Surviving through the Centuries

cupola house

Photo by Mary Kay Coyle

For over two and a half centuries, the Cupola House has stood watch from the north shore of Edenton Bay. It was built in 1758 by Francis Corbin, land agent for John Carteret, Earl of Granville. Carteret was one of the last famous Lords Proprietors who, in the 17th century, acquired vast territories south of Virginia from King Charles II.

Corbin died in 1767, and Dr. Samuel Dickinson purchased the house the following year. His descendants called the Cupola House home for over 141 years. With limited income, the last of the family were unable to properly maintain the house.

Weather and time eventually took its toll. The Cupola House’s once formal gardens were sold for commercial development until only 10 feet of space remained beside the house. Exterior paint was worn away, and the building was suffering from disrepair. Its loving, but impoverished, owners found no recourse but to sell off family treasures, such as the magnificent first floor Georgian woodworks. The house was threatened, and a historic landmark was near death.

In 1918, citizens rallied to form an organization to save the Cupola House. This organization eventually became The Cupola House Association, dedicated to its protection.

Today the Cupola House stands proudly watching over the bay. The formal gardens have been restored. It is an anchor to the lovely town of Edenton and a memorial to those who cared and took action to save this architectural treasure.

The Restoration Continues

In 2006, inspections of the house and roof identified serious cracks in the mortar, damage to plaster, split and loose shingles, and other severe problems indicating that the property was in dire need of critical repairs.

The Cupola House Association applied for and received a grant from Save America’s Treasures, National Trust for Historic Preservation that provided $115,000 for restoration and repairs. The work performed included the roof, foundation, fireboxes, fencing and woodwork. Click here to see a slideshow of existing damage and progress of the repairs.

Our grant requires matching donations from people who are interested in preserving this wonderful, historic gem. If you would like to make a tax-deductible contribution, please make checks payable to “Cupola House Association” and mail to CHA Matching Grant, P.O. Box 311, Edenton, NC 27932. The Cupola House Association is designated 501(c)3) by the IRS, so your contribution is tax deductible.

Recently, we have added an on-demand water heater system for the kitchen so that we will have hot water for the Candlelight Dinner, Wassail Open House, and fundraisers. We painted the roof with a special coating, and we repaired leaks around the cupola. Finally, after over 150 years of neglect, we have restored the Samuel Dickinson, 1780, Tall Case Clock. Come by and listen to its chimes!

Please Visit the Cupola House!

You may enjoy the gardens on your own between 9:00 am and 4:30 pm daily. Tickets may be purchased for guided tours of the home at the Edenton Visitor Center.



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Read about early architectural changes we just discovered.


View a photo gallery of the Cupola House gardens.


View a beautiful UNC-TV documentary on Frances Inglis and the Cupola House.


View a WRAL-TV news report on the Cupola House Restoration.


View a UNC-TV "North Carolina Weekend" video about the Cupola House


The Cupola House Board of Directors and Trustees invite you
to become a member of the Cupola House Association.
You can now join online!


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easels in the gardens