Friday, October 1, 2010

Duke Homestead & Tobacco Museum

In one of the breaks in the rain, and after the fun I had at Burwell School Historic Site, Sarah C. and I took the boys to the Duke Homestead. We had driven by the signs for it so many times, we finally decided to stop.

So I am just throwing this thought out there: we had a great time at this site, but it also felt a little odd taking my child to a place that glorifies tobacco products. I appreciate and totally understand that tobacco farming is a huge part of our history here in NC, and the Duke Family made their fortunes through it. Still a little weird though to walk your child through a museum showing all the different kinds of tobacco products (seriously) and a display of over 30 spittoons.

But I quickly got over my momentary "am I a good parent?" guilt as our boys had a really good time here and it was a great outing for us.

The museum is older, but has a lot. There are all sorts of exhibits showing life both on a tobacco farm and during a bygone era. A huge reason we went was that I had read online about the large, mechanical talking farmer. This thing is huge, and talks with jerky movements about farming. I was wondering if the boys would be scared by it, but they were totally fine.

One thing about the museum: the exhibits are cordoned off only by a bar, no rails. Which means the little ones would pop right under the bar into the exhibits. A Runaway Babies Case strikes again.

Outside is the old homestead grounds and tobacco farms. There is even a field of living, growing tobacco to see. The house (built in 1852) has actually been moved from its original location. I have read that it is open to the public, but we honestly didn't try to go in. Roaming toddlers and pieces of antiquity don't seem to mesh well.

The boys did greatly enjoy wandering around the huge homestead grounds. Runaway Babies was fantastic. They looked at old farm equipment, found joy in being outside, and it was great for a parent as you have a long line of sight.

As tobacco still is the number one export of North Carolina, the Duke Homestead offers events throughout the year (not too often, though, so stay tuned) not only demonstrating farming techniques in a hands-on way for kids, but also celebrating many old customs and lifestyles. Check out their website for events. MiCHill hasn't personally been to any events, but we hear great things about them. The candlelight Christmas event sounds great to me with caroling and hot cider!

Guided tours are offered every 15 minutes after the hour for those families with older kids. Otherwise, you are provided a pamphlet detailing each building's history and purpose.

Everything is free. There are picnic benches, too, so pack a lunch.

Srollers will certainly work in the museum. Paths around the homestead are gravel, so jogging strollers would be best.

Honestly, this is a really pretty piece of land, with national historic sites, all about a family that has meant so much to and truly enriched our area. Check it out someday.

Duke Homestead & Tobacco Museum
2828 Duke Homestead Road


At October 4, 2010 at 9:19 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info on this great site! The only correction I have is that the historic house is original and has not been moved.

At October 4, 2010 at 6:12 PM , Blogger chapelhillmom said...

Thanks for the correction! The literature we got said that one of the old buildings had been moved, but apparently I got confused. Thanks for the post!


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