Written by: Triveni Raghavan
âThe world is a book and those who do not travel read only one pageâ â St. Augustine
When we make travel plans, we often look at the most popular destinations while missing the hidden gems close by. One such destination is nearby Hillsborough, just 20 minutes away. As part of the CLG series, SangHee Jeong of IHouse, organized a trip to this quaint little town, rich in history, culture and beauty. It was a grey, cloudy morning so we trooped into the vans armed with umbrellas, rain jackets, cameras and the itinerary for the day.
Guided Walking Tour
Our trip began with a guided walking tour of Historic Hillsborough. The town was founded in 1754 as the Orange County seat. It is located where the Great Indian Trading Path crossed the Eno river. The tour started at the Alexander Dickson House (1790), known as the âLast Headquarters of Confederacyâ, which also serves as the Orange County Visitors Center.
After trying to assimilate more than two and a half centuries of history through maps and exhibits, we headed to the Regulator Marker, the hanging site of colonial protestors. Then, we visited the Hughes Academy (mid â late 1800s), a small private school whose graduates were accepted at UNC without examination. We walked past William Reedâs Ordinary (1754) that was a tavern, the old County Courthouse (1844) that has a clock tower and the old Town Cemetery (1757), where William Hooper, who signed the Declaration of Independence was buried.
Our final stop was the Orange County Historical Museum. On entering, one can see the Orange County Timeline of important events from 1650 to 2000. Then, a quick stop at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts, owned and operated by artists. After 1Â½ hours of sightseeing, legs and stomachs started complaining. So, we split into groups and headed in different directions to try out Hillsboroughâs unique dining and shopping. I lunched at Weaver Street Market (their Vegan chocolate cake is delicious), which is a âcommunity owned cooperative grocery storeâ.
Tour of Ayr Mount Historic Site
After lunch and a little rest, we headed straight to Ayr Mount Historic Site that includes a 19th century house museum and almost 300 acres of woodlands. Some of us took a guided tour of the house, while others enjoyed the Poetâs Walk, which is a one-mile trail that runs along the bank of the Eno river.
Ayr Mount is a federal-era plantation house built in 1815 by William Kirkland, and later purchased, restored and donated for public benefit by Richard Jenrette. Our guide, Bill told us about the ancestry of the owners and the archaeology of that site. In the house, the brick construction, high ceilings, transverse hallway, ornate fireplaces, huge mahogany tables, walnut shelves, grand piano, old time wavy glass windows, the various portraits and artwork (etchings of North Carolina architecture including Duke Chapel) all vie for attention.
We left Hillsborough with the satisfaction of having seen new places and made new friends.
Thanks, SangHee and Annette for making this trip so enjoyable.