Recent News

Nina Simone's Childhood Home Becomes a 'National Treasure'

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has designated Nina Simone's childhood home in Tryon as a National Treasure, worthy of raising $250,000 to save. Eunice Kathleen Waymon lived in the three-room frame house until 1950, when she left home with a Juilliard scholarship and a destiny to become Nina Simone, revered for her hypnotic voice and fight for racial justice. After a 12-year-effort to preserve the house failed, the structure went on the market amid fears that it would be torn down. Instead it was bought by four New York-based artists, whose purchase caught the attention of the National Trust, which is developing a plan for its future use and protection. The effort is supported by the Nina Simone Project, the World Monuments Fund and the N.C. African American Heritage Commission.


Welcome Centers Celebrate 50th Anniversary

For half a century, Interstate highway travelers have been able to find a welcome, information, assistance and bathrooms at North Carolina Welcome Centers. The first two centers, dedicated by Gov. Daniel K. Moore on Aug. 1, 1968, are just across the border from Virginia on Interstates 85 and 95. Today, nine Welcome Centers serve travelers entering North Carolina from the north, south and west on I-85, I-95, I-77, I-26 and I-40. The centers are staffed by certified travel counselors who will book reservations (at no charge) as well as provide detailed information, maps and marketing publications. Learn more at  

Andy Griffith Museum Completes Major Renovation

After a renovation of more than half a million dollars, the Andy Griffith Museum in Mount Airy offers a fresh take on the actor-musician's storied life. Memorabilia is presented as a stroll through Mayberry, the Mount Airy-inspired setting for "The Andy Griffith Show," with storefronts representing real and fictional places: the Snappy Lunch, the Earle Theatre, Floyd's Barber Shop, Emmett's Fix-It Shop and the Mayberry Courthouse & Jail. Exhibits cover the Mount Airy native's Hollywood days, "Matlock" and music as well as his signature series. The museum opened in 2009, three years before Griffith's death. 

StateView Hotel Adds Luster to Raleigh Lodging Roster

N.C. State University's Centennial Campus, the university's research park and educational campus, gains a major amenity with appeal to business travelers as well as leisure visitors. The StateView Hotel, which opened in October on Lake Raleigh, is a 164-room hotel and conference center affiliated with Marriott’s independent-minded Autograph Collection. The StateView, which is less than quarter mile from the Arnold Palmer-designed Lonnie Poole Golf Course, addresses its target market's high-tech demands with the "fastest, most reliable, high-speed internet." Its signature restaurant, Flask & Beaker, draws inspiration from NCSU's heritage as a land grant university. 

Newly Restored Carl Sandburg Home Celebrates Milestone

After three years of extensive restoration and historical preservation work, the Carl Sandburg Home in Flat Rock has been refurnished in time to mark its 50th anniversary as a National Park. After the famous poet, writer and activist died in 1967, his wife, Lilian, donated their home and its expansive collection of books, letters and personal effects to the National Park Service. The 264-acre park includes a working goat barn and hiking trails. 

New Properties Maintain the Excitement in Durham

After scoring a pair of top-rate boutique hotels in 2015 (The Durham and 21c Museum Hotel Durham), the Bull City has added two more attention-worthy hotels.  In June, Dream Hotels launched its new Unscripted Hotel brand at the restored Jack Tar Motel downtown. The hotel has 74 rooms plus a rooftop deck with pool.  And a Duke University campus conference center has reopened as the 198-room, full-service JB Duke Hotel. “JB” is tobacco and energy industrialist James Buchanan Duke.

Nantahala Outdoor Center Adds First-of-Kind Canopy Adventure

Children as young as 2 can take to the treetops with the nation's first fully netted aerial playground, which opened at Nantahala Outdoor Center in Bryson City in time for the Fourth of July holiday. Treetop Adventure Nets, a ship-themed attraction, allows adults as well as children to explore from 10 to 20 feet above the ground floor without a harness. Features include tunnels, open spaces, chutes and pathways as well as views of the Nantahala River and the 2013 Freestyle World Championship play wave. Nantahala Outdoor Center is the world's largest outdoor recreation company.

Gregg Museum of Art & Design Reopens in New Digs

Once housed at Talley Student Center, this N.C. State University museum reopened Aug. 26 in the Historic Chancellor’s Residence near downtown Raleigh. The Gregg also has a new 15,000-square-foot building adjacent to the Georgian-style mansion. Strengths of the collection include outsider art, textiles, ceramics, photography and modern furniture. 

Carowinds Debuts Holiday WinterFest

Carowinds, the Charlotte amusement park, will add an active WinterFest celebration to the holiday landscape, transforming the park into a winter wonderland with a holiday light spectacle, live entertainment, holiday treats and fanciful experiences. It joins a lively regional lineup that includes Speedway Christmas in Concord, Christmas Town USA in McAdenville, Holidays at the Garden at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden in Belmont, and Christmas at the Library at Billy Graham Library. 

Benton Convention Center Completes Renovations

An $18 million renovation of Benton Convention Center in Winston-Salem is on track for completion by June. The structural, design and technological upgrades for the 100,000-square-foot building are aimed at creating more open, flexible meeting space with architectural nods to Winston-Salem's historic arts, tobacco and textile roots.

Whirligig Park Turns Wilson Into a Visionary Arts Destination

The Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park, featuring 31 of the late visionary artist's wind-powered sculptures, officially opens Nov. 2, just before the weekend's annual Whirligig Festival. Simpson, who lived in nearby Lucama until his death in 2013, transformed old bicycles, road signs and other cast-off items into whimsical works that have been meticulously conserved. Beyond those at the 2-acre park, whirligigs dance in the breeeze at the Wilson Rose Garden, Hickory Grove Park and other Wilson locations as well as museums in Raleigh, Atlanta and Baltimore. 

Cheerwine Toasts 100th birthday

Once available only in North Carolina, the cult-favorite cherry soda now enjoys wide distribution and acclaim as the National Barbecue Association’s official soft drink. But in 2017, the best place for a taste might be Cheerwine's hometown of Salisbury, where Innes Street Drugstore features loads of Cheerwine merchandise and treats. For the centennial, the Rowan Museum offers a yearlong exhibit on "the nectar of North Carolina" that features memorabilia, advertising and packaging.

R.J. Reynolds Mansion Turns 100

2017 brings the 100th birthday of Reynolda House, the 60-room American bungalow built by tobacco baron RJ Reynolds and his wife, Katharine. It’s also the 50th anniversary for the home’s role as a museum, whose American art collection ranks among the finest in the United States. Special exhibitions will focus on two leading artists in the collection: “Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern” (Aug. 25-Nov. 5) and “Frederic Church: To Jerusalem and Back” (Feb. 4-April 29, 2018).  

Bald Head Island Lighthouse Turns 200

North Carolina’s oldest standing lighthouse, and possibly its best-loved, turns 200 in 2017. Special events go on all year on Bald Head Island, an alluring destination where people get around by golf cart and bicycle instead of cars. “Old Baldy” is no longer an active beacon, but visitors can climb it year-round.

Eleanor Talley
Public Relations Manager
Kelly Renz
J Public Relations


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