that Colonel James A. Richardson built his home on a 12,000 acre tract on the Cape Fear River near the village of White Oak. A native of Stonington, Connecticut, who ran a West Indies shipping line, he had earlier been shipwrecked off Cape Hatteras and while waiting for the arrival of one of his ships, had explored the area. He liked the Cape Fear River bottom lands so much that he decided to settle and make his home there. About the same time he met a young widow, Elizabeth Neal Purdy, whose parents came from Barbados. They were married around 1768 and moved into the house he had been building.
In late 1986, restoration on Harmony Hall began in earnest. Realization that the historical society did not own the surrounding land became abruptly evident when the tract was offered for sale. Because of a plea from the historical society, the Preservation Foundation purchased the 97 acres which surrounded the house. With funds raised, the historical society has been able to buy back the land and house from the Preservation Foundation. This transaction gives the site access to the nearby road as well as the Cape Fear River.
Several old buildings have been moved onto the property to give it a Village of Yesteryear atmosphere.
Free, but donations are accepted.
As you head into this area, the first stop you will want to make is at Harmony Hall, located in White Oak. Built in the 1760s, Harmony Hall is one of the oldest plantations in North Carolina and was once home to the state’s first constitutionally elected governor, Richard Caswell. During the Revolutionary War, British general Charles Cornwallis commandeered the home. A period reenactment is held and wagon rides are offered during the annual Harmony Hall Reunion Picnic the first Saturday in May. Several other historic buildings, including a chapel, schoolhouse, and log home, have been moved to the property.