Fayetteville’s Rich History
Few places in America have played such a formative role in our country’s most defining moments as Fayetteville, from its original settlement in 1739 by Scottish immigrants from the highlands of Scotland arriving via the Cape Fear River, through the deployment of troops to Afghanistan and Iraq today. It is here the very seeds of American freedom, democracy and patriotism were planted and continue to grow.
In 1762, the town of Campbellton, located on the Cape Fear River, was chartered by the colonial assembly. In 1778, Campbellton united with the neighboring town of Cross Creek to become Upper and Lower Campbellton.
In 1783, the North Carolina General Assembly approved the town’s official renaming to Fayetteville in honor of the Marquis de Lafayette, the French nobleman who served as a Major General in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War.
Out of the dozens of U.S. cities and countries named after the Revolutionary War Hero Marquis de Lafayette, Fayetteville, NC was the first, and it is said, the only one he actually visited. Forty-two years after its founding in 1793, Lafayette traveled to Fayetteville in a horse-drawn carriage and was welcomed by residents.
The Fayetteville area has played key roles during defining moments in America’s history. The Liberty Point Resolve of 1775 pledged local support for the Revolutionary War cause for independence from England, while Scottish heroine Flora MacDonald rallied for the loyalist cause. After the Revolution, with no permanent state capital, the North Carolina legislature periodically met here. In 1789, at a meeting in Fayetteville, the legislature ratified the U.S. Constitution and chartered the University of North Carolina, America’s oldest state University.
The area grew as a center of government and commerce because of its location as an inland port and the hub of the early “Plank Roads” system, key to overland travel from the 1840s to 1850s.
Fayetteville citizens joined together to rebuild their city after two separate calamities. The first was the Great Fire of 1831 that destroyed over 600 buildings. Reconstruction following the Great Fire resulted in many of the landmark structures that we appreciate today. The second occurred during the Civil War when the city found itself in the path of General Sherman’s Union Troops. They wreaked destruction upon the town and burned the North Carolina Arsenal, a manufacturing facility for weapons and ammunitions for the Confederacy. Once again, Fayetteville rose to the challenge to repair the damages to their city and spirit.
Known throughout its history for its cultural diversity and military presence, today the Fayetteville area stands as a testament to its proud past. Many structures have been painstakingly preserved to reflect this history in nine designated historic districts across the city.
The City of Fayetteville is a thriving community located in the Sandhills region of southeastern North Carolina and is the seat of Cumberland County. Raleigh, the state’s capital, is approximately 65 miles north of Fayetteville, and Charlotte, a major commercial center, is about 200 miles to the west of the city. Fayetteville is located adjacent to Interstate Highway 95, a major north-south corridor that links the city to Washington D.C., Baltimore and New York to the north, and to Charleston, Orlando and Miami to the south. Interstate 295 – the Fayetteville Outer Loop - is currently being built around the western side of the city, which will further increase the Fort Bragg and the city’s direct access to Interstate 95. The 39-mile outer loop with provide connectivity to the region that has previously been unseen. The bypass is about half-way completed now and will be fully completed by 2025. State highways also link the city to the beaches along the southeast coast of the State and to the mountains in the west. Fayetteville encompasses portions of Fort Bragg and is adjacent to Pope Army Airfield. The bases add significantly to the Fayetteville area economy and to the culture of the community.
There are a lot of changes taking place across the city and for those who have not been here recently, the last 20 years have seen unprecedented development and changes, changing the city in so many ways. We have a revitalized downtown area, complete with retail shops and dining establishments, and that area is still seeing a large amount of growth, in part due to a new 40+ million dollar baseball stadium in our downtown area that is home to the Fayetteville Woodpeckers, an Astros affiliate and Class-A Advance baseball team. Coupled with that, we are seeing 80+ million dollar private investment project take place right next door to the stadium, where investors revitalized an historic hotel, The Prince Charles, into 59 one and two bedroom luxury apartments, known now as The Gathering at Prince Charles. Also next to the stadium, and currently under construction, is a soon-be-high-rise building; a Hyatt Place hotel and a 110,000 square foot office building, both of which are planned to be completed by the summer of 2021. We expect this reinvigorated interest in the downtown area will be sparking many other investment and expansion opportunities in the coming years.
We have a plethora of historic sites, museums, local breweries, local sporting events, and shopping areas across the city as well; more details can be found at VisitFayettevilleNC.com under Things to Do.
Neighboring Fort Bragg
Fayetteville is directly adjacent to Fort Bragg, one of the largest military installations in the world. The military base is home to the Army’s XVIII Airborne Corps and the 82nd Airborne Division, as well as the U.S. Army Special Operations Command and the 3rd Special Forces Group. In 2011, Fort Bragg also became the headquarters for the Army’s combat-ready conventional forces and the Army Reserve following the move of U.S. Army Forces Command and U.S. Army Reserve Command to the base. Fayetteville has been recognized three times as an “All-America City” by the National Civic League and is known as a community of “History, Heroes and a Hometown Feeling”. In 2012, the City celebrated the 250th anniversary of its founding.
Local Colleges and Universities
There are three colleges and universities in the City. Fayetteville State University is a historically black university (HBCU) and a part of the University of North Carolina System, offering over 60 programs of study at the baccalaureate, masters and doctoral levels.
Methodist University is a private university that was established by the North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church. Methodist University offers bachelor’s degrees in over 80 fields of study and six graduate degrees.
Fayetteville Technical Community College (FTCC) is a member of the North Carolina Community College System, offering over 250 programs of study leading to the award of associate degree, certificate or diploma.
The Airborne & Special Operations Museum (ASOM) is part of the United States Army Museum System and is located in historic downtown Fayetteville. It opened on August 16th, 2000, the 60th anniversary of the original United States Army’s Test Platoon’s first parachute jump, and its main gallery offers a self-guided tour, in chronological order, through the history of the airborne and special operations soldiers, from 1940 to the present.
The Cape Fear Botanical Garden is a nonprofit botanical garden founded in 1989. It is situated on 80 acres beside the Cape Fear River and just two miles from downtown Fayetteville.
SEGRA Stadium, home to the Fayetteville Woodpeckers, opened to much fanfare in April 2019. The Houston Astros, owners of the Advanced Class-A Woodpeckers team, signed a 30-year stadium lease with the City, ensuring their long-term commitment to our community. The team played 70 home games during the 2019 season, with over 250,000 people in attendance across the entire season. The stadium was named by Ballpark Digest as Ballpark of the Decade upon the conclusion of its inaugural season. Many other large events are held at the stadium throughout the year, from concerts, to weddings, to retirement ceremonies.
The North Carolina Veterans Park is located adjacent to the ASOM and is the first state park dedicated to military veterans from all branches of the Armed Services. Features of the park include a fused glass service ribbon wall, an interactive globe, a chandelier made from 33,500 “dog tags”, a community lawn area and a story garden where you can listen to touching personal accounts of veteran’s military experiences and their lives today.
The Crown Complex is a county-owned, state-of-the-art, five-venue complex comprised of a 4,500-seat arena, a 9,200-square foot ballroom, a 10,880-seat coliseum, an exposition center with 60,000 square feet of unobstructed space and a 2,440-seat theatre. The Complex is home to the Fayetteville Marksmen hockey team and Cape Fear Heroes indoor football team and hosts a variety of other sporting events, family shows, concerts and special productions year-round.