The Piedmont

Central North Carolina, home to our fertile fields, rich Southern heritage and thriving metropolises. Join Carolina Preserves on a journey to our heartland to meet some of the state's most dedicated preservationists and influential artists.

Lee Smith, a renowned author and lecturer, talks about what it means to be Southern. From our culture to our speech, Southern life is unique.

Judge Henry Frye, the first African-American chief justice in North Carolina, reminisces about growing up on a tobacco farm at harvest time.

Vernon Owens became a Jugtown potter at the age of 18. He has been working as a potter ever since, preserving the traditional techniques used since the 19th century.

Shirley Caesar has sung before presidents and led prayer for the United States Senate. She now works as a minister in her own church as she carries on the mantle of the first lady of gospel.



In the 1700s a cup was a cup and a bowl just a bowl. In Seagrove, they still make pottery with the traditional methods, but now those same cups and bowls are works of art. Take a day and learn all about pottery. Watch the potters turn, glaze and fire their unique creations that hearken back to a simpler time. Scores of potters and potteries have made Seagrove their home since the 18th century, and it remains one of the largest groups of potters working with traditional methods.

Contact: (336) 873-7304

Cedarock Historical Farm

This historical farm preserves the techniques and equipment of 19th century farming. Visitors to the farm can see restored equipment from the 1830s and learn more about daily farming life in the 19th century. This living farm, open year-round, has horses, cows and other animals common to North Carolina in the 1800s.

Contact: (910) 570-6769

Reed Gold Mine

During its heyday in the mid-1800s, gold mining was second only to farming in the number of North Carolinians it employed. And the Reed gold mine was one of the most productive mines in the South. It produced thousands of pounds of gold including some of the largest gold nuggets ever discovered in North America. Today, visitors to the gold mine can see how miners worked in the 19th century and can pan for gold themselves.

Contact: (704) 786-8337

Duke Homestead State Historic Site and Tobacco Museum

Learn more about tobacco and the Dukes at this museum located in Durham. Housed in the original buildings used by the Dukes, this homestead museum features exhibits on the origin of tobacco farming in North Carolina and the story of the Duke family. Using animatronics, modern multimedia techniques and extensive archives, the museum explores tobacco farming, its manufacture and popularization in the 1800s.

Contact: (919) 477-5498

North Carolina Museum of History

The North Carolina Museum of History located in Raleigh, with regional museums in Elizabeth City, Fayetteville and Old Fort, preserves the unique culture and heritage of North Carolina. Featuring exhibits on health and healing, the Civil War, folklife and the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, the museum holds hundreds of thousands of artifacts that honor the diverse background and rich cultural heritage of North Carolina.

Contact: (919) 715-0200

Spivey's Corner

Once every year, on the third Saturday in June, a small town swells from a population of 49 to 10,000 as people travel from all over the country to attend the National Hollerin' Contest. Begun in 1969, this contest has celebrated the lost art of hollerin' for more than 40 years. It's the original long-distance call, some hollerin' can be heard as far as three mile away. Over the years, the National Hollerin' Contest has evolved and now includes contests for women calling their men in from the fields, a bell pepper contest, pageants and countless games.

The Eno River State Park

Beginning in northwest Orange county, the Eno flows 33 miles from its headwaters to the east until it joins with the Little and Flat rivers to create the Neuse. This unique nature preserve winds through urban settings protected by state and city parklands providing a wonderful reserve for birdwatchers, canoeists, photographers and hikers. The state and local governments have joined forces with the Eno River Association to protect this stretch of river from urban pressures and preserve a piece of nature in the heart of North Carolina.

Contact: (919) 383-1686

Lee Smith
Southern novelist


"When anybody asks me, 'Why does North Carolina have so many writers?' this is what I tell them: 'Because so many of our writers teach.' I am proud to be a part of that tradition. And when NCSU's Humanities Extension Program sent me all around the state to teach writing in places where I'd never spent any time, such as Trenton and Goldsboro, I gained a new appreciation of how varied North Carolina is, and how many different kinds of stories North Carolinians have to tell."


Lee Smith has given a distinctive voice to Southern literature through the many characters populating her novels. She was inspired to write first by hearing and loving stories, often told on a comfortable porch by an aunt or uncle. Now she defines for us new ways to look at our history, laugh at ourselves and enjoy who we are.

Back to top

Judge Henry Frye
Chief Justice, North Carolina Supreme


"The farm was the heart of my youth. As a boy, I enjoyed working with the grown-ups, even topping tobacco. What I did not like was suckering tobacco: breaking off the stems that grew on the sides. The juice made you itch. We wore long-sleeve shirts to prevent the tobacco juice from gluing the hair on our arms to our skin."


Court Judge Henry Frye was the first black justice to serve on the state Supreme Court. He has also served in the North Carolina House of Representatives and the North Carolina Senate. His long background in public service is a foundation for his lively perspective on society and culture.

Back to top

Vernon Owens
Potter and owner of Jugtown Pottery

"I like to work quietly, in silence, with one or two people. I never liked a disagreement. The most important thing in my life is this: grow up to respect other people. If you are doing a job, do it in a decent way. If you cannot, then say you cannot. Some mornings, I go down to make pots and I am not in the right mood to make pots. So I will knock off and do something else: a mechanical job or spending time in our museum looking at pots.When I make a piece of pottery and someone is happy and appreciates it...well, that gives me true satisfaction."


Vernon Owens is carrying on his family's tradition of making pottery at Jugtown, one of the original pottery shops around Seagrove, NC. Along with his wife, Pam, and children, he creates the distinctive Jugtown style of pot, using the clay, the glazes and the methods that haven't changed much since his grandfather's day.

Back to top

Shirley A. Caesar
Grammy-winning recording artist and minister


"This state bears the imprints of my loved ones, and this grounds me spiritually. My mother was from our mountains and loved them; they held her memories. I renew myself by driving along North Carolina highways, singing full-throttle in the car. I raise my eyes up towards the west, and sing of the joy and pain and struggle that composed my mother's life. Driving towards her home, I realize that North Carolina has it all: mountain ranges, farmlands, beaches, beautiful highways and scenery. Whether visiting our state, or only driving through, there will be long-lasting, wonderful memories that will linger with you."


Shirley Caesar brings an energy and passion to music and is widely known for her performances of it. Through her ministry work with her church, and her singing, she lives a life devoted to the preservation of the spiritual side of life.

Back to top