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Best Landmarks in Raleigh/Durham

By: Cityseeker
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Duke University

Named after the family of industrialist James Duke, this private, independent research university sprawls over three campuses, and is an icon of research, culture, and education. The university attracts visitors for its Collegiate Gothic Architecture, the highlight of which is Duke Chapel, an active interdenominational chapel in the center of the school's campus. Other highlights include the Lemur Center–a rare and endangered prosimian primate sanctuary—a Medical Center, the Perkins Library, the Sarah B. Duke Gardens, and the Duke Forest and Golf Club. Student-led tours, and maps for self-guided tours, are available through the undergraduate admissions office.

Durham, NC, United States
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Duke University Chapel

This chapel built in the center of Duke University in the Collegiate Gothic style was completed in 1932. Its tower soars 210 feet (65 meters) into the sky, and its founder, James B. Duke, felt that its inspirational presence would influence campus music, faith, and learning. Fine ornamentation, stained glass, and four beautifully crafted organs, including a Flentrop, or "Bach's Organ," draw thousands of admirers to the chapel every year. Free, guided tours of the chapel are offered every Sunday after an 11a worship service.

Durham, NC, United States
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Duke Homestead State Historic Site

This National Historic Landmark has the first homes, farms, and factories where the Duke family grew and processed tobacco, thereby founding the largest tobacco company in world in the 19th Century. In 1931, the farm was purchased by Duke University, and in 1966, the homestead was designated a historic landmark by the National Park Service. It became a North Carolina State Historic Site in 1974. Visitors can see the restored four-room Duke family homestead, with tobacco bars and historical artifacts. The museum offers exhibits about the history of tobacco farming and processing.

Durham, NC, United States
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Joel Lane Museum House

Colonel Joel Lane played a key role in North Carolina's transition from county to state and Raleigh's capital city status. Later known as "The Father of Raleigh," he constructed this establishment in the 1760s in a primarily rural location, making it a recipient of admiration. Owned and restored by the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America, the manor houses a unique collection of artifacts, paintings and furniture that archetypes 18th-century living. The historic site has accolades aplenty to its credit, and guided tours to the museum attract throngs of locals, tourists, historians and educational organizations. The manicured lawns and verdant gardens make for a serene backdrop.

Raleigh, NC, United States
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North Carolina State Capitol

The North Carolina State Capitol building is the former house of the North Carolina legislature and the current home of the state’s governor’s offices. Dominating a central block of downtown Raleigh, the building was completed in 1840 and is built in the Greek Revival style. The North Carolina State Capitol Foundation offers guided tours of the building and a program of lectures, children’s history classes, concerts, and exhibits to the public free of charge.

Raleigh, NC, United States
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North Carolina Executive Mansion

The North Carolina Executive Mansion, a fine structure of brick built in the Queen Anne style, is the official residence of the Governor of North Carolina and his or her family. The mansion is home to historical artifacts and paintings of local note, and has been a Raleigh social, political, and cultural hub since its founding in 1891. Guided tours of the mansion and its gardens are given in the spring and fall on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and holiday open houses are held in December. Admission is free. but tours must be booked in advance.

Raleigh, NC, United States
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Historic Oakwood Cemetery

Established in 1869, Historic Oakwood Cemetery is located in the Victorian neighborhood within stumbling distance of iconic city landmarks like the North Carolina State Capitol and Governor's Mansion. With a belief that pays respect to the dead while celebrating life, the 102 acres (41 hectares) of sprawling landscape is an archetypal 19th-century garden cemetery and final resting place for over 20,000 Raleigh citizens and political dignitaries including senators, war veterans and mayors. Henry Mordecai allocated an area to commemorate Confederate soldiers, adjacent to the House of Memory, an ode to men and women serving the nation. The verdant park of oaks and maples is punctuated with monumental tomb stones, sculptures, statues, inscriptions and carvings.

Raleigh, NC, United States
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Bennett Place State Historic Site

This simple, restored farmhouse is a prominent national historic landmark. Here, generals Joseph E. Johnston and William T. Sherman signed the largest confederate troop surrender of the American Civil War, thereby ending it. Now, it is known as the Bennett Place State Historic Site, where visitors can enjoy the visitor center, restored historical structures, monuments, nature trails, and picnic areas.

Durham, NC, United States
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Historic Yates Mill County Park

Historic Yates Mill County Park is a 174-acre (70 hectares) wildlife refuge and environmental research center with open lands and a small pond offering visitors fishing, hiking, and bird-watching opportunities. Yates Mill is the last operating, water-powered gristmill in North Carolina’s Capital County. Mill tours and corn grinding demonstrations are offered throughout the year, as are seasonal educational and holiday programs. The visitor center sells finished stone-ground cornmeal and vintage postcards as souvenirs.

Raleigh, NC, United States
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Stagville

Stagville was once part of a 30,000-acre (12,140 hectares) slave plantation, one of the largest North Carolina. Today, the Stagville grounds span 71 acres (29 hectares) and are home to Horton Grove, the historic 18th Century Georgian family plantation home, a timber-framed barn, and a graveyard. Visitors can explore the grounds and surrounding structures on guided and self-guided tours, although the buildings are open only to guided tours. Reservations are recommended.

Durham, NC, United States
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