Unique Museums In Central NC
From guerrilla warfare to 18-wheelers, North Carolina visitors get a glimpse inside the state’s culture and history at some unique museums in central North Carolina.
North Carolina and the military have been linked since before the Revolutionary War, and that link is explored in the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Museum in Fayetteville. This fascinating facility explores the evolution of guerrilla warfare and Special Forces tactics, like those used by civilians in the Underground Railroad to survive, escape and evade detection. Resistance groups in World War II used safe houses, signals and codes much the way members of the Underground Railroad did more than 100 years before. You’ll also find information on propaganda activities from the French-Indian War until World War II, as well as exhibits on the United States Army Indian Scouts and the US Army Rangers.
Durham is home to Historic Stagville, which at its zenith consisted of 30,000 acres and more than 900 slaves, was one of the largest plantations in antebellum North Carolina. On the 71-acre historic site that remains today, you’ll find the late 18th-century Bennehan House, four, two-story, four-room slave houses, a pre-Revolutionary War yeoman farmer's house, and a massive timber framed barn. Extensive collections of documents provide detailed accounts of both slave and owner life on the plantation. Costumed docents interpret daily life on the third Saturday of each month.
Körner's Folly, located in Kernersville, is billed as the strangest house in the world. No two doorways in the house are alike. The home features 20 different fireplaces, as well as cubbyholes, trap doors and pivoting windows. Ceiling heights range from six feet to a soaring 25 feet. In the attic is America’s first known private theater. In 1897, an interior designer and painter named Jule Gilmer Körner broke ground on the house that was supposed to be his temporary bachelor’s quarters. A neighboring farmer watching construction of the strange house said, “That will surely be Jule Körner’s folly.” Körner had a sense of humor and latched onto the name for his house.
Car lovers converge in North Carolina at museums like Backing Up Classics near Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord. Allen Miles, a retired real estate developer, built the museum when his car collection would no longer fit in his garage. No matter what your motorized love, you’ll find it in this 18,000-square-foot facility. There are 50 vehicles typically on display, ranging from antiques like a 1926 Model T, a 1933 Ford Tudor and a 1939 Graham. Currently displayed from the 50s and 60s are a 1957 Chevy, 1960 Nash Metropolitan, and 1969 Z-28, not to mention a 1966 Ford Fairlane once driven competitively by Ralph Earnhardt.
Our final museum stays in the transportation category. It’s Cherrryville’s C. Grier Beam Truck Museum. Beam, fresh out of college with no job and very little money, bought his first truck in 1932 using IOUs and good faith. Hauling coal and oranges, the Beam Trucking company grew into Carolina Freight Carriers Corporation. The museum is housed in the service station where the company began. Vintage trucks and trucking memorabilia from 70 years of trucking are preserved here.
added: December 31, 2008
updated: March 2, 2010