Edenton (population approximately 5,400) was established in 1712 and incorporated in 1722, making it the second oldest town in North Carolina. Edenton flourished during the decades before the American Revolution through trade with other American colonies, the West Indies, and England. Located on Edenton Bay at the head of the Albemarle Sound, the community was for a time the second largest port in the colonies.
In the 19th century, Edenton lost its prominence as a political, cultural, and commercial center. Silting disrupted sea trade and opposition to the railroad impeded economic growth. The relative lack of development helped to preserve the town’s historic resources, which today make up an extensive historic district of 18th , 19th, and early 20th century buildings.
One of Edenton’s most important historic structures is the Chowan County Courthouse (1767), a National Historic Landmark that is one of the finest examples of Georgian public architecture in the country. After a $2.4 million rehabilitation, the building was reopened to public use in 2004.
Among its efforts to promote heritage tourism, Edenton participates in the North Carolina Northeast Heritage Trail segments on Civil War Heritage and African American Heritage. Throughout the year, historic trolley tours take visitors through the historic district, interpreting the town’s rich historical legacy.
Designated a Preserve America Community in November 2005.