Lower Cape Fear Historical Society is a not for profit, non political corporation which is dedicated to the study and preservation of history in the Lower Cape Fear Area, North Carolina. LCFHS is based in Wilmington, North Carolina and has existed since 1956. Not long after the founding of the society, they decided to create an emblem which that of an old DRAM Tree but it has since been adapted to that of a the seals of North Carolina and the city of Wilmington as well as a cartouche. LCFHS has many roles to play in its mission. It tends to and organises the large amount of age old artifacts, documents and publications in its collection, maintains and restores Latimer House in historic Wilmington and arranges and runs a multitude of events, exhibits, programs and lectures. LCFHS relies on donations, membership schemes, volunteers in the community and its board members to achieve these goals.
The LCFHS has permanent exhibits which members of the public can visit for an admission fee. These include Latimer house and gardens, and The Archives and Research Library which requires a small extra reading fee.
The main attraction run by the LCFHS is Latimer House situated at the corner of Third and Orange Streets in the downtown area of Wilmington. The house is designed in a Victorian Italianate style and is the face of upper class Wilmington life during the Victorian era. Built in 1852 and under the LCFHS’s ownership since 1962 the house boasts 14 large rooms and more than 600 objects of historical significance. Inside, visitors can browse intricate jewelry, tools and extravagant and lavish furniture. As visitors step through the sun porch, past the Corinthian columns at the front of the house they can see that the home was designed to be symmetrical with matching room layouts on either side divided by a hallway. On the first floor the house reveals the south sides less grand and formal sitting rooms and the north side’s plush and very formal dining and sitting areas. A notable room which is popular to visit is the southeast parlor with its marble fireplace, glistening chandelier and floor to ceiling windows. The second floor reveals grand chambers and bathrooms with ornate drapes and further personal possessions laid out as if in use. The house can be rented out for private functions such as a photography session, wedding or meeting.
The Society Archives located in Latimer House has hundreds of cubic feet of material archives including over two thousand photographs, 3,000 volumes of information and space to search and read findings. There is a huge collection of genealogy files kept in a vertical file of 8 file drawers containing the information on over 1,000 of local families. Additionally, visitors can see more genealogical notes in the form of 36 boxes detailing many decades of local families histories. Statistics and files filled with census records, tax records, and cemetery records are also stored within the archives and come from the Old New Hanover Genealogical Society.
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The gardens are another part of the grounds which have been renovated and maintained by the LCFHS and opened to the public. Plantlife and flowers which are authentic to the era fill the garden and the original lace and stucco brick wall contains the garden around the edge. Swirled white metal benches allow for visitors to sit and admire the view whist era appropriate stone sculptures set the tone. The freshly cut lawn and all of the garden's upkeep is maintained by volunteer gardeners. The garden has been restored to how it may have looked when Mrs Latimer oversaw its upkeep but is not an exact replica due to many plants dying off and overgrown weeds and grass camouflaging its previous appearance.
Tours are available of the property accompanied by a trained docent. Tours last 1 ½ hours and are available Monday to Saturday in both morning and afternoon slots. The tours are interactive and free roaming without ropes to prevent visitors from exploring. Tours are also available of Historic Wilmington.
LCFHS has a popular membership scheme which suits a range of budgets. Members can choose between the lowest membership of student to individual, family, contributing, sustaining, friend and the highest member title of benefactor. Events hosted at Latimer house are held throughout the year with past events of artists walking tours, Civil War weekend meets and book talks with lunch in the Tea Room being well attended and received by participants.
Back to: Wilmington, NC
126 I St, Wilmington, NC 28401, Phone: 910-762-0492
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