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The Historic Town of Bath North Carolina

Nestled along the Pamlico River, Bath, North Carolina, is a small town with a rich and storied history. As North Carolina's first incorporated town, Bath boasts a heritage that dates back to the early colonial era. This charming town has played a significant role in the state's history and offers visitors a glimpse into the past through its historic landmarks, fascinating stories, and scenic beauty. In this blog post, we'll explore the history of Bath, from its early days as a colonial settlement to its modern-day attractions like Bath Harbor Marina. Join us on this journey through time as we uncover the intriguing tales and historical significance of Bath, NC.

The First Capital

Bath was officially established in 1705, making it the oldest town in North Carolina. The area was originally inhabited by the Tuscarora Native Americans before European settlers arrived. The strategic location along the Pamlico River made Bath an attractive site for settlers, as it provided access to trade routes and fertile land for agriculture.

The town was named after Bath, England, in honor of John Granville, 1st Earl of Bath, a prominent English statesman. Bath quickly grew into a bustling port town, becoming a hub for commerce and trade in the region. Its harbor facilitated the export of tobacco, naval stores, and other goods, which were vital to the colony's economy.

Bath holds the distinction of being the first capital of North Carolina. In 1708, it was designated as the colony's capital due to its central location and growing importance. The town's significance as a political and economic center continued until the capital was moved to Edenton in 1722.

Blackbeard – The Infamous Pirate

One of the most captivating chapters in Bath's history involves the notorious pirate Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard. Blackbeard's connection to Bath is one of the town's most intriguing historical facets. In the early 18th century, Bath became a haven for pirates, and Blackbeard was among the most infamous to frequent its waters.

Blackbeard established a residence in Bath and even married a local woman, Mary Ormond, in 1718. The house he lived in, known as the "Blackbeard House," still stands today and is a popular attraction for visitors. Blackbeard's presence in Bath was part of a broader effort to secure a pardon from Governor Charles Eden, who resided in the town. The governor's leniency towards pirates, in exchange for a share of their loot, made Bath a notorious pirate sanctuary.

Despite his efforts to go legitimate, Blackbeard's piratical activities continued. In November 1718, he met his end in a fierce battle with Lieutenant Robert Maynard of the Royal Navy. The clash took place near Ocracoke Island, not far from Bath. Blackbeard's death marked the end of the pirate era in the region, but his legend lives on, captivating the imaginations of historians and visitors alike.

Historic Landmarks and Attractions in the Town of Bath North Carolina

Palmer-Marsh House

One of Bath's most well-preserved historic homes is the Palmer-Marsh House, built around 1751. This Georgian-style mansion was the residence of Colonel Robert Palmer, a prominent local figure and official in the colonial government. The house offers guided tours, allowing visitors to step back in time and experience life in historic town of Bath, North Carolina.

Bonner House

The Bonner House, built in the early 19th century, is another notable historic site in Bath. This Federal-style home belonged to John Gray Blount, a wealthy merchant and landowner. The house has been meticulously restored and is open to the public, showcasing period furnishings and artifacts that provide insight into the lifestyle of Bath's elite during the early 1800s.

St. Thomas Episcopal Church

St. Thomas Episcopal Church, constructed in 1734, is the oldest church building in North Carolina. This historic church has been in continuous use since its construction and remains an active place of worship. The church's simple yet elegant architecture and its historic cemetery, where many early settlers are buried, make it a significant landmark in Bath.

Bath State Historic Site

The Bath State Historic Site encompasses several historic buildings and landmarks, offering a comprehensive overview of the town's history. Visitors can explore the visitor center, which features exhibits on Bath's colonial past, the pirate era, and the town's role in North Carolina's early history. Guided tours of the historic homes and buildings provide an immersive experience for history enthusiasts.

The Tuscarora War

Conflict and Aftermath

The Tuscarora War (1711-1715) was a pivotal conflict between European settlers and the Tuscarora Native Americans. The war had a profound impact on Bath and the surrounding region. The Tuscarora, who had initially welcomed settlers, grew increasingly hostile due to encroachment on their lands and unfair trade practices.

In 1711, the Tuscarora launched a series of attacks on settlements in the area, including Bath. The conflict resulted in significant casualties and widespread destruction. The settlers, with the help of allied Native American tribes and colonial militias, eventually defeated the Tuscarora. The war led to the displacement of the Tuscarora people and opened up more land for European settlement.


The Tuscarora War had lasting effects on Bath and its development. The removal of the Tuscarora allowed for the expansion of plantations and increased agricultural production. The war also highlighted the need for stronger defenses and cooperation among the colonies, setting the stage for future conflicts and alliances in the region.

The Decline and Revival of Bath

The Bath Bridge on Bath Creek, North Carolina
Bath Bridge, NC

Economic Decline

Despite its early prominence, Bath's importance as a port town began to decline in the late 18th century. The rise of larger ports, such as Edenton and New Bern, diverted trade away from Bath. Additionally, the silting of Bath Creek made navigation more difficult for larger ships. By the early 19th century, Bath had become a quiet, rural community with a dwindling population.

Preservation Efforts

In the 20th century, efforts to preserve Bath's historic heritage gained momentum. Recognizing the town's historical significance, preservationists and local organizations worked to restore and maintain its historic buildings and landmarks. The establishment of the Bath State Historic Site in the 1960s marked a significant step in these efforts, attracting tourists and history enthusiasts to the area.

Modern-Day Bath

Today, Bath is a charming town that embraces its rich history while offering modern amenities and attractions. The town's historic district, with its well-preserved homes and buildings, provides a window into the past. Bath's scenic waterfront, quaint shops, and welcoming community make it a delightful destination for visitors.


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