Originally built between 1767 and 1770, Tryon Palace was meant to be the home of the Royal Governor and his family. It was also the first capitol of North Carolina. The Palace was designed in a Georgian style by John Hawks for Governor William Tryon. Rich in history, in 1791, the Palace was the site of a dancing assembly and dinner held in honor of President George Washington.
After Raleigh became the capital of North Carolina in 1794, Palace space was rented out to several different entities, including a private school, a boarding house, an a Masonic lodge. In 1978, a fire destroyed much of the main building, but the Kitchen and Stable Offices were not destroyed. Early in the 19th century, the Kitchen Office was demolished. The Stable Office managed to survive. Over the years, many changes were made to the area. A movement began in the 1930s that sought for restoration of the Palace. Nearly two decades later, the Palace restoration began. In April of 1959, the Palace was opened to the public.
Currently, both floors of the Palace are open to the public, as is the cellar. Dressed in clothing from the original period, guides now conduct tours of the building. Palace furnishings are primarily English. Governor Tryon made a list of his possessions following the fire, and this detailed list was used as a guide when the Palace was reconstructed and refurbished.
The Kitchen Office and Stable Office were reconstructed with guidance from John Hawks' 1767 architectural plans. Today, visitors can experience the sounds and sights of what was considered a modern kitchen in the 18th century. Craftspeople invite visitors to try ironing, spinning, and weaving. Craftspeople also demonstrate how household chores were done in the 1700s. The Stable Office is the only part that remains of the original Palace complex. During restoration, several parts of the Stable Office were replaced or removed, but roughly 75% of the original brickwork remains.
The Palace features several collections. Paintings, ceramics, silver, glass, furniture, paper, and other objects are displayed. The Palace also features two galleries with objects d'art. In addition to the Palace itself, the area around the Palace includes 14 acres of gardens.
No one can be certain about what the original Palace Gardens looked like, as at least three different garden plans have been discovered. As a result, the current gardens are not based on any of the historic plans. Instead, Morley Williams designed the gardens when the Palace was restored. The design of the gardens is in the colonial revival style, which was popular in the middle of the 20th century.
The Palace Gardens are actually made up of 13 different gardens. The Kitchen Garden is behind the Kitchen Office and includes different varieties of 18th century vegetables, fruit trees, and herbs. The Kellenberger Garden is a walled garden. The Wilderness Garden is located south of the Palace, and the Latham Garden is a formal garden. The Green Garden is in a small enclosed space and was designed for the private use of the family whereas the Stanley House Garden is home to two reproductions of summer houses. The Carraway Garden is located behind the Visitor Center and is a parterre garden. The Commission House Harden is a Victorian garden while the Pleached Allye Garden features yaupon holly that has been pleached across the top of the walkway. Named after the Palace architect, John Hawks, Hawks Allye Garden features Italian statues that are surrounded by flowers. Surrounded by a white picket fence, the Stoney Flower Garden is behind the Carraway Garden and features antique roses and old-fashioned perennials. The Tyler Garden is home to a mixture of beds that are similar to the New Bern gardens of the mid 19th century. As a more practical garden, the Hay House includes vegetables, herbs, and fruits that were likely to be grown for food or medicinal purposes.
Tryon Palace Historic Sites and Gardens is located at 610 Pollock Street in New Bern, North Carolina. Hours and ticket pricing vary based on which areas are being visited and what season it is. Additional information on ticket pricing and hours can be obtained by calling 800-767-1560 or 252-514-4900.