Raleigh’s Central Prison opened in 1884 to house a growing inmate population that overwhelmed the county jail systems. Inmate labor built the penitentiary, and one of the head architects of the $1.25 million Gothic-style complex was W. O. Wolfe, author Thomas Wolfe’s father. As of 2012, the prison contains nearly 1,000 inmates with a staff of 700.
Region: Piedmont Plateau
Born at Blount Hall on May 10, 1759, Thomas Blount served during the Revolutionary War and he was captured and sent to England during the conflict. After the war, Blount became a trader in Edgecombe County. Blount served in the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 9th, 10th, and 12th U.S. Congresses as a North Carolina representative.
The subject of Scottish folklore and myth, Flora MacDonald assisted Prince Charles Stuart in his escape from King George II during the Jacobite rebellion. In 1774, Flora and her family moved to the North Carolina colony, and Flora’s husband and son fought for the Loyalists during the Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge. The Jacobite heroine returned to her native Scotland in 1779 where she passed away in 1790.
Every June, the community of Spivey’s Corner hosts The National Hollerin’ Contest. Once used by farmers and rural neighbors to communicate across long distances, hollering fell away at the beginning of the twentieth century because of telephone use. The Hollerin’ Contest seeks to preserve the lost art alive, and nearly 3,000 tourists visit Sampson County to learn and celebrate it at the folk festival.
The Durham Bulls, North Carolina’s premier minor league baseball team, played their first game in 1902 as the Durham Tobacconists. Durham attorney William Bramham helped organize the team and popularize minor league baseball in North Carolina. The Durham Bulls is named after the Bull Durham tobacco-advertising icon, and as of 2012, the Bulls are the Class-AAA affiliate team of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
In Simkins v. Cone (1963), the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals decided that two Greensboro hospitals had discriminated against African American doctors and patients. Before the case, most North Carolina hospitals were segregated, and those designated solely for black patients offered only sub-optimal healthcare. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case, and Simkins became the first time a federal court applied the Fourteenth Amendment to private racial discrimination.
Born on June 1, 1926 in Mount Airy, Andy Griffith studied at UNC-Chapel Hill where he majored in music. Griffith worked as a teacher for several years before starting his career as an actor, starring in the play No Time for Sergeants, a Broadway show that opened in 1955. Five years later, Griffith starred in his most famous role as Sheriff Andy Griffith in The Andy Griffith Show. Griffith starred in several other television movies and shows, including Matlock before his retirement to Dare County. The actor died on July 3, 2012 from heart complications.
Born in Johnston County in 1922, Ava Lavinia Gardner became one of Hollywood’s most popular starlets in the 1940s and 1950s. She attended Rock Ridge High School and Atlantic Christian College (now Barton College), and in 1939 her big break in film occurred. While visiting her sister in New York a photographer took several pictures of Gardner who later sent them to the MGM talent office. MGM signed Gardner to a seven-year contract and her acting career began. Gardner appeared in several classic films including The Killers, One Touch of Venus, and the classic musical, Show Boat.
One of the premier college newspapers in the United States, the Daily Tar Heel started publication in 1893. UNC students originally paid 5 cents per issue for the weekly newspaper. The newspaper is now a free daily. Some of North Carolina’s most well-known writers and publishers edited the Daily Tar Heel. Notables include Thomas Wolfe, Frank Porter Graham, and Jonathan Daniels.
Born in Raleigh in 1801, William H. Haywood, Jr., served as a U.S. Senator from 1843 until 1846. He studied at the University of North Carolina, was admitted to the bar in 1822, and he later practiced in Raleigh. As a Democrat, Haywood served in the state legislature until moving to the U.S. Senate. Haywood resigned from office in 1846 and he practiced law until his death in 1852.