Hillsborough, North Carolina, (population 6,000) was established as the seat of Orange County in 1754, at the point where the Great Indian Trading Path crosses the Eno River. Hillsborough was the scene of dramatic events prior to the Revolutionary War when farmers, upset about taxes and local officials' corruption, closed the court in town and dragged the offending parties through the streets.
Hillsborough has retained an impressive collection of buildings, sites, and landscapes that reflect its role during the Colonial, Revolutionary War, Antebellum, and Civil War periods. Today, Hillsborough's large downtown historic district, listed in the National Register of Historic Places, features more than 100 late 18th and early 19th century buildings, several of which are open to the public. Hillsborough's Town Hall, for example, is located in the c. 1810 Ruffin-Roulhac House.
Recently, the Hillsborough Tourism Board began offering tourism grants to local house museums and historic sites, and for restoration projects for important landmarks. These grants, funded by a 1 percent prepared-food tax, were originally conceived of as a way to offer local historic attractions free of charge to the visitor, and thus attract more visitors to the town.
One recipient of such funds is the Alliance for Historic Hillsborough, a local historic preservation nonprofit whose mission is to preserve, enhance, and increase awareness of the historical and cultural heritage of Hillsborough for residents and visitors. The Alliance operates the Hillsborough Visitors Center, located in the c. 1790 Alexander Dickson House, and offers many programs, including popular guided tours of the historic district.
Another popular program is the annual Revolutionary War Living History Day. This event is held each February and commemorates British General Charles Cornwallis' visit to the area in 1781. Living History Day provides visitors and residents a chance to learn about the lives of typical British soldiers and loyalist volunteers during the Revolutionary War.
Designated a Preserve America Community in July 2010.