The North Carolina Visitor Center




Welcome to the North Carolina Visitor Center

From the mountains to the coast and all points in between

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 St. Paul’s Episcopal Church

St. Paul’s is the second oldest church building in North Carolina, begun in 1736. The parish, organized under the first Vestry Act of 1701, holds the oldest charter in the state. Three colonial-era governors are buried in the churchyard.

A short history of St Paul’s

The present church, large enough for a capital, was begun in 1736 but not completed for nearly forty years, long after the capital had moved away. It has twice undergone extensive repairs: in 1806-1809, when William Nichols installed a wooden floor and the present woodwork (Except in the chancel) and added the steeple; and in 1949-1950, after the galleries, roof, and steeple were destroyed by fire. Because the building had been stripped to its bare brick walls with all of the furnishings, even the floors, being removed for renovations prior to the fire, the Nichols pews and woodwork stand today as he left them. The chancel woodwork, designed by Frank Wills of New York, and the chancel window, date from the 1850s.

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Student Quotes

"This class is amazing. I love the combo of discussion and videos and 1:1 help from someone who knows by study and experience (not just has an opinion.)" -Leah, current student

"We are loving the teachings and course so far. They are a constant talking piece throughout our week - with family and friends. We are telling a lot of people about you Matt!! You truly are an inspiration." - Tanner, current student



Some of North Carolina’s greatest treasures can be found off the beaten path. You never know what you might find... an old-time general store, local artisan, or simply a picturesque view that takes your breath away. You’ll be swept away by the untouched natural landscape found on the backroads of this rural county.

In Anson County, you can discover all that and more. Come. Visit. Surround yourself with the beauty of North Carolina’s best kept secret.



Fort Defiance, a domicile despite its name, was the home of William Lenoir, a planter, teacher, soldier, justice of the peace, legislator, and entrepreneur. Lenoir was born on May 8, 1751 in Brunswick County, Virginia, and moved to Edgecombe County, North Carolina, at the age of eight. Initially he was a schoolmaster, but after his marriage to Ann Ballard, Lenoir decided to become a surveyor. In that capacity, he moved to Wilkes (now Surry) County in 1778 to take advantages of the opportunities along the frontier.

     There in 1788, on a 2,000-acre tract south of the Yadkin River, Lenoir built his home on the premises of a defunct colonial garrison known as Fort Defiance. The original two-story structure, completed in 1792, was 40 feet long and 28 feet wide, containing four rooms on each story. In 1823 Lenoir built a three-room addition for himself and his wife and an unmarried daughter; the main house he turned over to his son, Thomas, and his wife and seven children. Before his death William Lenoir dispersed his property among his children who built homes in the vicinity of Fort Defiance. Their community came to be known as Happy Valley. Six generations of Lenoir descendants made their home in Fort Defiance. The family cemetery is on the grounds of the house which was last inhabited in 1961.

     By the mid-1960s Fort Defiance had fallen into disrepair. In 1964 Mildred McDowell Jones, wife of a Lenoir descendant, formed the Fort Defiance Project to raise money to preserve the structure. The project received assistance from the state and garnered a legislative grant, contributing to the successful restoration. Now operating as a private historic site, Fort Defiance houses original furnishings and artifacts.



Gala to support Southeastern Health Heart and Vascular


By Roxana Ross


In the fall of 2017, Bob and Faye Caton were about to embark on a trip of a lifetime, a safari in Africa, but their plans came to an immediate halt when Bob began having some shortness of breath. Bob, who turns 81 in February, said he “was very macho about it and thought it would go away,” but it didn’t. He made the wise decision to visit his cardiologist at Southeastern Cardiology and Cardiovascular Clinic before embarking on such a long journey.

Cardiologists Dr. Chris Walters and Dr. Matt Cummings, who are both affiliated with Duke Health, evaluated and diagnosed him with 95 percent blockage in the main artery. Caton was quickly scheduled for a double bypass just a couple of days later with Duke Health-affiliated Cardiovascular/thoracic Surgeon Dr. Terry Lowry. Traveling afar was traded for staying very close to home.

“No one wants to have to go through this, but I couldn’t have asked for a better group than the heart team that took care of me,” he said. “From the clinic to caregivers to housekeeping staff, the Heart Center is like an orchestra, working together as a team with a great attitude. Everyone, and I mean everyone, from the providers, nurses to the technicians, you name it, they all take great pride in their work.”  

 Dr. Lowry, along with his wife, Paula, are the 2019 Heart of Our Community Foundation Gala chairpersons. Originally from Robeson County, Dr. Lowry joined Southeastern Health Heart and Vascular in 2006 as its first Duke Health-affiliated cardiovascular/thoracic surgeon. Since 2007, Dr. Lowry has performed close to 600 open heart surgeries.

 The Catons have a long history of supporting Southeastern Health Heart and Vascular, which is located on the campus of Southeastern Regional Medical Center and managed by Duke Health, beginning over 12 years ago when Faye served on the steering committee that helped raise funds to open the heart center in Lumberton. Years later, their experience and dedication to the heart center would become very personal.

Faye, who is also a SeHealth trustee, shared, “When I was on the original committee, we were on a mission to keep heart care here in our county. I never dreamed we, as a family, would use it and find the accessibility to be so valuable.”

There was no hesitation when the Catons were asked to be the honorary chairs of Southeastern Health Foundation’s 27th Annual Heart of our Community Gala of Grateful Giving.

 After his bypass, Bob found himself educating people about his experience.  “A lot of people have questioned me about where I had the surgery,” he said. “They ask if I went to Duke or Chapel Hill. When I say I had it done in Lumberton, they’re surprised. It amazes me, because we’ve got the best heart hospital in eastern North Carolina, maybe in the entire state, and we still have people in Robeson County who don’t know it’s here. I was able to stay home, which took a burden off my family, and I received outstanding care.”

Having the expertise of Duke right here in Lumberton and not having to travel for his surgery made a world of difference for both of the Catons. 

“It was extremely nice that we could be in town while he was in the hospital,” Faye said. “I could come home at night and sleep and go back during the day. I knew he was in good hands. And afterward, all the follow-up visits were also right here at home. Most importantly, Bob just got the best care. I can’t imagine people wanting to go anywhere else when we have such great care here. We are very grateful.”   

Now in recovery, Bob, who retired as the owner of Eagle Distributing in 2007, says he feels excellent. He’s following the road map provided by his physicians, exercising regularly, eating in moderation, and enjoying every moment. In November, the Catons hosted the Southeastern Health Foundation Gala kickoff celebration in their home to share their excitement for the gala funding efforts.

“For almost 30 years the Foundation’s gala has been a catalyst for the health of our community,” Bob said. “When you look back at what the Foundation has supported over the years, I just think it’s wonderful. On top of what it does for our community’s hospital, it happens to be the best social event in the county. Each year it grows, continuing to engage all people from each corner of our vast county, which is fantastic.”  


About the 2019 SeHealth Foundation Gala

The Gala will be held Friday, February 22 at the Southeastern NC Agricultural Center. The funds raised from the gala this year will go towards purchasing equipment for advanced cardiology studies in the Cath Lab. Advancing the complexity of cases will allow for even more heart care to be provided in the heart of our community.

Sponsorship opportunities are still available. Contact the SeHealth Foundation at (910) 671-5583 or or visit the unique gala website at to support Southeastern Health Heart and Vascular by selecting a sponsorship level, registering you and your guests or making a donation.

In addition to the Art Auction and Wine Pull, expect a new, fun way to get involved with giving. The gala committee is adding a Heads-or-Tails raffle.  Participating in all of these opportunities will be made easy with night-of-purchasing and bidding available through the event website by smartphone or an iPad provided at the venue.


Tryon Palace Open Free to the Public
Saturday, Feb. 9 | 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Tour the first floors of the Governor's Palace and the Stanly House, 
wander through 16 acres of gardens, discover 18th century trades through demonstrations, play historic games, and more during Tryon Palace Free Day!