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“Well worth a visit”

Stagville State Historic Site
Ranked #18 of 89 things to do in Durham
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Stagville is the site of the largest antebellum plantation complex in North Carolina. By 1860, this lands, owned by the Bennehan and Cameron families, spread out over 30,000 acres (47 sq. miles) and was home to over 900 enslaved people. Our goal is to provide a balanced interpretation through tours and special events that tell the story of free and enslaved people who called Stagville home.
Reviewed 3 April 2018

An extremely interesting, well-preserved and genuinely historic location for America that should be more popular than it seems to be. I am very glad to have visited but found the attitude of our tour guide to be needlessly patronizing and overbearing. I thought it was great to hear a focus on the lives of the slaves but was wryly disappointed in the pointed lack of information on the planter family and how they lived. In my opinion, one set of research needn’t be at the expense of the other, and researching both does not indicate a tacit acceptance of the brutality of slavery. People are interested in history, record and why people acted as they did in a time that is bizarre to judge by today’s standards. To paraphrase a philosopher, whitewashing our history dooms us to repeat it.

I understand that Stagville wants to come at the touring of a plantation from an in vogue apologist perspective of white guilt, but such a consistent diatribe from a guide is unpleasant and unnecessary. I imagine that our guide felt the need to orate so vehemently in fear of tourists missing anything they should feel bad about.

It is not the role of a tour guide to try and make tourists feel bad, ignorant or racist, simply for wanting to know what life was like for planters, as well as for the slaves they drove. Tourists come from a long way to see Stagville, keep the site alive in doing so, and want to hear historic facts more than they want to hear political opinion.

My advice as a visitor, would simply be more facts, more history, invite more questions, be less aggressive. It would be great to know how many slaves worked in the house, what their days consisted of, how many slept in each slave quarter, what their life expectancy was, how the Stagville slave populous had come to be at the plantation, what areas of West Africa their families had originated from, how Stagville compared in size Nationwide (as exhibited, the North had plantations, too) and what happened to the plantation slaves after emancipation.

The slave trade was barbaric and complex. To denigrate its narrative to “kidnapped in Africa, shipped to the South, then the civil war was fought to save them” is not merely a simplistic view but also inaccurate. It’s OK to be interested in what a planter’s house and family was like – that’s part of history – and if we start ruling out anyone from history who lived in a way that is unacceptable by today’s standards, then unfortunately, world-over, there wouldn’t be much left to visit.

2  Thank Joey P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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"slave quarters"
in 24 reviews
"plantation house"
in 9 reviews
"plantation life"
in 7 reviews
"the main house"
in 7 reviews
"free tour"
in 4 reviews
"tour guide"
in 8 reviews
"great barn"
in 3 reviews
"slave labor"
in 2 reviews
"multiple families"
in 2 reviews
"pre civil war"
in 2 reviews
"visitor's center"
in 4 reviews
"tour takes about an hour"
in 2 reviews
"deep south"
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"north carolina"
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"suggested donation"
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"two story"
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"interesting history"
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Reviewed 24 March 2018

Most plantation or historic home tours focus on the family that owned the property; Stagville's tour emphasizes the experience and achievements of enslaved people. This crucial perspective is woven throughout the tour, from where enslaved servants stood in the household and what they would have heard to the skills of enslaved artisans and how they transformed communities after the Civil War.

The site's thesis revolves around the impact of a culture of slavery on individuals, and how we still grapple with these issues today. I was just trying to kill time before a flight, but I stumbled into an excellent experience.

1  Thank Mitch S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 11 February 2018

Historic Stagville, preserved as a North Carolina historic site, was originally home to Virginia merchant Richard Bennehan, who moved to North Carolina in 1768 at the age of 25. In 1776, the same year he wed Mary Amis, Bennehan purchased farmland from Judith Stag and started his own plantation. In 1787, he built a one-and-a-half story farmhouse, later more than doubling its size by adding a two-story addition. Over time, Bennehan became one of the wealthiest planters in the region, owning 4,000 acres and 40 slaves, and raising livestock, tobacco, and grain.

In 1803, the Bennehans’ daughter, Rebecca, married Duncan Cameron, a Hillsborough lawyer. In 1807, the couple moved to Stagville and Duncan assisted in operating the combined Bennehan-Cameron plantations. Under Duncan’s management, the farms continued to thrive. In time, the Cameron’s third child, Paul, assumed management of the sprawling plantations. A civic-minded individual, Paul Cameron also served as president of the North Carolina Railroad, state senator, and University trustee. At the start of the Civil War, the plantation holdings of the Bennehan-Cameron families totaled nearly 30,000 acres and 900 slaves, and Paul Cameron was considered the wealthiest man in the state.

Tours of the site begin in the original portion of the 1787 plantation house, which includes a business office, dining room, butler’s pantry (formerly a bedroom), and second floor loft. The 1799 addition includes an entry hall and parlor on the first floor and two bedrooms on the second. The house was built of heart pine, and all of the interior woodwork is original. Other buildings on the tour are located about a mile away, where visitors will see four two-story slave quarters built during the 1850s. Each building includes four rooms, with each room intended to house 5 to 7 people. Built by slave labor, the craftsmanship displayed in these buildings is evidence that many skilled artisans worked the Stagville plantation. This fact is further underscored by a visit to the Great Barn. Likewise built by slave labor, it was thought to be the largest agricultural building in North Carolina upon its completion in 1860. Measuring 132 feet by 33 feet, the barn sheltered 70 to 75 mules.

Thank D2958ZXgarym
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 13 January 2018 via mobile

it is crucial that Americans remember their history - and no better place to do that than Stagville, which spans the history of America - from Independence to Brown v. Board of Education. Guided tours (look up schedule) take you through home of largest plantation owner in NC, preserved slave quarters from 1851. Definitely a hidden gem, worth a trip.

1  Thank res927
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed 4 January 2018

When looking for things to do in N. Carolina I recommend stopping here. It is truly a historic experience. It is amazing to see how people lived in the 1800's.

Thank FPAdventurer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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