I love historic sites…now. As a kid, not so much. I remember wrinkling my nose because they were sooooooo boring. Yet today I am glad my parents and school system force-fed me education and a sense of history. Now I can appreciate the history and wealth of the Triangle area. In Hillsborough I really enjoyed HOST, Burwell School Historic Site, and Ayr Mount. In Durham we’ve already been to the Duke Homestead and now I am pleased to tell you a little about Bennett Place.
Bennett Place is the spot of a very important event in the Civil War: the surrender of the Southern Armies under General Johnston. Even though this event happened post-Appomattox Court House surrender and did not involve a battle, it is the largest troop surrender of the Civil War. Since Union General Sherman was in Raleigh and Confederate General Johnston was in Greensboro meeting at the Bennett farm, a civilian farm representative of a typical family in those days, located in Durham suited nicely. There is even a Duke involved, but you have to visit the farm to find out how!
When you visit you will enter a nice visitor’s center that has a very small museum in it (nothing hands-on here) and also a well done 15-minute movie explaining the significance of the site. Every hour from 10 am – 2 pm there are guided tours on site as well (call ahead the day to confirm availability since this can change).
This site is certainly more for older kids who can appreciate and understand the significance of the location (even if they do still wrinkle their noses). There is a reconstructed old farmhouse where kids can get a glimpse into life on a farm in the 1860s (just looking, no touching).
There is a lot of outdoors space here – over 30 acres of land. There is a Nature Trail to explore and a huge group of picnic tables in a nice shady spot. Not only can you walk the same path legendary men from the Civil War walked, but you can run around and shout here, too. Bring a jogger with off-road tires or your carrier for the little ones.
Bennett Place is very popular with school field trips so you may want to call ahead before you go on an outing here or, alternatively, enjoy the other kids frolicking about and learning, too. I personally think the key to a good Bennett Place trip with kids will be to find a special event at the grounds, such as a reenactment or festival, and go to one of those. There are always fun and interesting Civil War events happened at Bennett Place – stay tuned to their website (see below) for more information.
Admittance in to Bennett Place is always free; it is closed Sundays and Mondays. This is a popular spot with Civil War buffs by the way (it is on the Civil War Trail for North Carolina) so be prepared to learn from even the casual tourist and don’t be afraid to ask questions of the staff here- they are very knowledgeable!
4409 Bennett Memorial Rd.
Durham, NC 27705
Phone: (919) 383-4345
Tuesday-Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Closed Sunday, Monday, and most major state holidays.