Ships along New Bern Waterfront, mid-1800's
Founded in 1710 at the confluence of the Trent and Neuse rivers, New Bern was settled by Swiss and German
adventurers led by Baron Christopher de Graffenried from Bern,
. New Bern is the second oldest town in the state. Royal Governor William Tryon made this seaport his
colonial capitol and residence, Tryon Palace
, was built in 1770.
A major port and trading center in the 1800's, New Bern was captured and occupied by the Union Army after a fierce
battle on March 14, 1862.
New Bern has three historic districts with homes, stores, and churches dating as far back as the early 18th century. In fact,
there are 36 individual listings and more than 150 sites included in the National Register of Historic Places.
History abounds around every corner, with over 150 landmarks
-some dating to the 18th century- representing a variety of architectural periods.
Religion has always played an important role in city history, and church graveyards chronicle the lives of the early settlers.
Christ Church parish was established in 1715, and the first church building was constructed in 1750. King George II of
England gave the church a silver communion service, a prayer book, and a Bible in 1752 that are still in use. The second
church was destroyed in a fire that swept away several buildings in the late 1870's, and today's church was built on the old
foundations. Stones in the graveyard date back before 1800. First Presbyterian Church, established in 1817, was used as a
hospital and lookout during the Civil War. The belfry still shows carved names and initials of Union soldiers. One of the
founding members of the church was an African American woman. Cedar Grove Cemetery has the graves of Confederates who died in the Battle of New Bern, and the National Cemetery holds the remains of Union soldiers and veterans of later wars.
There are several fine museums. The Firemen's Museum has restored equipment and displays honoring more than two
centuries of firefighters. The New Bern Academy, built circa 1806, is the oldest chartered school in the state and is now
a museum that houses artifacts that focus on education, architecture, and the Civil War.