In an effort to protect the health and safety of its guests, visitors, volunteers, and staff, Tryon Palace site closed, effective Monday, March 16, at 6 p.m.
“At this time, the site will remain closed so that we may thoroughly and thoughtfully respond to the escalating impact of COVID-19,” said William McCrea, executive director of Tryon Palace.
Closures include all buildings and gardens on the Tryon Palace complex, including the Governor’s Palace and grounds, the North Carolina History Center, the New Bern Academy Museum, the Waystation, the Stanly and Dixon houses, and all accompanying Tryon Palace gardens.
During this time, Tryon Palace facilities staff will be conducting a thorough cleaning and sanitation of these locations, including specialized cleaning for technological equipment and collection items exposed to the public.
All Tryon Palace events are canceled at this time.
In an effort to support social distancing, Tryon Palace is requiring telework for all staff who are able. Only essential staff will be allowed on site, and only to perform imperative actions for the safety and security of our site and collections. Staff time on site will be restricted and staggered work schedules will be adopted.
“We thank you for your continued patience and support as we – like the rest of the world – face this evolving issue with upmost care and concern for public safety,” McCrea said.
Tryon Palace is first and foremost a family. We are a family of employees, volunteers, members, fans, and donors who make up our community – both local and extended. The current health concerns associated with COVID-19 are creating challenges for us all, and I wanted to reach out to all of you, let you know we recognize the gravity of the evolving situation, and are working to do our part to protect the health and welfare of our community.
As a gathering place for the community with diverse and prolific programming and events, we recognize the impact Tryon Palace has on the New Bern, Craven County, and North Carolina population. We not only host our own events, lectures, and tours that attract hundreds of visitors to our site each week, but we also play host to outside events and fundraisers. We are proud to play a part in the amazing events that other organizations host here, but know our responsibility is first and foremost to the health and safety of our community.
In light of Governor Cooper’s state of emergency declaration and guidance regarding canceling or postponing large gatherings in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19, the upcoming special event at Tryon Palace has been canceled:
• Tryon Palace’s Cultural Arts Performance: Harriet Tubman Reenactment, March 26
While we are disappointed not to be able to offer this experience, the health and safety of our visitors, volunteers and staff is always our first priority. If this event can be rescheduled, we will announce new dates in the future.
We currently plan to continue with smaller events such as our lecture series and tours. If further developments impact these events, we will let you know as soon as possible.
At this time, our site remains open for individual visits. However, if visitors are currently sick or belong to a group at high risk per the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, they are encouraged to postpone their visit. During this time our site is taking these extra precautionary measures:
• More frequent cleaning of high-traffic areas.
• Hand sanitizer, hand soap, and paper towels provided for visitor use.
• Frequent handwashing by staff and volunteers.
• Encouraging staff to telework to the greatest extent possible.
For up to date information on other upcoming events, please visit our website and social media channels. More information on health precautions can be found at the NCDHHS website.
Thank you for your continued support and patience as we carefully monitor this evolving situation. Please pay attention to our social media channels and website for updates regarding schedule changes and closure information.
For soldiers wounded in battle in the Civil War, the outcome was often grim. For soldiers wounded in World War II, the outcome was far different.
Renowned historian Ed Bearss was with the 3rd Marine Raider Battalion in the invasion of Guadalcanal and the Russell Islands, and the 1st Marine Division in New Britain. In 1944, Bearss was severely wounded by Japanese machine gun fire and spent 26 months recovering in various hospitals.
In his 12th annual visit to New Bern, Bearss will discuss medical conditions over the years and the possible outcome if he had suffered his extensive injuries during the Civil War. See him at Cullman Performance Hall at the North Carolina History Center at 2 p.m. on Sunday, July 22. This presentation was originally scheduled in January but was re-scheduled due to weather.
This is the 12th in a series of annual visits for Bearss, who was instrumental in the preservation of New Bern’s Civil War battlefield. One of the leading historians and experts on the Civil War, Bearss was recently presented a Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Battlefield Trust and was also the first inductee into its Battlefield Preservation Hall of Fame.
Ed Bearss during his World War II service in the Marines.
Jim Lighthizer, President of the American Battlefield Trust, said, “From his dynamic and detail-rich tours to his recovery of the lost U.S.S. Cairo gunboat, Ed’s phenomenal memory and tenacious curiosity have made him a powerhouse of knowledge and discovery.”
Bearss served as Chief Historian of the National Park Service from 1981 to 1994 and is now Chief Historian Emeritus. A sought-after speaker and PBS commentator, he is also a prolific author known for his work on the American Civil War and World War II eras, and a popular tour guide of historic battlefields world-wide.
Considered “An American Treasure” by the Smithsonian Institution, his books are definitive works on the period.
There is no charge and reservations are not necessary for this presentation. Early arrival is recommended. There will be a recption in Mattocks Hall following the presentation.
This lecture is presented by the New Bern Civil War Round Table and the New Bern Historical Society in partnership with Tryon Palace. For more information, call the New Bern Historical Society at 252-638-8558 or at newbernhistorical.org.
The N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources named William J. McCrea, a veteran department employee, as the new executive director of Tryon Palace. McCrea has been serving as interim director of Tryon Palace since March of this year.
McCrea replaces Lee Johnson, who was abruptly fired in February after 16 months on the job. The N.C. DNCR issued a short statement about Johnson’s dismissal: “Careful thought and consideration has been given and a change in leadership has been made for Tryon Palace. Mr. Johnson’s appointment as director has ended effective Feb. 23, 2017. We appreciate his service to Tryon Palace and to the state.”
McCrea has worked for the department for 36 years, in roles including head of Architecture and Restoration for the North Carolina State Historic Sites and associate director of the North Carolina Museum of History.
Most recently, he has served as director of Regional Museums, overseeing the Museum of the Cape Fear in Fayetteville, the Mountain Gateway Museum in Old Fort, and Museum of the Albemarle in Elizabeth City, where he led that institution’s year-long 50th anniversary celebration. The anniversary was highlighted by a highly successful symposium on the Underground Railroad in northeastern North Carolina.
“Bill’s extensive experience with North Carolina’s history museums and state historic sites make him a natural choice to lead one of our most treasured state institutions,” said Susi H. Hamilton, secretary of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. “I’m delighted to have someone with his background in this position of leadership at Tryon Palace.”
McCrea holds a bachelor’s degree in art history from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and a masters’ degree in architectural history and historic preservation from the University of Virginia.
He has been involved with the restoration of numerous state-owned buildings and was the project manager for the N.C. Museum of History’s national award-winning permanent exhibit on the history of the state, “The Story of North Carolina.” He has consulted with nearly 40 museums and historic sites throughout the southeast.
While serving as interim director, McCrea has been involved with the exterior restoration of the New Bern Academy, the renovation of the Douglas Complex, roofing work on the Palace, the design and bidding of a new HVAC system for the Palace, and most recently the Candlelight Tour. Over his years with the department, Bill has made many trips to Tryon Palace to consult on a variety of subjects.
“It is an honor to be selected to lead Tryon Palace, one of North Carolina’s premier historic attractions. I look forward to working even more closely with the Tryon Palace Commission, Foundation, African American Advisory Committee and especially the professional and hardworking staff in New Bern,” McCrea said.