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Tryon Palace complex among NC historic sites damaged by Hurricane Florence

The gates of Tryon Palace in New Bern, N.C., a restore mansion that served as the first N.C. colonial and state capitol, from 1770-94.
The gates of Tryon Palace in New Bern, N.C., a restore mansion that served as the first N.C. colonial and state capitol, from 1770-94. Myrtle Beach Sun News

Add Tryon Palace in New Bern to the growing list of North Carolina historic sites damaged by Hurricane Florence.

The complex, which sits in one of the most heavily flooded parts of the the state, was North Carolina’s first permanent capitol and includes a restored “palace” that served as home to the royal governor in the late 1770s.

It hopes to reopen later this week, officials said.

All the historic buildings on site sustained some level of water damage, broken windows and torn-off shutters, said a statement issued Monday by Tryon Palace. Many downed trees were also discovered after the storm, officials said.

The site is among several historic locations that sustained damage during the Hurricane, including the Cape Lookout Lighthouse and the Portsmouth Village, a historic fishing village on Cape Lookout National Seashore that dates to the 1700s. Repairs of both are underway.

Tryon Palace had nearly 250,000 visitors last year, according to a N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources report.

A decision will be made midweek on when the site can be reopened, site officials said in a statement.

“Museum collections fared well in the storm,” said a statement issued by Alyson Rhodes-Murphy, director of Tryon Palace’s collections. “Only a few collection objects received any damage, which can be repaired...The one surprising incident was the damage to a crystal chandelier in the Stanly House that was caused by an acorn blown by the high winds through a broken window.”

Much of the historic collection was kept safe because staff packed it up before Hurricane Florence made landfall on Sept. 14, said a statement on the Tryon Palace web site. A security staff also stayed on site through the storm to protect the collection, said a statement.

New Bern, 115 miles southeast of Raleigh, experienced some of the worst flooding associated with Hurricane Florence. The town sits on a peninsula between two rivers, which rose by 10 feet in a matter of hours on Sept. 13, according to a Sept. 14 Charlotte Observer article. At least 200 people had to be rescued during the flash floods, the Observer reported.

Tryon Palace officials say the historic site is “a centerpiece of downtown New Bern (and) our reopening will be another signal that New Bern is open for business.”

The North Carolina History Center, also in New Bern, saw “unprecedented flooding, with water from the Trent River reaching the doors,” said a statement. The water damaged entryways to the building, officials said.

The main entrance has been repaired and other entrances remain closed until repairs can be completed, officials said in a press release.

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Mark Price: 704-358-5245, @markprice_obs
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