Tryon Palace, Rebuilt from Its Ashes

Image from the State Archives

On April 8, 1959, the restored Tryon Palace opened to the public.

Interest in rebuilding the parts of the Palace that were lost in a 1798 fire was shown as early as 1925, but it wasn’t until 1945 that Gov. R. Gregg Cherry appointed a commission to study the idea and organize restoration efforts. Maude Moore Latham, a New Bern native who had played in the Palace ruins as a child, served as commission’s chair and committed substantial amounts of her own money to the project.

Gov. and Mrs. J. M. Broughton ,and Mr. and Mrs. C. A. Cannon in Williamsburg, Va. doing research for the restoration of Tryon Palace. Image from  the N.C. Museum of HistoryThe commission acquired the site of the original Palace with money from the General Assembly and, in 1951, the Boston firm that had restored Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia was hired to help with the restoration.

Two original copies of drawings of Palace done by its first architect John Hawks, extensive historical research, and substantial archaeological evidence guided the work. Workers located the building’s original foundations as construction began. As the excavations progressed, interior designers were aided by the discovery of pieces of marble, brass, molding and glass.

The restoration’s total cost came in at around $3.5 million, and, after its re-opening, the Palace quickly became one of the most visited historic sites in the state.

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