Liberty Hall Restoration is planning a most unusual outside tour Oct. 28, from 7 – 9 p.m. Following a guide, one can stroll through the yard visiting with members of the Kenan family dating from 1736 until 1906 when the house was closed up at Annie Kenan’s death.
Thomas Kenan, who arrived in what is now Duplin County in 1736, will be portrayed by attorney Brian Bullard of Faison. The spokesperson for the Revolutionary War hero, James Kenan, will be Earl Hardy, Duplin County Historical Society president of Kenansville. Tom Fife, director of Vidant Duplin Foundation, of Kenansville will be acting as Thomas Kenan II, who built Liberty Hall in the early 1800s and later moved to Selma, Ala. leaving the home to his oldest son, Owen. Steve Hulen, of Salemburg will be playing the role of Owen, who lived at Liberty Hall from the time of his birth in 1804 until his death in 1887. After Owen married Sarah Graham, they raised three boys and one girl. The boys were wounded in the War Between the States while their spinster sister, Annie, lived at home with their parents. Sarah Graham Kenan had a lot of responsibility as she kept the farm, sawmill, turpentine still and everyday activities going while the men in the family were either away on political business or serving in the 43rd regiment during the war.
Sarah Kenan will be re-enacted by Christa Parker-Rowan of New Bern. Christa will be in the basement looking over Owen’s award-winning wines. Christa does a wonderful interpretation of whomever she represents. Annie, the only daughter of Owen and Sarah and the last member of the Kenan family to live at Liberty Hall, will be represented by Wanda Wheeler of Beulaville who will be in the kitchen. Wanda is a Medical Record librarian for Lenoir Memorial Hospital. The last representative will be Kim Quinn Ramsey from Pink Hill. Kim is a nurse for the Duplin County School system and will be representing Mary Lilly Kenan who married Henry Flagler on Aug. 24, 1901 in the parlor at Liberty Hall. Kim’s wedding dress will be flowing in the breeze as she wanders around in the darkness looking for Mr. Flagler.
This will be an entertaining way to learn the unique history of the Kenan family spanning 170 years in Duplin County. Chip Hardy, a teacher at Kenansville Elementary from Kenansville, Betsy Fiedler, a teacher at Kenansville Elementary from Chinquapin, Jamie Wheeler, an electrical engineer from Beulaville, Woody Evans from Chinquapin and Newt Carter, a long time employee of Murphy Family Ventures, from Kenansville will lead thrill-seekers from speaker to speaker by lantern light. The night sounds and the rustling of the leaves will keep guests in suspense — never knowing who might step out from behind the next tree.
“As one can see, an outstanding group of people have agreed to help make this a fun experience as well as educational. I think those who attend, will leave very satisfied with their visit. Seldom does one get a nice outing for only $5, ” stated Jo Ann Stroud, curator.