The Burgwin-Wright House and Gardens in Wilmington, North Carolina, is part of the National Historic District and one of three homes that has survived the colonial era. Operated as a museum house, The Burgwin-Wright home is the only one of these three residences that is open to the public. The Burgwin-Wright home was built in 1770 and is one of the oldest homes in North Carolina. The original owner was John Burgwin, a wealthy plantation owner and merchant from England.
The architecture is Georgian and features three stories with multiple shaded porches, pillar columns, and immaculate gardens at the back of the property surrounded by a wrought iron fence.
Shortly after construction was completed, the revolutionary War lead to the home being occupied by Lord Cornwallis in 1781. Over the next two hundred years, the home would change hands several times and be purchased by many several wealthy and notable Wilmington families including Burgwin’s business partner Charles Jewke, and Charles’ wife Anne Grainger Wright.
In the 1930’s The National Society of Colonial Dames of North Carolina purchased the home and used it as their headquarters. The society had a mission of preserving the historic homes and landmarks in North Carolina and the Burgwin-Wright Home was the prime location, on Market Street in Downtown Wilmington.
The NSCDA-NC opened the home to the public as a museum in 1951 and have completed numerous renovations to keep the property preserved and also landscaped the gardens that border Market Street behind and surrounding the property.
The attraction at the Burgwin-Wright House and Gardens is the Property itself. Visitors are transported back to colonial times when touring the home. Bedrooms are still adorned with ornate fireplaces for heating, every room is furnished with antiques from the 18th and early 19th century that came from North Carolina. The site was also once the home of the town’s city jail and many supernatural enthusiasts have deemed the property as being haunted!
Outside of the home, visitors will find a cookhouse that was used for preparing meals. Traditionally, all meals were cooked by slaves outside of the home so that the heat and smells would not permeate through the house. Residents of the home and guests would then be served in the formal dining room which visitors can see set up as though dinner were about to be had.
The gardens are divided into both useful and ornate styles with a herb and vegetable garden being near the cookhouse. Visitors can also take a leisurely self-guided stroll through the orchards where a variety of fruit trees including fig and pomegranates grow as well as a two-terraced garden featuring Italian Cypress, Ferns, and hyacinths. There is also an aromatic rose garden with dozens of rare heirloom roses, live oaks, Spanish moss, and many other plants native to the area and abundant during Colonia and pre-industrialized times. Another unique garden is the Physic garden where medicinal herbs are grown that were used in holistic remedies during the 18th and 19th centuries. The gardens are open to the public and free of charge.
The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, February through December (last updated March 2017) and guided tours are available hourly. There is an admission charge for tours of the home. Docents of the museum will provide historical information while dressed in period costumes and educate visitors on the history of the home, the NSCDA-NC and the lore surrounding the home.
There are many special events that are held at the Burgwin-Wright home and Gardens that are open to the community and public throughout the year. More information about these events can be accessed through the events calendar. Past events have included local author book signing and presentations, history lectures and presentations, Founder’s Days Celebrations, open hearth cooking demonstrations and many other educational panels and symposiums.
Private events can also be held on the property in the gardens and courtyards. Weddings and portrait photography sessions are very popular and there are 7 different areas on 4 levels to ensure privacy and intimacy for your special events. Outdoor lighting can be arranged as well as use of the catering kitchen and restrooms however the interior of the home and museum will not be accessible.
There is also a special room available for meeting and small parties. The Florence Kidder Room is equipped with a projector and screen and is where many of the special events and educational seminars at the museum take place.
Back to: Things to Do in Wilmington, North Carolina
224 Market Street, Wilmington, North Carolina, 28401, Phone: 910-762-4523