Must-see literary sites in North Carolina

June 8, 2013 

Georgann Eubanks is the author of “Literary Trails of the North Carolina Mountains” and “Literary Trails of the North Carolina Piedmont.” “Literary Trails of Eastern North Carolina,” the final volume in her trilogy, came out in April ($22; UNC Press). Each book has 18 tours. We asked her about her favorite sites across the state.

Carl Sandburg Home

Flat Rock

Called Connemara, this is the first National Historic Site dedicated to a poet. “The house is kept as if the Sandburg family went out for a hike, so you see the memorabilia and junk of his life – manuscripts in cardboard boxes … just stacks of stuff. Descendants of his wife’s goats are still born there every year. Sandburg is the poet who wrote ‘Fog,’ and there’s quite often fog on this mountain homestead.”

Info: Admission free for grounds, trails and barn. Guided house tours are $5 for adults; $3 for seniors (62 and older); children under 15 free. Open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. year-round. 81 Carl Sandberg Lane, Flat Rock. 828-693-4178 or

Thomas Wolfe Home and Homewood house


“Wolfe is arguably North Carolina’s most famous writer, and in his mother’s boardinghouse there are still toothbrushes in the bathroom! It’s the place where F. Scott Fitzgerald tried to get a room … but Wolfe’s mother turned him out because the smell of liquor was on his breath. The Homewood house, near Riverside Cemetery, is the home built by the doctor who established Highland Hospital, where Zelda Fitzgerald – Scott’s wife – was institutionalized. She was a patient at Highland when it burned down; she died in the fire. The only thing left is the doctor’s house. Lee Smith, one of North Carolina’s best novelists, has a new book about Zelda in Asheville.”

Info: Admission to Wolfe Home is $5 for adults; $2 for students. Open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. House tours offered at the bottom of each hour. 52 N. Market St., Asheville. 828-253-8304 or Homewood house is at 19 Zillicoa St., Asheville.

Pauli Murray sites


Murray was raised in Durham by her grandparents; she had a law degree, was one of the first female Episcopalian priests, and wrote poetry and important memoirs about growing up African-American in the ‘Jim Crow’ South. In the last few years, Durham has put up murals honoring her. Her grandparents are buried in Maplewood Cemetery. Their graves are practically in a ditch below the mausoleum belonging to the Duke family – a very visual testament to the challenge of being a black woman in her era.”


Cool Spring Tavern


“This is (believed to be) the oldest house in Fayetteville and is where Carson McCullers finished ‘The Heart is a Lonely Hunter’ and wrote ‘Reflections in a Golden Eye.’ Another destination is the Charles Chesnutt Library at Fayetteville State. Chesnutt was one of the most important early African-American writers after the Civil War.”

Info: 119 N. Cool Spring St., Fayetteville. 910-433-1612 or Charles W. Chesnutt Library, 1200 Murchison Road, Fayetteville. 910-672-1111 or Check website for hours.

Burwell School Historic Site


“Elizabeth Keckley was Mary Todd Lincoln’s dressmaker and is portrayed fairly prominently in the ‘Lincoln’ movie. But she spent her youth at Burwell School as a slave, escaped and went north, and wrote a memoir, ‘Behind the Scenes or Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House.’ ”

Info: Free. Open 11 a.m.-4 p.m. and 1-4 p.m. Sunday except between end of December through January. 319 N. Churton St., Hillsborough. 919-732-7451 or

Historic Bath

“It’s one of the oldest settlements in North Carolina and where novelist Edna Ferber came to immerse herself in local theater – a floating barge with a theater on board. It went from town to town on the Pamlico River, docking so locals could see plays ( She spent a few days on the boat, and then went to France to use this as the inspiration for ‘Show Boat’ – which later became a musical that became a movie. Bath is also one of the childhood homes of Suzanne Newton, a popular young-adult writer.”

John Bordsen, Charlotte Observer

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