for tours. Historical crafts and living-history demonstrations are also planned during these times. Visitors can 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 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The 1776 Halifax Resolves resolution was the first official action for independence made by any of the 13 original American colonies. Recognized on the North Carolina flag with the date, April 12, 1776, the event is one of the most important in the state’s history. Though the resolves document itself was signed by only Secretary of the Fourth Provincial Congress James Green Jr., the resolution was passed unanimously by the 83 delegates present. This year also is the 250th anniversary of the Town of Halifax being chartered, which occurred on November 21, 1757.

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. Two other buildings are also 18th-century, Eagle Tavern and the Tap Room.

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 Burgess Law Office probably dates from the same period, though its design is the older Georgian style. Thomas Burgess owned the building in the early 1800s, and it is furnished as his law office and town house.

The two public buildings within the historic district — the Clerk’s Office and the Jail — were built by the same contractor. The Clerk’s Office, built from 1832-1833, is where valuable court records were once stored. One of its rooms is furnished as a court official’s office and one as a printer’s office, complete with a press.

The jail was built in 1838. Other site features reflect everyday life 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.

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 visit www.halifax.nchistoricsites.org. It is an agency of the N.C. Division of State Historic Sites, Department of Cultural Resources, a state agency dedicated to the promotion and protection of North Carolina’s arts, history, and culture.

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