Union Square Grounds Renovations

You might have noticed the construction fencing around some of the walkways on the capitol grounds. If you didn’t know what was going on, allow me to explain. All this information comes from some very informative banners that are hung up against the fence on the northern end of the capitol. Along with the information there is some very interesting history displayed about union square and its evolution to today’s setup. If you are walking by I recommend you stop and read a little. Here is a quote from the banner:

The walkway renovations at Union Square will increase access and safety for visitors. During this project, we will create accessible walks at the south entrance (Fayetteville Street), remove the steps at the corner of Wilmington and Edenton Streets, and replace portions of the pavement between these two points.

So it’s really nothing too exciting except more handicap access. The posted history was pretty interesting. At one point the capitol grounds had fencing all the way around but that has changed (obviously). Anyway, the capitol is hands down the touristiest thing about downtown so of course we are watching what goes on around it.


Rendering of the southern entrance.


Map layout of the affected area.

Get Up And Do The Cherry Bounce

About a month ago I decided to make this legendary Raleigh drink, Cherry Bounce, and this weekend was the official tasting at a party I organized. The words Cherry Bounce pop up here and there around Raleigh but the actual drink, rumored to have played a role in the choosing of the North Carolina capital’s location, is not served anywhere to my knowledge. Yes, Deep South can make it for you on the spot but this is a drink that needs to be made before hand so I don’t count it.

I’ll be honest, I did little research on the recipe but discovered the following and just went with it:

– 4 parts cherries
– 2 parts sugar
– 1 part whiskey
– Let it sit for six weeks

The cherries and sugar are easy but the whiskey is wide open. Since there are many types of whiskey out there, I made three different batches of CB for the tasting party. I asked a bartender friend for some help here and needed three different types to use. Jameson, Crown Royal, and Jim Beam were the final candidates. I had to use frozen cherries since fresh ones are not available right now and I went with brown sugar to close things out.

Making the CB was pretty easy. All three pieces were thrown together, stirred, and kept in separate pitchers for serving later. I did add a little water to the sugar beforehand so that it was more of a paste rather then pure sand.

After five or six weeks of sitting in my kitchen, the CB was ready to be strained. I used a huge cheese cloth and poured the entire pitcher inside a bowl wrapped with the cloth. Most of the drink comes out easily but you can get a few more ounces if you squeeze the cherries while inside the cloth.

During the party, there were mixed reactions towards the CB. Each batch was served blind and no one knew what whiskey was in each sample. It had also been sitting out for six weeks so the drink was at room temperature; no ice was added. The Crown and Beam batches were the most popular. Whiskey fans leaned more toward Beam while others preferred Crown. These two had pretty opposite tastes while the Jameson batch was more down the middle.

Overall, the drink was good, but not great. Fortunately, I still have some of each batch left. I am going to get more opinions and will tweak the recipe so it tastes really great (hopefully leading to a follow up post to this one).

Unfortunately, I’m lacking pictures during this whole process. It is nothing exciting unless you taste it for yourself. Ask for Cherry Bounce at your favorite bar and let’s get it flowing through downtown.

Drink Cherry Bounce at Deep South

Deep South is serving up some Cherry Bounce. You may remember them from this BeerCon Post. If you are not familiar with the Raleigh history around the drink, read:

In the late 1700s, North Carolina legislators traveled to rotating capital cities to meet and conduct the state’s official business. So how did an oak-shaded area in Wake County become the permanent state capital?

The official story goes that the Constitutional Convention met in 1788 and decided the capital must be established within 10 miles of Isaac Hunter’s tavern and plantation in Wake County. After exploring the area, the commissioners agreed to purchase a parcel of land from Joel Lane, a local Revolutionary War colonel who had hosted General Assembly sessions at his home during the war. In 1792 Lane sold one thousand acres of his Wake County property for 1,378 pounds ($2,756) to provide a site for North
Carolina’s permanent capital, Raleigh.

But according to local legend, Lane, who–like Isaac Hunter–operated a tavern and inn out of his house, relied upon a potent fruit and alcohol drink called Cherry Bounce to sway the legislators in favor of buying property from him, rather than Hunter. Cherry Bounce is a concoction made up of mashed cherries, sugar and whiskey or brandy, aged for several weeks. Visitors today are not likely to find Cherry Bounce in Raleigh, but they will find that the tradition of Southern hospitality–inspired by the city’s “founding father”–continues.

– Via [Visit Raleigh]

Talk to your local bartenders and get them to serve Cherry Bounce too.

Worth Bagley Statue

On May 11, 1898 Ensign Worth Bagley , a native of Raleigh became the first casualty of the Spanish American War when a Spanish shell hit his US Navy ship, the Winslow, during the ship-to-shore Battle of Cardenas, Cuba.

Ensign Bagley was given a hero’s funeral in Raleigh and his memory preserved in a statue located on the grounds of the North Carolina State Capitol.

Historical details are found at:
http://www.spanamwar.com/bagley.htm

On May 11, 1998 Ernesto De La Fe and Leopoldo Suarez, natives of Cardenas, Cuba along with their friend, Hernando Ovies native of Guines, Cuba marked the 100th anniversary of Ensign Worth Bagley’s heroic death by placing a wreath at the statue on the grounds of the North Carolina State Capitol and smoking Cuban cigars lit be the NC Commissioner of Agriculture Jim Graham, who has a building named after him on the NC State Fairgrounds.

This coming Sunday May 11th will be the 110th anniversary of Ensign Worth Bagley’s death and this hero is but a faint memory in the minds of the Downtown Raleigh denizens.

The Ensign Bagley statue on the grounds of the North Carolina State Capitol is not even mentioned in the Walking Tour of the popular informative website called the Raleigh Connoisseur on all things relative in Downtown Raleigh.

Who will place a wreath at this hero’s statue for the 110th anniversary of his death?

Thanks, Padrino!

Beneath The Parking Lot [UPDATE 11:10 AM]

Nothing big to report here but there is something I noticed recently. It looks like the parking lot ocean at the Edenton and Blount St. intersection is growing. I would never normally blog about more parking, especially surface parking, but in keeping with this downtown Raleigh history kick I’m going through this week, there is something to notice here.

In Google maps you can clearly see what appears to be the driveway to the old Meredith College building that was located on the corner of Blount and Edenton St. It has been there for some time but now it has been scraped away for more parking spaces. We discussed this building in a past post and a regular commenter shared a link to a postcard with a photo of the building.

There is also a great sketch of the building in the state library’s archives (page 14).

What a shame. The brick pillars are still up so enjoy them while they are still here.

[UPDATE 11:10 AM]

Commenter Raleigh boy has sent in some more pictures related to this post. I would like to share these pictures with everyone. Please read his comment for some great background information.


1907 Colored Deaf, Dumb & Blind Institute


Hotel Raleigh


Historic Blount St.

NC Library and State Archives Goes Digital

Here’s a great project carried out by the NC State Archives and State Library.

From Crossroads to Capital

Witness Raleigh’s founding in 1792 and experience the first 50 years of North Carolina’s most powerful city in this exciting project from the State Library and State Archives of North Carolina.

Browse through digital copies of original documents, maps, books, and images, and check out the additional resources on this site to explore the evolution of Raleigh from its beginning near the Wake Cross Roads, throughout its founding, and into its early formative years.

If you are the kind of person that likes digging through old historic documents, this website contains some real treasures such as William Christmas’s plan for downtown sketched on paper. My favorite so far is this old newspaper with a view down Fayetteville St. (go to page 9) that even today we cannot match.

Thanks Kristen!

Prisoner Names Surround The Executive Mansion

I took the segway tour of downtown Raleigh this weekend and I learned some great downtown trivia during it. I thought one of the most interesting pieces of history was related to the bricks around the governor’s mansion. The bricks were made by prisoners at the time and to leave their mark, they wrote their names on the bricks. The next time you walk around the mansion look over the bricks and you will see lots of names written on them. Most are worn down but there are some that are still legible. I’m still not sure of the names on these bricks, any guesses?

History: Geodesy In Raleigh

Take a look at the two pictures above. Do you see a connection maybe? If you think we need more stones, I agree with you. The stones are located on the southeast corner of Union Square, or near the corner of Wilmington and Morgan St. They were used to calculate the exact latitude and longitude of Raleigh. Here is what the plaque on this stone says:

Geodetic Survery Stones 1853-1854 Site used by U.S. Coastal and Geodetic Survey to measure the precise longitude and latitude of Raleigh by taking simultaneous readings of the positions of stars here and at locations in Richmond, VA and Charleston and Columbia S.C. A Temporary telegraph station was set up here to communicate with the other sites.

I had to look up what Geodesy was and here is the definition from dictionary.com:

the branch of applied mathematics that deals with the measurement of the shape and area of large tracts of country, the exact position of geographical points, and the curvature, shape, and dimensions of the earth.

I did a little research because I was interested in the tech used to accomplish this in the 1850’s. It turns out the telegraph was patented in 1837 by Samuel Morse, the man behind Morse code, and the following years after that, the technology was improved and used on a wider scale.

Interesting stuff. If anyone can add to this, please feel free to comment. Look for these stones next time you are walking around the Capitol.