Explore local history in a whole new way. The Downtown Alliance and the city of Fayetteville host monthly historic tours by horse and carriage lasting about 45 minutes each. “The tours cover Fayetteville’s early history,” said Hank Parfitt, founder and former president of the Downtown Alliance. “It covers colonial times, highland and lowland Scots immigrating here, the Revolutionary period, the 19th-century introduction of the railroad and some Civil War history. It is heavier on the earlier history because we really want people to understand that Fayetteville has a rich and storied past.”
This month, the tour coincides with the Lafayette Birthday Celebration, and it is a special tour. There will be a guided exploration of Cool Spring Tavern. The tavern is named after Cool Spring, an actual spring that provided water for the original town.
“The spring was where many people from all levels of society would go to get water and to socialize,” Parfitt said. “So it’s pretty perfect that the new arts district is named the Cool Spring Downtown District. For those of us that really bought into the downtown revitalization, we saw downtown as a place for people of all social classes to come and socialize.”
The tour is a rare opportunity to look inside one of the most historic buildings in North Carolina. While the interior and exterior are close to the original look of the building, it is currently being rented by Connections of Fayetteville for use as a training center to help reintegrate homeless women into the community. “The docent will be Lulie Harry,” Parfitt said. “The house has been in her family since 1860. She will talk about the history of the building, share her family history and tell some family stories. It is a fun and educational tour that no one should miss. She is a great storyteller and a great teacher.” The tour of Cool Spring Tavern will last around 25 to 30 minutes.
All the tour guides are rigorously trained, but because of the success of the tours, there is a need for more. “We have grown a lot in our second year,” Parfitt said. “We are interested in getting some more tour guides trained up. If anyone is interested, they should contact me at (910) 6788899. We have a training program. It is not very hard to be a tour guide if you like talking to people and love history. It’s a lot of fun.”
The historic tours are popular among locals and visitors alike. Advanced reservations are recommended. Tickets are $25 per person and can be purchased at City Center Gallery Books at 112 Hay St. or by calling (910) 678-8899. There is a military discount, and tickets for children between 3 and 12 years old cost $15.
The tours run from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and last about 45 minutes. The tours will depart from 232 Hay St.