Chowan County August 2023


County Seat

Median Income

Population Density Designation

Edenton is the county seat of Chowan County, a gorgeous small town on the shores of the Albemarle Sound that is steeped in history. Indeed, that history is at the center of the town’s current and future identity as a heritage tourism destination.

Established in 1712, Edenton was the first capital of the province of North Carolina from 1722 to 1743. Largely spared from the destruction of the Civil War, much of the town’s architecture predates the American Revolution, with the Colonial Courthouse considered by historians to be the finest example of Georgian architecture in the South.

Today, local officials are building an economic future around the rich history of the area, preserving not only buildings and homes, but the farmland and natural spaces that continue to thrive. Edenton has become a destination for both visitors and retirees who seek the peaceful charm of the town’s streets and the genial nature of its residents.

A major step forward in the historical preservation movement was the state’s purchase of Hayes Farm earlier this year. The 194-acre property will be leased by the state to the Elizabeth Vann Moore Foundation for the next 50 years. The foundation will be responsible for restoring and preserving Hayes Farm’s buildings and making the property fully accessible to the public. The main house at Hayes Farm, built in 1817, was designed as a smaller replica of George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate in Virginia. Overlooking Edenton Bay just east of Edenton, the property is still a working farm today, with plots growing cotton, tobacco, peanuts and grains.

Elected leaders and business owners are working together to make sure Edenton’s popularity as a destination and as a hometown doesn’t cause housing prices to climb out of reach for most people. Unaffordable housing can restrict the growth of the workforce, even as local businesses have plans for expansion. After all, to work in Edenton, people need to be able to live in or near Edenton.

Still, a town of 4,500 has room to grow. And Edenton is committed to protecting its historical identity while fully embracing the realities of the 21st century.

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U39702, 9/23