Located 50 miles from the Atlantic Ocean and just off the Pamlico Sound sits the oldest town in North Carolina, Bath. Named for the English city of Bath, the coastal town was the first working port in the state. With its location on the water, it made Bath, NC a perfect spot to trade fur and tobacco…. and also was a favorite hangout for pirates.
What You’ll See in Historic Bath, NC
Bath is a quaint little community that is full of history that goes beyond just pirates.
It is home to the oldest church in the state and a National Historical Landmark, The Palmer-Marsh House.
If you are looking for a day trip to the eastern part of North Carolina, you won’t want to miss seeing Historic Bath.
Here are just some of what you can expect to see.
St. Thomas Episcopal Church
101 Craven St, Bath, NC 27808
Consecrated in 1734, this church is the oldest in the state of North Carolina.
The first clergyman was Garzia (of Spanish origin) who took no salary for the first 4 years, spoke little English, and yet baptized 635 people in the church’s first year.
Important artifacts from the church include Queen Anne’s Bell which was cast in 1750 (and recast in 1872), a silver chalice presented to Garzia by the Bishop of London in 1738, and a silver candelabra said to have been given to Garzia from King George II.
Land of John Lawson
200-216 Front St, Bath, NC 27808
Lawson arrived in Bath around 1700 and left the most important historical document on the area in his work, A New Voyage to Carolina which documented his trip to North Carolina and his time in Bath and surrounding area.
This book was highly acclaimed during his lifetime as it gave a detailed account of everything from Native Americans to the different species of plants & animals in the Carolinas.
Because of the popularity of his book, many Europeans made the voyages to Bath to start a new life.
Unfortunately, only a few short years after the publication of A New Voyage to Carolina, Lawson, who was surveying part of the Neuse river, was captured by the Tuscarora and killed.
While his house no longer stands, you will be able to see the land where it was located.
Joseph Bonner House
200-216 Front St, Bath, NC 27808
In 1830, Joseph Bonner, a Naval Merchant, purchased the land on which John Lawson’s house once stood and built his own home with a sprawling front porch to overlook the sound.
It is one of the best remaining examples of early Carolina architecture with pine floors, hand-blown glass window panes, and hand-carved mantles.
Guided tours of the property are available.
S Main St, Bath, NC 27808
In 1753, 28-year-old Robert Palmer, a lieutenant colonel in the British army, sailed from Scotland to Bath and became the surveyor general of the colony.
His family lived in the home for many years. During the early 19th century, the home was owned by the Marsh family who were ship merchants from Rhode Island.
This home is one of the oldest surviving dwelling houses in North Carolina.
Tours are available through the visitor’s center.
Van Der Veer House
207 Carteret St, Bath, NC 27808
This house once owned by a prominent banker (Jacob Van Der Veer) was constructed around 1790.
It features a gambrel roof and double-shouldered Flemish bond chimneys.
The interior is open to the public and features information and artifacts from the period.
Built around 1827, what’s known as the Glebe House was owned by Dr. John F. Tompkins in the mid-1800s. Tompkins was an agriculturalist and founder of the North Carolina State Fair.
This home is now occupied and not available for tour.
Blackbeard’s tie to Bath
Blackbeard (whose real name is Edward Teach) and his men were known to port in Bath regularly.
The locals welcomed Blackbeard because his men would spend lots of money there, which was good for the economy.
When he was pardoned from the King, the area of Bath soon became his home.
Unfortunately, it was short-lived.
Six months after the Queen Anne’s Revenge ran aground, the governor of Virginia put out a warrant for his head for fear that he was back to pirating.
In 1718, and he was caught, and his head was literarlly sent back to Virginia.
While the actual home of Edward Teach has never been discovered, it is said to have been across the water from the Bonner house at Plum Point.
One side is purely Christmas decor, much of which is homemade from seashells (and lots of love).
The other side of the home is beachy-themed knick-knacks. You will surely fall in love with this little shop.
Where to Stay in Bath, NC
If you choose to stay, you should consider a Bed & Breakfast in Bath that will give you a chance to stay in a historic home and be within walking distance of the sites.
The Inn On Bath Creek is a wonderful place to relax and get away. It has 4 bedrooms which are all equally comfortable.
If you’re looking for a pirate adventure, a taste of coastal living, or just want to step back in time, Bath, NC is the perfect place to visit. With its rich history and beautiful scenery, it’s no wonder this town has been around for over 300 years!
So if you find yourself in North Carolina, be sure to make a stop in Bath and experience all that this charming town has to offer.
Day Trips from Historic Bath, NC
We suggest that during your trip to Bath you also take some time to see a few other places that are a short car ride away.
Two places we think you would enjoy are Little Washington & Aurora.
Little Washington, North Carolina
Just a short drive from Bath, North Carolina is the small town of Little Washington. Little Washington was settled in the 1770s and went by various names before landing the name in honor of General George Washington.
The small boating town has some great restaurants on the water, boutiques, and a ton of antique shops in their downtown.
Be sure to stop by the Visitor’s Center to get a map for the historic walking tour (although, it may be best to drive it rather than walk it.)
This waterfront town is charming and has a fascinating history that dates back to the War Between the States.
On Water Street, you will find two homes dating back to the late 1700s that were used to house Federal Troops during the war.
You’ll notice that both homes show signs of battle with cannonballs still protruding from the front of the homes.
While you are in Little Washington & Bath, be on the lookout for these large crab sculptures.
In 2006, the city of Washington, North Carolina, funded an outdoor art project called Crabs On The Move.
There were originally over 2 dozen crabs placed throughout the town, but most were auctioned off for charity.
Take a drive just west of Bath, NC, and take the Aurora Ferry over to Aurora. The ferry is a nice way to get to the other side of the Pamlico sound and has a beautiful view.
Make sure you know the ferry schedule before you head over or else you may have quite a wait.
Once you get to Aurora, there isn’t a whole lot to see. The main attraction is the Aurora Fossil Museum. The Learning Center has a HUGE collection of gems, minerals, and fossils plus a cool fluorescent mineral room.
Across the street from the main museum is a few Fossil Parks where you can dig up Miocene age fossils.
The museum is free, but if you are planning to do some digging, you should bring a hand shovel, sifter, and plastic bags (to take home your loot).
Have you been to historic Bath, North Carolina? Is there something that you love to do or suggest others see while there?