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Beaufort Historic Site Beaufort Attractions
100 Block
Turner St.
Beaufort, NC 28516

(252) 728-5225

People come from far and wide to see the Beaufort Historic Site, a 2-acre area attraction made up of ten buildings, six authentically restored, in the center of town. Cared for by the Beaufort Historical Association, the site annually hosts nearly 60,000 visitors, who tour the buildings and participate in the tours, classes, workshops, special events and historical re-enactments scheduled throughout the year. This heritage tourism site, along with the bustling Beaufort waterfront, is part of what makes this little seaport so special and appealing.

Before you begin to look around, go to the Robert W. and Elva Faison Safrit Historical Center at 130 Turner Street. The center welcomes and orients visitors to the historic site with free exhibits and demonstrations. If you decide to take any of the guided tours, the Historical Center is where you purchase tickets and meet the tour guide. The Old Beaufort Museum Gift Shop is also here, as well as loads of information about the town of Beaufort and other not-to-be-missed attractions. The center is open Monday through Saturday 9:30 AM to 5 PM from March through November and 10 AM to 4 PM Monday through Saturday from December through February. After a visit to the Safrit Historical Center, we guarantee you'll want to spend a few more days in town.

Ongoing preservation efforts have kept Old Beaufort, celebrating its 300th anniversary in 2009, in tune with its treasured history and heritage. Most of the historically important restored buildings you'll see at the Beaufort Historic Site were moved from other locations in town to preserve them for current and future generations. So that visitors get the most from each tour, the BHA has restored and preserved the buildings in award-winning detail. The collections and furnishings, some original to the structure, help interpret a particular period in Beaufort’s history. Guided walking tours of the buildings (we describe some of them here) are conducted by costumed and knowledgeable docents Monday through Saturday year-round for $9 per adult and $4 for children.

Josiah Bell House, c. 1825, is a Victorian home with side gardens and served as the residence of the influential Bell family of Beaufort. Josiah Fisher Bell, son of the home’s namesake, was a Confederate agent during the Civil War. The home’s interior represents the opulent Victorian period.

Samuel Leffers Cottage, c.1778, is a primitive house that was once home to Beaufort’s schoolmaster. The house serves as the perfect setting to showcase artifacts relating to the daily Colonial period chores of cooking, spinning, sewing, candle making and weaving.

John C. Manson House, c. 1825, was the first building purchased by the Beaufort Historical Association in the 1960s. Located on its original site, this elegant Federal Period home is an excellent study in the decorative arts, complete with an authentic faux-finished interior. The award-winning home is a testament to the Beaufort Historic Site’s dedication to authentic restoration.

The Carteret County Courthouse of 1796 has been completely restored to its original governmental glory. It is the only eighteenth-century framed courthouse of its size in North Carolina that has been restored, or is in a condition that would even allow restoration. The authentic preservation project won several local, state and national awards. The courthouse serves as the backdrop for the Beaufort Historic Site’s courthouse dramatization, an integral tool for educating today’s youth about the early American legal system.

Old County Jail, c.1829, has two cells and a jail keeper's quarters, which were in use until 1954. The Old Jail boasts 28-inch thick walls and legends of ghosts. The jailer and his family coexisted here with the prisoners, though the jailer’s quarters were much cozier than those of the inmates.

The Apothecary Shop and Doctor's Office, c.1859, features a fascinating collection of medical instruments and memorabilia from the county's early doctors and dentists, most of which are original to the shop. These items make the building very popular with history buffs.

R. Rustell House, c.1732, is home to the Mattie King Davis Art Gallery. In its time, the building was a typical Beaufort cottage and was owned by prominent early citizen Richard Rustell, Jr. The gallery is the oldest in Carteret County and is open year round, offering the artwork and crafts for more than 100 local and regional artists for show and sale.

After touring the historic site, hop on the vintage English double-decker bus for a terrific narrated tour of Beaufort's historic district. The tour comes complete with fascinating stories about town residents and noted locations and homes that shaped Beaufort’s 300 years of history. Bus tours depart the historic site from April through October on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Bus tour fees are $9 for adults and $4 for children. Groups are delightfully welcomed by reservation.

Don't miss the Old Burying Ground on Ann Street. This treasured cemetery, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was listed in Our State magazine as one of the top 52 sites to see in North Carolina. It was also featured in the Nicholas Sparks book A Walk to Remember and is open daily from early morning until dusk as an amazing lesson of our past. The weathered tombstones dating back to the early 1700s chronicle the heritage of Beaufort and the surrounding coast. Stories of military heroes, star-crossed lovers, privateers and noted Beaufort residents of all ages are featured under a protective canopy of live oaks. From June through September, the BHA gives narrated tours of the cemetery on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday (fees are $9 for adults and $4 for children). Group tours can also be arranged year round. To take the tour on your own there is a map available at the Safrit Historical Center.

In addition to these activities, the Beaufort Historical Association conducts the fabulous annual Beaufort Old Homes Tour and Antiques Show during the last full weekend in June. Activities include tours of private and BHA–owned homes and gardens, musical performances, more than 40 antique dealers from all over the East Coast, re-enactments and more. In case you decide you just can't leave Beaufort (and many have), volunteers are always welcome to become involved in the coastal history presented and preserved through the Beaufort Historic Site and the Beaufort Historical Association. The Beaufort Historical Association is a nonprofit organization formed in the 1960s by local citizens and is dedicated to the research, education and the preservation of Carteret County's incredible history. Membership at all levels is welcomed. The Beaufort Historic Site also gladly hosts private parties, weddings, and receptions by reservation.

 

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