Kinston (population 23,688), seat of Lenoir County, was established in 1740. First named "Kingston," the community was renamed by local patriots following the Revolution. During the Civil War, the Battles of Kinston and Wyse Ford were fought nearby, the latter being the second largest Civil War land battle in the State.
The Heritage Preservation Group is actively working to preserve the battlefields and has purchased acreage at both sites. They have also partnered with Civil War Trails, Inc., a regional nonprofit, to include Kinston's battlefields in the North Carolina Civil War Trails Guide. Visitors who are interested in the Civil War also can experience annual living history encampments and demonstrations.
When Union troops occupied Kinston in March 1865, Confederate forces scuttled the CSS Neuse, one of 22 ironclad vessels commissioned by the Confederate Navy. The remains of the vessel were recovered from the Neuse River in 1963.
Currently on display in an outdoor shelter, the Neuse will be the centerpiece of a new Civil War museum in Kinston. The museum will provide a climate-controlled environment for the Neuse and expanded space to display and interpret thousands of associated Civil War artifacts.
Since the museum will be housed in an adaptively used historic building in the downtown historic district, the museum is expected have important economic benefits for the community. Future visitors to the museum will be able to enjoy Kinston's many historic resources, including one designated local historic district, four National Register Districts, and a dozen individually listed National Register-listed properties.
Designated a Preserve America Community in April 2005.