Dig it!

Published 5:00 pm Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

WINDSOR – Constructed 220 years ago on property that pre-dates the Revolutionary War, the former home of North Carolina Governor David Stone at Historic Hope Planation has been the site of numerous archaeological investigations.

Another such event is in the works.

Beginning this week, Cheryl Frankum will lead an investigation of an area on the west side of the mansion, near the two chimneys. Her work is expected to end in early August.

“Several visitors to the Plantation whose grandparents lived in the mansion have told us about a pit located near the two chimneys, but we do not know its function,” said Turner Sutton, President of the Historic Hope Foundation.

In an effort to find out what may be in that location, Sutton sought Frankum’s help.

“Cheryl has 16-plus years’ experience as a field archaeologist in investigations throughout the country. She is going to donate one month of her time to lead the excavation,” Sutton said.

He added that volunteers are welcomed and encouraged to perform age-appropriate tasks during the month-long investigation.

“Cheryl is willing to help lead and instruct all volunteers who are interested in the many aspects of an archaeological investigation, from the background research through to the responsible care and curation of all artifacts,” Sutton said. Work will begin at 8 am and end at 4 pm each day, Monday through Friday.

If you are interested in volunteering or bringing a group to observe the excavation, contact Frankum at cfrankum@hotmail.com, cell 915-373-9812, or Sutton at info@historichope.org, cell 252-325-0099.

“Cheryl has indicated that she is interested in sharing the current work with the public and tourists that visit the site daily, public events and any special occasions, and any press or public opportunities that would increase the public awareness of the importance of the archaeological site. This is a great opportunity for Hope,” Sutton said.

Need-to-know info for volunteers

Items needed for the site and archaeology are provided, but these personal items and recommendations would help you have a happier experience:

Backpack or bag is recommended


Hat/head protection

Bug spray (ticks, mosquitoes, and other insects can be annoying and even harmful)

Lunch/snacks (due to hotter temperatures, salty and non-perishable foods are best)

Water (if you think you have enough, bring an extra bottle, this is crucial in summer working conditions)

Gloves (simple garden gloves of cloth can be torn through on Day 1, so it’s recommended to use more heavy duty type gloves)

Wear comfortable clothing you do not mind getting dirty or tearing up. Wear comfortable and sturdy shoes/boots. If you plan to work with any shovel, you will want to make sure you have boots.

Be sure to remember to bring anything medically necessary for you, such as an epi-pen if you have allergies that require this.

History of Hope

The land surrounding present-day Historic Hope Plantation was originally granted to the Hobson family in the 1720s by the Lords Proprietors of the Carolina Colony. In the 1760s, Zedekiah Stone purchased the property and gave the property to David Stone in 1793.

The centerpiece of the site is the grand c.1803 Hope mansion built by Governor Stone. Built on an “above ground” basement, the house portrays basic Palladian design with some neoclassical elements. The five bay facade features a pedimented double portico. The hipped roof is topped by a “widow’s walk” surrounded by a Chinese Chippendale balustrade. The floor plan is adapted from Abraham Swann’s The British Architect, a copy of which David Stone owned.

The first floor rooms are entered from a center through hall. On the second floor are a large drawing room and a library, which housed Stone’s 1,400 volumes. In addition to the main stair, a service stair runs from the basement to the attic.

Hope was a self-contained plantation, as was Stone’s other plantation, Restdale, in Wake County. He owned at one time 8,000 acres in both Bertie and Wake.

His estate inventory lists by name 138 slaves of African descent. At Hope he operated a water powered grist mill, a still, and as indicated by his inventory, a saw mill, a blacksmith shop, a cooper’s shop and houses for spinning and weaving. His farm lands produced wheat, corn, oats, rye, flax, and cotton, for which he had a cotton machine.

On his pastures Stone raised cattle, sheep and horses. In his woods he raised hogs, while his forests produced timber for the sawmill.

The Plantation property also includes the 1763 King-Bazemore house, one of only two gambrel roofed houses in North Carolina with brick end walls. The King-Bazemore house and the Hope mansion, which are both listed on the National Register of Historic Places, represent a continuing agrarian culture during the Colonial and Federal periods in northeastern North Carolina.

In 1992, the Roanoke-Chowan Heritage Center was added to the site. The 13,000 square foot building serves as a visitor’s center and includes a large two and half story lobby with atrium, museum space, meeting/dining room, commercial kitchen, library, classroom, archival storage rooms, gallery, bookstore, offices, restrooms, and an outdoor patio. Portions of the site, including the Heritage Center are available for meetings, reunions, weddings, and other events.

Today, Historic Hope Foundation owns and manages 45 acres of the original 1,051-acre site owned by the Stone family. The mission of the Historic Hope Foundation Inc., a non-profit organization, is to provide educational, cultural and recreational benefits for the public by the preservation, maintenance and the administration of Historic Hope Plantation as an element of the heritage of the Roanoke-Chowan Region and as an illustration and interpretation of agrarian life in Eastern North Carolina from 1760 through 1840.

Hope Plantation is located at 132 Hope House Road, off of NC 308, four miles west of Windsor.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

email author More by Cal