John Haywood, North Carolina’s first Treasurer and Raleigh’s first Intendant of Police (Mayor), began construction of Haywood Hall in 1799 as a home for his family. A member of the Council of State, Haywood was required to live in the new permanent capital city of Raleigh. Built on lots 190 and 191, the Haywood Hall property originally encompassed the entire block bounded by Edenton Street on the north, New Bern Avenue on the south, Person Street on the east and Blount Street on the west. There were a number of dependencies on the grounds, including a barn, gazebo, privy, kitchen-smoke house and servants’ quarters. Completed in the first few years of the 19th century, it is the oldest house within the original city limits of Raleigh still on its original foundation.
John Haywood married his second wife Eliza Williams in 1798.Their first home in Raleigh stood at the corner of Edenton and Wilmington Streets. Born in Wilmington, NC and married at seventeen, the young Mrs. Haywood was not impressed with the new state capital or with the home on Edenton and Wilmington Streets, and left after only a short visit. She went home to her family in Wilmington where she bore the first of their twelve children. The Treasurer proceeded to complete work on the house at 211 New Bern Avenue in fine style to tempt his young wife to return to Raleigh. The house is modeled after the Haywood family seat in Edgecombe County.
As one of the largest buildings in town, Haywood Hall accommodated John Haywood’s keen sense of hospitality. The two great rooms flanking the spacious hall could easily receive the entire legislative body. The house became an unofficial meeting place for legislators and dignitaries visiting the capital. The Marquis de Lafayette was a guest of the Treasurer in 1825. Betsey John Haywood, John Haywood’s oldest child, acted as hostess and was proclaimed by the Marquis to be “the prettiest girl he had ever seen.”
Eliza’s formal gardens on the east side of the house have been beautifully restored. The Brazilian magnolia tree has been the focal point of the garden for more than 200 years. True to Eliza’s original tastes as recorded in her writings and household records, plantings include early roses, crepe myrtles, fig bushes, a Kentucky coffee bean tree, a variety of hydrangeas and many perennial bulbs. In the same location as Eliza’s original “rosearium” as she called her gazebo is Haywood Hall’s third gazebo. Eliza’s garden remains a delightful respite and popular site for social gatherings.
Haywood Hall and Gardens is a short walk east from Capitol Square, at 211 New Bern Place.