The Mordecai Historic Park is a village-like collection of historic buildings near Oakwood centered around the Mordecai House, Raleigh’s oldest residence on it’s original location.
The Mordecai House (listed on the National Register of Historic Places) was built by Joel Lane in 1785 for his son Henry and Henry’s bride Polly. At the time, it was at the center of a 5,000-acre plantation that now makes up much of the norther part of the downtown area. The building was named after lawyer Moses Mordecai, who married both of Henry and Polly’s daughters. That’s right – both: Moses married Peggy Lane after the death of her older sister Margaret. Scandal!
The Mordecai park is also home to the building that where Andrew Johnson was born in 1808. It has been relocated to the Mordecai site. Funny aside: in 2005, the SyFy show Ghost Hunters aired an episode taped at Mordecai.
St. Mark’s Chapel is another popular building on the Mordecai campus. It was built in the mid-1800s as the Haughton family chapel in Gulf, North Carolina. Since it was built for the use of a single family and their slaves, the chapel is small, which makes it a great location for weddings. It was actually St. Mark’s Chapel that inspired my visit to the park. More specifically, it was the pew covers custom-stitched for the chapel by a team of dedicated volunteers. The thirty-three pew covers (plus a cover for the kneeling bench) depict North Carolina flora and fauna in great detail. I had the honor of introducing Susan Stallings, one of the stitchers, at the 2011 Fred Fletcher Awards. Susan was recognized as an Outstanding Program Volunteer for her work on the pew covers and all of the many ways that she helps at the park. Check out the pics below for photos of some of the pew covers.
I’m glossing over a lot here – you should really visit the park and take a tour to get the low-down on all of the history concentrated here. Guided tours begin on the hour, Tuesday – Sunday. The first tour on weekdays starts at 10am, the last at 3pm. On Sundays, the park is open from 1-4pm. The schedule may change if a school group is on-site. On Saturdays in December through March, hour-long trolley rides of Historic Raleigh leave the park at 11am, 12pm, 1pm and 2pm.