Bellamy Mansion © Brownie Harris
Civil War Reenactment

Historic Sites

Wilmington, NC · Kure Beach · Carolina Beach · Wrightsville Beach

New Hanover County, North Carolina

National Register of Historic Places

Wilmington, North Carolina and the Cape Fear Coast, part of one of America’s original Thirteen Colonies, have a rich history.  History buffs can explore interesting historic sites including those related to Native American Indians; American Revolution also known as the Revolutionary War when the Thirteen Colonies broke from the British Crown (1775-83); Industrial Revolution; Civil War also known as the War Between the States (1861-65); and, World War II (1939-45).

Wilmington NC history is an important part of American history.  The City of Wilmington, North Carolina was incorporated in 1741 and named in honor of Spencer Compton, the Earl of Wilmington, before the United States of America was created on July 4, 1776.  It is located on the banks of the Cape Fear River, has the largest historic district of any urban area in the state, and reportedly is the third largest in the United States.  Wilmington NC is the first American World War II Heritage City in the United States.

The United States Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Second Continental Congress meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on July 4, 1776.  Three North Carolinians signed the Declaration of Independence.  William Hooper, a lawyer from Wilmington, was one of the signers.  In 1914, the William Hooper School located on Mears Street between South 4th and South 5th Streets in Wilmington was named in his honor.  The William Hooper School listed on the National Register of Historic Places closed in 1984.

Wrightsville Beach was incorporated as a town on March 6, 1899.  It is named after Joshua Grainger Wright and the Wright family of Wilmington.

Carolina Beach was incorporated as a town in 1925.

Kure Beach was founded in the early 1900s by Hans Andersen Kure, a native of Denmark.  It was incorporated as a town in April 1947.

We respect the perspectives of all individuals in relation to historic sites that should be put in context.  The historical sites are provided for educational purposes as part of a comprehensive tourism experience.  This page brings you there.  Further research placing you back in time will help convey the full import of the location.

Historic Sites

1898 Memorial

– Wilmington     map

1898 Wilmington Race Riot Report

– Wilmington

African American Heritage – “A Guide to Wilmington’s African American Heritage”
Religious, educational, social, and cultural sites

– Wilmington

America’s First “World War II Heritage City” – Wilmington, North Carolina

– Wilmington     map

Audubon Trolley Station

– Wilmington     map

Basilica Shrine of Saint Mary

– Wilmington     map

Bellamy Mansion Museum of History & Design Arts

– Wilmington     map

Bradley-Latimer Summer House

– Wrightsville Beach     map

Brookwood Historic District

– Wilmington     map

Burgwin-Wright House and Gardens

– Wilmington     map

Cape Fear Civil War Shipwreck District

– Kure Beach, Carolina Beach, Wrightsville Beach, Wilmington

Carolina Heights Historic District

– Wilmington

Carolina Place Historic District

– Wilmington

City Hall / Thalian Hall

– Wilmington     map

Delgrado School

– Wilmington     map

Federal Building and Courthouse

– Wilmington     map

Federal Point History Center

– Carolina Beach     map

First Baptist Church

– Wilmington     map 

First Presbyterian Church

– Wilmington     map

Fort Fisher

– Kure Beach     map

Fort Fisher During World War II

– Kure Beach     map

Gabriel’s Landing

– Wilmington     map

Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor

– Coastal North Carolina     map

Hannah Block Historic WWII USO Center Museum

– Wilmington     map

Historic Wilmington Foundation Preserved Buildings

– Wilmington    map

Historic Wilmington Foundation Downtown Plaque Map

– Wilmington    map

William Hooper School (Former)

– Wilmington     map

Jacob’s Run Tunnels

– Wilmington

Latimer House

– Wilmington     map

Joy Lee Apartment Building and Annex

– Carolina Beach     map

Market Street Mansion District

– Wilmington     map

Masonboro Sound Historic District

– Wilmington     map

Moores Creek National Battlefield

– Currie     map

Mount Lebanon Chapel and Cemetery

– Wrightsville Beach     map

Native American Indians – NC American Indian History Timeline – NC Museum of History

Native American Indians – NC Tribal Communities – NC Commission of Indian Affairs

Native American Indians – NC Native Communities – UNC American Indian Center

Native American Indians – Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina

Newton Homesite and Cemetery

– Carolina Beach     map

North Carolina – Civil War Battlefield

– Wilmington, New Hanover County, Cape Fear River

Poplar Grove Plantation

– Wilmington     map

James D. and Frances Sprunt Cottage

– Wrightsville Beach     map

Sunset Park Historic District

– Wilmington     map

St. James Episcopal Church

– Wilmington     map

St Mark’s Episcopal Church

– Wilmington     map

St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church

– Wilmington     map

Temple of Israel

– Wilmington     map

Thalian Hall

– Wilmington     map

Tinga Nursery

– Wrightsboro     map

USS NORTH CAROLINA

– Wilmington     map

U.S.S. PETERHOFF

– Fort Fisher     map

James Walker Nursing School Quarters

– Wilmington     map

Westbrook-Ardmore Historic District

– Wilmington     map

Wilmington – Civil War Confederate Map

– Wilmington

Wilmington – Civil War Federal Map

– Wilmington

Wilmington – Civil War Federal Blockade

– Cape Fear River, Atlantic Ocean, Wilmington

Wilmington – Civil War Port City

– Wilmington     map

Wilmington Historic Shipwreck District

– Wilmington

Wilmington National Cemetery

– Wilmington     map

Wilmington – National Register Historic District
The National Register Historic District was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1974 and its area expanded in 2003.  It is comprised of 1,070 acres to include approximately 230+ blocks, 875 buildings, 38 sites, and other structures.  This historic zone includes residential and commercial buildings that have been part of our nation’s development produced by the local population.  See the historic district map here and its inventory list here.

– Downtown Wilmington     map    State Historic Preservation map

Wilmington Historic District Highlights    map

Wilmington / Port City Architecture – Courtesy of New Hanover County Public Library

– Wilmington

Wilmington Harbor – Courtesy of New Hanover County Public Library

– Wilmington

– Deep Dive –

Wilmington’s Historic District:  A Journey Through Time

Embark on a journey through time as you explore Wilmington’s Historic District, a captivating tapestry of history, culture, and maritime charm. From the cobblestone streets lined with grand antebellum mansions to the captivating museums that chronicle the city’s rich past, this district offers a unique glimpse into the evolution of Wilmington from its colonial origins to its modern-day status as a vibrant coastal city.

Wilmington’s Colonial Beginnings

Our story begins in 1733 when English colonists established Wilmington as a trading post along the Cape Fear River. Strategically situated at the confluence of two major waterways, the Cape Fear and the Brunswick, Wilmington quickly emerged as a pivotal hub for trade and commerce, attracting settlers from across the Atlantic and Indigenous peoples from the surrounding region.

Indigenous Heritage: A Legacy of Resilience

Before the arrival of European settlers, the Cape Fear region was home to a vibrant Native American community.  These peoples thrived for centuries, cultivating crops, practicing traditions, and stewarding the land.  Their legacy lives on in the archaeological sites and cultural exhibits that dot the city, serving as a reminder of their enduring presence and the rich tapestry of Wilmington’s history.

The American Revolution:  A Crucible of Freedom

As the winds of revolution swept across the Thirteen Colonies, Wilmington found itself thrust into the heart of the struggle for independence.  The city played a crucial role in supplying the Continental Army with goods and men, its harbor bustling with ships carrying provisions and soldiers to support the fight against British rule.  Wilmington’s strategic location and unwavering support for the cause of independence made it a target for British forces, and the city endured several sieges and skirmishes during the war.

Industrial Revolution:  A New Era of Progress

The 19th century ushered in an era of rapid industrialization for Wilmington, fueled by the expansion of the cotton trade and the arrival of railroads.  The city’s riverfront transformed into a bustling hub of shipbuilding and manufacturing, attracting skilled workers and entrepreneurs from across the country.  Factories sprang up along the riverbanks, producing textiles, lumber, and other goods, while shipbuilding yards churned out vessels that plied the waterways of the South and beyond.

Civil War:  A Nation Divided

The outbreak of the Civil War in 1861 brought turmoil and destruction to Wilmington, as the city became a key strategic point for both the Union and Confederate forces. Its river port, deepwater harbor, and network of railroads made it essential for transporting supplies and troops, and the city was repeatedly targeted for attack.  The Battle of Fort Fisher, a pivotal clash in the war, was fought just outside Wilmington in 1865, marking a turning point in the struggle for Southern independence.

World War II:  A Global Conflict in Wilmington’s Backyard

As the world plunged into the chaos of World War II, Wilmington found itself once again playing a vital role in the nation’s defense.  The city’s shipyards and factories hummed with activity, producing ships, munitions, and other supplies for the Allied forces.  Thousands of workers poured into the region, drawn by the promise of employment and the patriotic spirit that gripped the nation.  Wilmington’s contributions to the war effort were significant, and the city’s role in supporting the Allied cause cannot be overstated.

Wilmington’s Historic District stands as a testament to the city’s resilience and adaptability, having witnessed and weathered the storms of history.  Through its cobblestone streets, grand antebellum mansions, and captivating museums, this district invites visitors to step back in time and explore the rich tapestry of Wilmington’s past.  From its colonial beginnings to its role in shaping the course of American history, Wilmington’s Historic District offers a unique and unforgettable journey through time.

Tourist Information

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