Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Mordecai House, Raleigh

The oldest house on its original foundation in Raleigh, North Carolina, is the Mordecai House, the center of the Mordecai Historic Park. It was built in 1785 for Henry and Polly Lane as a wedding gift by Joel Lane, the founder of Raleigh. Their daughter Margaret married Moses Mordecai, from whom the house gets its name. The house was a plantation manor with land amounting to several thousand acres. The main crops were corn, wheat, and cotton. As North Carolina was part of the American South, they did have slaves working the plantation. The home held five generations of the family and was occupied until the 1960s.

Mordecai House, Raleigh

Our tour of the house started in the back with the original building. The front was added later, creating more bedrooms along with a front dining room and parlor.

Back of the house

 The original house had one room that served as the dining room, business office, and family room. The furnishing still reflect the multi-use of the room.

Original living area


A desk for business and letter writing

The front of the house has a new, larger formal dining room.

The front dining room

Service table with family portrait

Relaxing area with more family portraits

 The two male portraits on the wall are interesting in that there is no indication of who they are. Possibly they are the same man, though the noses are different. The two silhouettes in the top picture may indicated Moses Mordecai, who married a second time when Margaret died.

Close up of the portraits

 Across the hall is the new parlor where the family would entertain guests or themselves.

Parlor fireplace and writing table (and more books!)

Piano with family portraits

Upstairs are several bedrooms. The first is decorated as when Ellen Mordecai, Moses's daughter, lived at the home.

Dress from Ellen

Her poster bed

Hat box with some samples

Two other bedrooms have more modern decor--more modern than the mid-1800s! I was heartened to see a master bed with a crib attached like my wife and I did with our firstborn.

Master bedroom with crib attached to the bed

Toys and knick-knacks

The fireplace

The hall in between the two front bedrooms is a breezeway with a door opening onto the upstairs balcony. The family could sleep out there in the hot summer and get some benefit from cooler night air flowing through the upper part of the house.

Breezeway all the way back to Ellen's room

The other bedroom was an aunt's room with an extra bed for a niece. Often extended family members lived at the house at the same time, so few if any had their own room.

More modern bed

Dresser with marble top and extra bed

We enjoyed our tour immensely and highly recommend visiting Mordecai Historic Park if you are in (or visit) Raleigh.

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