Historic Resources and Museum Program Collection

Last updated Sep. 06, 2018 - 10:36 am
HRM Program Collections

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

25 Raleigh 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.

Audubon Print

HRMP Audubon

Object: Print
Object ID: MP.2005.014.012
Written by: Lisa Raschke, Museum Educator at Mordecai Historic Park 

Red Tailed Hawk is a 27” x 40” chromolithographic print depicting two red tailed hawks fighting over a rabbit.  It vividly details the tragedy and violence so often found in nature.  This image was printed in 1860 as part of the first American full-sized reissue of John James Audubon’s, Bird of America.  The series, most commonly referred to as the Bien Edition, was created posthumously by Audubon’s youngest son, John Woodhouse Audubon and famed lithographer, Julius Bien.  The goal was to have a subscription series, set up in 44 sets of seven different images, ranging in size.  The series began in 1858, but ended in 1860 due to the onset of the Civil War.  In total, only 15 of the 44 sets were printed and distributed. 

This image was purchased as part of the Bien Edition subscription series by Henry Mordecai.  The Mordecai Family were huge proponents of education and had a special interest in the work of John James Audubon.  Their collection included four other images from the Bien Edition, an edition of Birds of America, as well as, John James Audubon’s other famous work on mammals, The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America

John James Audubon was a revolutionary 19th century artist and naturalist whose work has captured the minds and hearts of viewers young and old.  His artistic abilities, coupled with his passion for wildlife and scientific strategies have made his books among the most expensive ever sold at auction. 

This print currently is on display in the stairwell in the Mordecai House.


HRM Aaron Burr Book

Object: Book
Object ID: MOR#73.I.934
Written by: Hannah Marley, Museum Educator at Mordecai Historic Park

Aaron Burr was the third United States vice president under Thomas Jefferson, and became infamous after killing Federalist political opponent Alexander Hamilton in a duel in 1804. He was also tried and acquitted for a charge of treason after planning to conquer land in the newly-acquired Louisiana Territory. The Life and Times of Aaron Burr was published in 1859, just over two decades after Burr’s death. The author, James Parton, was a biographer who wrote about figures such as Andrew Jackson and Thomas Jefferson. While Parton was a fan of Jackson and Jefferson, writing about the disgraced former vice-president was a bit trickier; he said, “By men far beneath him, even in moral respects, he has been most cruelly and basely belied...Aaron Burr was no angel; he was no devil; he was a man, and a filibuster.”

The book may have been of interest to the Mordecai family because of Burr’s daughter, Theodosia Burr Alston, to whom the book is dedicated. Theodosia was lost at sea in 1813, possibly off the coast of North Carolina, and legends and ghost stories have connected her to the state since her disappearance. A newspaper clipping speculating about her fate, published in the News and Observer in 1891, has been glued into the front cover. Aaron Burr has made a resurgence in public memory as the narrator and antagonist of the Broadway musical Hamilton, but the book shows that this contentious character has always been a figure of interest to Americans.

The Mordecai copy of Aaron Burr resides in the back library of the house and bears Henry Mordecai’s signature.


HRM Cherry Bounce

Object: Bottle
Object ID: RCM1999.14.01
Written by: Alli Mosco, Museum Educator at City of Raleigh Museum

This old-fashioned style glass bottle is fixed with a rubber and steel stopper. It is imprinted with three red cherries and the words “Think Fresh… Drink Fresh – 1792-1992 Raleigh”. It is filled with a dark reddish-brown liquid, known as cherry bounce.

To celebrate Raleigh’s bicentennial in 1992, the city buried a time capsule containing items that represented Raleigh’s beginnings. This bottle was included because of cherry bounce’s association with the legend of how the city chose Joel Lane’s land to build on. In 1792, Joel Lane supposedly served the surveyors cherry bounce to convince them to purchase his land to build the new capital city. Cherry bounce is particularly famous in Raleigh because of this legend, though it was a Southern staple even before its influence in 1792. It is a cocktail that originally was made of brandy, cherries, and sugar. Updated versions of this cocktail can be found in several bars around the city today.

This bottle is part of The City of Raleigh Museum’s collection and is on display in the Hello, We Are Raleigh exhibit.


HRMP Chandelier

Object: Chandelier
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.

Cigarette Case

HRM Cigarette Case

Object: Cigarette Case
Object ID: PHM2012.1641
Written by: Tiffany Godwin, Museum Educator at City of Raleigh Museum and Pope House

This is a circa 1950s-1960s women’s cigarette case. It is gold plated with gold roses and diamonds on the closure. Cigarette cases could either hold individual cigarettes to keep them from getting smashed or an entire box of cigarettes. Cases were not only functional, but served as fashion accessories as well. Decades ago, smoking was thought to be glamorous. It had been advertised as such in print media, television, and movies. It is no surprise that the cigarette cases during this time were luxurious.

This case either belonged to Evelyn or Ruth Pope. They were the daughters of Dr. Manassa T. Pope, the first African American doctor in Raleigh. These two women were working women who also did not marry or have children. Instead, they enjoyed fashionable items such as clothes, jewelry, and makeup.

A modern-day reference to cigarette cases can be seen in the recent television show Mad Men.

This case is on display in the second-floor bedroom of the Pope House.

Desk with Bookcase

HRM Bookcase

Object: Desk with bookcase
Object ID: MP.2005.013.001
Written by: Caroline Waller, Museum Educator at Mordecai Historic Park

This walnut Chippendale desk and bookcase with ogee bracket feet is an example of a popular American style of furniture dating from the late eighteenth century. Built around 1780, the desk originally belonged to Joel Lane, a man deeply embedded in the civic and political formation of North Carolina during second half of the eighteenth century. Lane is known as the “Father of Wake County” because he introduced the bill for the creation of the county at the Colonial Assembly at New Bern in 1770. Lane is also known as the “Father of Raleigh” because he sold 1,000 acres of his land to the North Carolina government to be the site of the new permanent state capital in 1792. This business deal forever shaped the destiny of North Carolina’s capital city. Lane’s legacy is tied to two of the oldest homes in Raleigh today, the Joel Lane Museum House and Gardens and Mordecai House. Constructed in 1785, the Mordecai House was a wedding gift to Lane’s son Henry. Following his father’s death in 1795, Henry Lane purchased his desk for 16 pounds, ten shillings from Lane’s estate. The same desk appeared on 1876 and 1901 inventories of the Mordecai house.

Today the desk is on display in the Mordecai House Library.

Dog Tag

Dog Tag

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.

Garrison Cap

Garrison Cap

Object: Garrison cap

Object ID: RCM2009.127.91

Written by: Ashley Fenoglio, staff member at COR Museum


This is a cap worn by soldiers during WWII while they were stateside or in garrison. The red piping indicates the branch of the soldier who wore it, and in this case, this soldier got to shoot the big guns, as he was in the Artillery. For an officer, the complete uniform would have consisted of a dark olive brown coat (greens), and a light khaki colored pant (pinks). Enlisted personnel wore a less flashy version of the uniform that consisted of light olive drab coat and pants.


Today, the Command Sergeant Major of the Army is proposing to bring back this World War II era uniform. The new "pinks and greens" prototypes were unveiled at last year's Association of the United States Army conference in Washington, D.C. These new uniforms would take the place of the blue Army Service Uniforms (which would revert back to special occasions only) and would be worn while soldiers are in garrison and not out training in the field. Surprisingly, most soldiers support this uniform change. The final decision on implementing these uniforms should take place sometime in 2018. As Raleigh is often a destination location for those soldiers stationed down at Fort Bragg, we may be seeing these uniforms in person very soon.


This cap is not currently on display, but is housed in the City of Raleigh Museum’s collection.



Object: Hat
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.

Lorgnette (Glasses)


Object: Lorgnette (glasses)
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: Mascara
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.

Morning Coat

Morning Coat

Object: Morning coat
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: Nails
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.

Printing Plate

Printing Plate

Object: Printing Plate
Object ID: RCM2017.025.004
Written by: Mary Vinciguerra, Collections Specialist

Raleigh has seen numerous newspapers come and go over the past two hundred years. Each page of the newspaper requires an individual aluminum printing plate. Printing plates are unique and lasting pieces of the newspaper production processes. This is the printing plate from the last edition Raleigh Times newspaper, commemorating 110 years of publication and announcing the closing of the paper in the same day.

The merge of several daily papers formed the Raleigh Times Newspaper during the late 19th century, beginning with the Evening Visitor in 1879. The first edition officially using the Raleigh Times name was published in 1901. Through the first half of the 20th century, the Raleigh Times served as the major afternoon newspaper in Raleigh and competed for circulation and advertising with its rival, the News & Observer. Nonetheless, the paper experienced a drop in circulation with the advent of local news shows through the 1950s. The Raleigh Times was eventually bought by the News & Observer, which ceased its production on November 30, 1989. The building that the Raleigh Times was produced in still stands today and has been converted into a bar and restaurant that utilizes a theme inspired by the newspaper.

The object is not currently on display and is part of the City of Raleigh Museum Collection.


Silent Butler

Silent Butler

Object: Silent Butler
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.



Object: Vases
Object ID: MP.2005.011.029 and .030
Written by: Justyn Kissam, Museum Educator at Mordecai Historic Park

Common in many households, the vase boasts a multicultural, expansive history. The word vase is derived from the Latin word ‘vāse’ which means vessel. As such, that has been its main purpose throughout time. Vases hold cut flowers, water, oil, wine, perfume, as well as serve as an urn for ashes. Besides its functionality, it can serve as a purely decorative piece as well, often painted or crafted in an aesthetic way. Materials for vases vary; from pottery, glass, metal, stone, wood, or synthetic material.

One vase illustrates a man and woman arm in arm, with violets on the other side. The other vase shows a man and shy woman with yellow and purple tulips on the other side. They are made of Old Paris Porcelain with gilt on the handles and trim. Both feature a mid-1800s Rococo Revival style by an unknown artist. Gilt is a technique to apply a thin layer of gold leaf or powder to an object to give it a brightness and air of luxury. Rococo originally began as an offshoot of the Baroque style in France in the early 1700s. It is characterized by its celebration of love, youth, nature, pastel colors, asymmetry, and elaborate ornamentation. Rococo Revival began in the mid-1800s and was a popular commercial style at the time. Due to its popularity, Rococo Revival pieces often were not historically accurate to Rococo style or production techniques. As one of the more prominent families in Raleigh, who hosted parties in their home, the Mordecais’ would have decorated their home accordingly; they could afford purely decorative pieces, made of the finest materials. These pieces could serve as conversation starters or a silent way to illustrate wealth.

These vases are on display on the mantle in the Mordecai House parlor.

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