Historic Resources and Museum Program Collection
Since its creation in 2012, the Historic Resources and Museum Program (HRM Program) has the express purpose of protecting and promoting identified museum and historical resource facilities, programs, and assets within the City of Raleigh.
In addition to supervising nine historic properties, the HRM Program manages more than 20,000 decorative art objects pertaining to local history and material culture. The collection includes but is not limited to furniture, ceramics, silver, fine art, photographs, archives, amusements, glass, and textiles dating from the 17th century to the present day.
Many of the objects furnish more than 25 rooms, galleries, or spaces in and around our historic sites. The HRMP aims to research and present the most authentic settings, exhibits, and programs possible, from the wealthy land owner, to the African American doctor, to the amusements that have been enjoyed by generations.
Our online database allows for previewing many of our objects before visiting any of our sites.
Raleigh in 25 Objects
Raleigh in 25 Objects is a collaboration of many of the staff across the Historic Resources and Museum Program. The 25 different objects shown here are favorites of the staff with connections to Raleigh and the historic sites we manage across the City. They will be posted here on a rolling basis throughout 2018, so check back often for new objects.
Below you will find out more about each object.
Object ID: MP.2005.011.001
Written by: Lisa Raschke, Museum Educator at Mordecai Historic Park
This is a chandelier, sometimes called a gasolier, that originally used natural gas instead of candles. This gasolier is made of polished brass and features an oak leaf and acorn pattern, a nod to Raleigh’s nickname, “The City of Oaks”. From 1785 – 1870’s the Lane Family and then the Mordecai Family mostly relied on candles for light. Gas was added to the house in the 1870’s through this gasolier and a handful of other gas lamps.
Gas lighting first came to North Carolina in 1854 when gas streetlights were installed in Wilmington by Wilmington Gas & Light. In 1858, Raleigh Gas Light Company followed suit and brought gas streetlights to Raleigh. That year also saw the addition of gas lighting to buildings under construction, such as Dix Hill (Dorothea Dix). And in 1859, the General Assembly voted to add gas lighting in the Executive Mansion.
Gas lighting was popular for Raleigh’s business community and citizens, at first, because it was a controllable light source that extended the number of working hours in the day. However, its decline was swift due to performance issues and the emergence of electricity.
Safety was a major concern. With gas lighting came increased reports of fire, explosions, suffocations, and burns. There were also problems with the consistency in the gas pressure. Gas lines were added in quickly to fill the demand for lighting in homes, and problems arose from the unregulated workmanship on the lines.
With the invention of Thomas Edison’s light bulb in 1879, the country saw a switch from gas to electric lighting. Electricity first came to North Carolina in 1881 at the Arista Cotton Mill in what is today Winston Salem, and spread throughout the State as businesses and families converted their gas lighting to electric.
The chandelier is on display in the Parlor of the Mordecai House.
Object: Dog Tag
Object ID: RCM2009.122.01
Written by: Ashley Fenoglio, Museum Educator at City of Raleigh Museum
This year marks the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day. At the eleventh hour, on the eleventh day, of the eleventh month (1100 on November 11, 1918), an armistice between the Allies (Britain, France, Russia, United States, and Italy) and the Central Powers (Germany, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Ottoman Empire, and Bulgaria) went into effect, creating a ceasefire and ultimately ending World War I.
This World War I dog tag belonged to 2nd Lieutenant W.D. Martin, an Engineer in the North Carolina National Guard's Coast Artillery Corps. He was a Raleigh native and 1915 graduate of the North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, more commonly known today as North Carolina State University. Unfortunately, for him, he was not sent overseas and did not see any action. These tags would have been worn either around the neck, or attached to a belt loop as a means of identifying Lieutenant Martin had he been wounded or killed in battle.
Today, soldiers are still given dog tags as part of their uniform. They do look much different than their World War I counterparts and contain much more information. World War I dog tags stated a soldier's name, unit, and hometown. Today, dog tags contain a soldier's name, social security number, blood type, and religious preference, and are printed on two identical tags that are worn at the same time
Lieutenant Martin’s tag is not currently on display and is housed within the City of Raleigh Museum’s collection.
Object ID: RCM2017.029.006
Written by: Mary Vinciguerra, Collections Specialist
Women have been wearing hats as far back as the Middle Ages. The progression of styles has evolved from century to century as well as within a time period. This is a white, lace fashion hat from the 1900s that was sold in the Ivey-Taylor department store in Raleigh, North Carolina. Women wore hats to emphasize and compliment their hairstyles. They also wore hats to reflect eras of time. During World War I, fashion hats were simplistic because large ornate head garments were viewed as a distraction from the war and therefore unpatriotic. However, throughout World War II on both sides of the Atlantic, hats exploded with veils, artificial flowers, and feathers. They were said to be resistance pieces during the Nazi occupation.
Ivey-Taylor was a merge between Joseph Benjamin Ivey’s J.B. Ivey & Company and John T. Taylor’s Taylor Furnishing Company in 1949. They established a store in downtown Raleigh located on 123 Fayetteville Street and another in the North Raleigh region of North Hills. The downtown store remained open for a few years, but closed in 1968 and the building was demolished the following year. In 1980, the Marshall Field Company bought the Ivey’s chain and later merged with Dillard Department Stores. Ivey-Taylor is known as Dillard’s since the latter merge.
The object is not currently on display and is part of the City of Raleigh Museum Collection.
Object ID: MP.2005.011.052
Written by: Hannah Marley, Museum Educator at Mordecai Historic Park
Named from the French verb for ‘to stare’ or ‘to have one’s eye on,’ the lorgnette was a must-have fashion accessory for women in the 18th and 19th centuries. Essentially a pair of glasses on a handle, these pieces could be simple or ornate and were made of materials like tortoiseshell, ivory, or precious metals, decorated with gems or carvings. Many of them could be folded into the handle for easy carrying. Early lorgnettes were used like opera glasses and were popular in the French court, used by figures like Marie Antoinette and Madame de Pompadour. Over time they became more common as everyday eyewear to help with vision.
This design is made of metal carved in a braided pattern and has a hinge to allow the lenses to fold over the handle. Similar lorgnettes can be spotted in numerous novels, including Madame Bovary and The Marvelous Land of Oz. The popularity of these glasses for socialite women continued into the early 20th century, making them a perfect fit for any lady from Downton Abbey’s Violet Crawley to the fashionable Pattie Mordecai.
The lorgnette on display in the parlor of the Mordecai house was donated by a descendant of Ellen Mordecai, who lived in Raleigh and Durham when the lorgnette was popular.
Object ID: PHM2012.01.1640
Written by: Alli Mosco, Museum Educator at City of Raleigh Museum
This small light blue tube is labeled “Camille Cream Mascara Black” on the front, with directions on the back to, “Spread thin line of Camille Cream Mascara on brush. Rub into bristles. No water necessary. Apply evenly to upper lashes with upward strokes – to lower lashes with downward strokes. Replace cap tightly.” The tube is thin which indicates it has been used and is probably close to empty.
Mascara became a popular cosmetic starting as early as the 1920’s, with the early development of make-up and the cosmetic industry. Previously, “painting” your face was associated with prostitutes and dancing girls. Cosmetics became more mainstream in the 20’s and the industry grew into the 30’s and 40’s.
While cake mascara was initially the preferred form of mascara, it did need to be wetted before use and it was not waterproof. Cream mascara was one solution to these problems, as it was slightly more water resistant and nearly ready to use. It merely had to be applied to a brush, rubbed in, and applied to the eyelashes. Mascara is still a staple in the cosmetic industry, though it has evolved considerably since these early versions were produced.
Evelyn and Ruth Pope had an extensive cosmetics collection, and this item and others are currently on display at the Pope House Museum in the bedroom on the second floor.
Object ID: MP.2005.023.321
Written by: Douglas R. Porter, Jr., Historic Sites Program Director
Tradition holds that a young tailor named Andrew Johnson made this c. 1820s morning coat in his shop in Greenville, Tennessee. Of course, today we mostly remember Johnson for his political career, particularly his checkered tenure as 17th President of the United States during the early days of Reconstruction following the Civil War. What is lesser known, however, is that Johnson was a successful tailor who climbed the ladder from apprentice to employee to entrepreneur. Johnson eventually sold his business to focus on politics. Yet he continued to make his own clothes, and rumor holds that he even tailored suits for his cabinet members!
The morning coat interests me on different levels. Above all, it is the product of training and labor. In that sense, it makes Johnson more relatable by shedding light on his common background and ability to make something tangible. The coat helps broaden our understanding of Andrew Johnson by pivoting the conversation from President Johnson (a top-down political history approach) to “everyman” Johnson (a bottom-up social history approach). Beyond the coat’s association with Johnson, the garment is also an excellent example of early nineteenth century craftsmanship and male fashion.
The morning coat is occasionally on display in the Andrew Johnson birthplace located at Mordecai Historic Park.
Object ID: RCM1993.04.02
Written by: Tiffany Godwin, Museum Educator at City of Raleigh Museum and Pope House
These are various nails from Isaac Hunter’s Tavern. Isaac Hunter’s Tavern was known as a place for its hospitality and good times from 1745-1823. According to the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, it was located on a major stage road in what was then Johnston County. The establishment was an important factor in Raleigh being named the capital of North Carolina.
During the time of Isaac Hunter’s Tavern, government officials in North Carolina were realizing that New Bern was not the best location for the state’s capital. They decided that the capital needed to be in the center of the state so that it may be easier accessible. Due to the tavern’s popularity, the Constitutional Convention decided to meet there in 1788. The government officials enjoyed the tavern so much, that they mandated the new North Carolina state capital be within ten miles of the tavern.
The original Isaac Hunter’s Tavern is no longer standing; however, a new bar has been created and shares the same name. The new Isaac Hunter’s Tavern was dedicated to honor the original tavern. It first opened its doors in 2004. After their closure in 2014, they returned in 2016.
These nails are part of the City of Raleigh Museum collection, but are not on display at this time.
Object ID: PHM2012.01.1639
Written by: Alli Mosco, Museum Educator at City of Raleigh Museum and Pope House
This small receptacle was known as a silent butler, ash butler, or purse ashtray. It appears to be made of brass, no bigger than two inches wide, with a woman’s cameo over a powder blue background and a small handle. When opened, it is empty but for a tiny curved tray made of the same metal.
This miniature ashtray was probably made and used in the 1950s, though receptacles of its kind had been in use for quite some time. Most silent butlers were used as crumb catchers after dining, or to sweep ash into while smoking. The smaller, more decorative pieces were more frequently called ash butlers or purse ashtrays specifically, because they were small enough to fit in a lady’s purse and were commonly associated with cigarettes. At this time, people did not recognize the dangers of smoking cigarettes and the habit was not as frowned upon in society. These miniature trays are evidence of a time when even the most basic utilitarian objects were created with great detail and care, with decoration in mind. Now that we know the health effects of smoking, the activity is not portrayed in the same manner, as glamorous or attractive, and items like this are rarely used.
Ruth and Evelyn Pope had several of these purse ashtrays in their possession, along with decorative cigarette cases and match books.
This object and others like it are currently on display at the Pope House Museum in the bedroom on the second floor.