Tryon Palace

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A place where Royal Governors ruled, patriots rebelled, and a new state was born . . .

Tryon Palace’s mission is to engage present and future generations in the history of North Carolina from early settlement and development of statehood through the mid-twentieth century by collecting, interpreting and preserving objects, buildings, landscapes and events that enrich understanding of the making of our state and nation.

The centerpiece of our historic site was also the grandest public building in all the colonies. Royal Governor William Tryon and his family brought architect John Hawks from London to design and build the Georgian-style structure. Completed in 1770, Tryon Palace served as the first permanent capitol of North Carolina and home to the Tryon family.

Stroll down our garden paths and step back into a bygone era. Tryon Palace features 16 acres of gardens and is the reconstructed colonial capitol of North Carolina. The Palace gardens were designed by noted landscape architect Morley Jeffers Williams in the 1950s and represent the formal garden style of 18th-century Britain.

Surrounding the Palace are several historic homes and buildings that help tell the story of life in historic New Bern, including the Dixon House, Stanly House, and the Hay House. The John Wright Stanly House (c. 1780) reflects the wealth of its owner, whose merchant ships raided British vessels to aid the American cause during the Revolutionary War.

Our new North Carolina History Center has revolutionized the visitor encounter at the state’s premier historic site and sets a new standard for the museum experience. History Navigator tours using portable interactive devices add an exciting new dimension to our historic sites. Rotating exhibitions and the wide variety of interactive historical activities keep the experience fresh and exciting with each visit.

What can I see and do at Tryon Palace?
There are seven major buildings, three galleries and 16 acres of gardens for you to visit. There are historical craft demonstrations to watch, and historical characters to meet. An orientation video will tell you more about the people who once lived here.

Are the tours guided or self-guided?
Tours in the Governor’s Palace are always guided. The historic houses are primarily self-guided. If guided tours are your preference, please contact us prior to your visit to learn the schedule for guided tours in the John Wright Stanly House, the Robert Hay House and the George W. Dixon House.

Two of the buildings, the Kitchen Office and the Stable Office, are always self-guided. The three galleries in the North Carolina History Center and the gardens are also self-guided. A free gardens booklet with a map and historical information is available at the North Carolina History Center Ticket Desk.

How much time should I allow?
To fully enjoy your visit, plan to spend at least half a day at Tryon Palace. Here is an estimate of the time for each area:

Orientation video: 20 minutes
The Governor’s Palace (guided tour): 45 minutes
Kitchen Office (self-guided tour with craft demonstrations): 15-30 minutes
John Wright Stanly House (guided tour): 30 minutes; (self-guided): 15 minutes
George W. Dixon House (guided tour): 30 minutes; (self guided): 15 minutes
Gardens (self-guided): 20-60 minutes; guided tours are available to group tours
Robert Hay House (self-guided): 15-30 minutes
Regional History Museum (self-guided): 15-30 minutes
Pepsi Family Center (self-guided): 60-90 minutes
Duffy Exhibit Gallery (self-guided): 15-30 minutes

You may visit the buildings and gardens in any order you wish. While at the History Center, be sure to visit the Museum Store and enjoy a relaxing lunch or dinner at Lawson’s Landing, the riverwalk café.

Admission passes available at the North Carolina History Center Main Entrance. Reservations are recommended for groups of 10 or more. Call 252-639-3524 for more information.

How far apart are the buildings?
Most of the major buildings are within a one-block radius of the Tryon Palace Visitor Center. The gardens are spread out over the 16-acre site.

How should I begin my visit?
Come to the North Carolina History Center to purchase tickets and view the orientation video.

Check for the daily activity schedule, including craft demonstrations and events featuring historical characters.

How can I help preserve these historic sites?
You can help us by not touching or leaning on furnishings, and by not bringing food, drink, candy or gum into the historic buildings. Please stay with your guide while on tour.