The Evans A.M.E. Zion Church is a key stop on Fayetteville's African American Heritage Trail, honoring the Black men and women who have helped pave our history.

Did you know Fayetteville had an African-American Heritage Trail? As we reach the end of Black History Month, it’s important to continue to recognize the contributions of the Black community on the history of Fayetteville, and this might be the perfect way to do it.

The Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau has a number of culturally significant trails across the area, and the African-American Heritage Trail is one of the best.

“The African-American Heritage Trail consists of sites that provide a historical glimpse into the life of African-Americans who resided in Fayetteville and Cumberland County. The hard labor bourn by slaves, the entrepreneurship of free blacks, the devotion to religion and education, service to our country, and the desire to learn and preserve valuable history await to tell the visitor a grand story.”

The Trail pays tribute to notable Blacks in Fayetteville’s history, like Henry Evans, E.E. Smith, Charles W. Chesnutt and Hiram R. Revels.

Of course a journey through Black history in the South is filled with a number of focuses on slavery and the impacts on the region. As the FACVB points out, much of our area was built on a foundation of Black contributions, largely through that early slavery.

“African-Americans arrived in this area as slaves of European settlers. The institution of slavery sustained the agrarian-based society that had quickly developed. Slave labor was also used to support another leading industry—naval stores—the harvesting of resin from pine trees to produce tar, pitch, and turpentine. When the nation recorded its first census in 1790, Cumberland County’s total population was 8,671, which included more than 2,100 blacks.”

There are 17 stops in and around Fayetteville on the African-American Heritage Trail. We take a look at those stops here, and help guide you through some of the most important contributions the Black community has had on our region.

  • Stop 1: Fayetteville Convention and Visitor's Bureau

    African-American Heritage Trail

    245 Person Street, Fayetteville, NC 28301

    Start out at the visitor’s center and you can pick up additional information to help you along your journey on the trail.

  • Stop 2: Fifer's Grave

    North Cool Spring Street, Fayetteville, NC 28301

    According to the CVB, the fifer Isaac Hammond is buried in this spot.

    “Hammond became the first fifer in the Fayetteville Independent Light Infantry and served 30 years. He also served in the 10th NC Regiment Continental Line during the Revolutionary War. He became a barber in town and participated in politics even though blacks were not permitted to vote at the time.”

    Hours: Exterior View Only. Open to the public, daily before dusk.

  • Stop 3: Evans Metropolitan A.M.E. Zion Church

    301 North Cool Spring Street, Fayetteville, NC 28301

    A remarkable church, founded by Henry Evans – a Black shoemaker and Methodist preacher. Most notably, Evans brought Methodism to Fayetteville for the first time, AND he was preaching to both Blacks and whites, which was unheard of at the time. The current building was built in 1893, according to the CVB, while the original church was founded in 1801. Evans died in 1810 and is buried in the mantle of the church.

    This biography on Henry Evans is a remarkable one. Read this before your stop on the trail.

  • Stop 4: Saint Ann Catholic Church

    357 North Cool Spring Street, Fayetteville, NC 28301

    Just down the road from Evans A.M.E. Zion is St. Ann’s which was created in 1934, primarily to serve the Black population who did not like being treated poorly at the primarily white St. Patrick’s church. The school on the site was the first school in North Carolina to be integrated from its inception.

  • Stop 5: Cross Creek Cemetery (Brookside)

    (Image courtesy Fayetteville CVB)

    North Cool Spring Street and Grove Street (Head to Lamon Street for the Brookside portion)

    Across the street from Saint Ann’s is the Cross Creek Cemetery. In a portion across Grove St. called Brookside, many of the most famous Black families after the Civil War are buried. You’ll find graves for the Chesnutt family, Dr. Paul Melchor, Robert Harris, and E.E. Smith.

  • Stop 6: Saint Joseph's Episcopal Church

    509 Ramsey Street, Fayetteville, NC 28302

    This beautiful church was built in 1896 for a Black congregation, and has windows from Tiffany & Co. in New York, as well as a pipe organ built in 1857 – one of the oldest still in use in the United States.

  • Stop 7: Orange Street School

    600 Orange Street, Fayetteville, NC 28301

    Tons of great info from the CVB on this one: “Built in 1915, by African-American contractor James Waddell. The Orange Street School is believed to be the oldest building associated with education in Fayetteville. Before its construction, black students had been attending classes in a small, one-room schoolhouse for nearly 50 years. The school continued to function as an educational facility for 38 years. The upstairs now serves as a museum where Bishop James Walker Hood’s top hat and bible can be viewed. He was an early founder and pastor of Evans Metropolitan A.M.E. Zion Church. The home of Edward Evans, the original principal of Orange Street School, is located across the street.”

  • Stop 8: Fayetteville State University

    1200 Murchison Road, Fayetteville, NC 28301

    Fayetteville State University – originally the Howard School for African-Americans – was founded in 1867. Named for General O.O. Howard. “In 1877, the Howard School was designated as the first State Colored Normal School to educate African-American teachers. In 1939, it became a four year college and in 1972, it became part of the UNC System. At the Chesnutt Library, historical artifacts, such as E.E. Smith’s sword, can be viewed in the archives room.”

  • Stop 9: E.E. Smith Monument

    1200 Murchison Road, Fayetteville, NC 28301 (at Fayetteville State)

    Dr. E.E. (Ezekiel Ezra) Smith, a respected African-American educator, headed Fayetteville State University for an impressive 50 years. In fact, Smith gave some of his own land to build some of FSU’s first buildings. He also served as an ambassador to Liberia and as the adjutant of the 3rd NC Regiment during the Spanish-American War. Other notable accomplishments include founding North Carolina’s first black newspaper and serving as a Baptist Minister for the black First Baptist Church.”

  • Stop 10: Martin Luther King Jr. Park and Sculpture

    739 Blue Street, Fayetteville, NC 28301

    Paying tribute to Civil Rights icon Martin Luther King Jr., this park and memorial statue are perfect for picnics or other gatherings.

  • Stop 11: Sandhills Family Heritage Center

    230 Chapel Hill Road, Spring Lake, NC 28390

    From the CVB: “Formerly called the Spring Lake Civic Center, it was founded by African-Americans as a community activity facility for local black youth in 1951. The center was used for youth and adult social gatherings, such as family reunions, birthday parties, church gatherings and during the 1960s, as a civil rights meeting place. Plans are underway to restore the building as an African- American Heritage Center by the Sandhills Family Heritage Association, which frequently hosts events and tours here about African-American Heritage. Today, you can view several outside exhibits including, a replica of a brush arbor, a section of a plank road, and a farmer’s market. For Heritage Tour and Re-enactment information, please contact Ammie Jenkins, Executive Director of the Association, at (910) 497-0628, or [email protected].”

  • Stop 12: Bethel AME Zion Church

    255 Vass Road, Spring Lake, NC 28390

    The church founded by Jack Murchison was started here.

  • Stop 13: Simon Temple A.M.E. Zion Church

    5760 Yadkin Road, Fayetteville, NC 28303

    This church location traces its roots back to 1873, when land was sold to the Trustees of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church of America.

  • Stop 14: Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex

    801 Arsenal Avenue, Fayetteville, NC 28305

    Heading back toward downtown Fayetteville, the Museum of the Cape Fear has a large selection of artifacts from the African-American story in our region.


  • Stop 15: Airborne & Special Operations Museum

    100 Bragg Blvd., Fayeteville, NC 28301

    Among the notable military displays in the museum, an exhibit on the Triple Nickels Battalion – an all-Black Airborne unit, stands out.

  • Stop 16: Fayetteville History Museum

    325 Franklin Street, Fayetteville, NC 28301

    The Fayetteville History Museum exhibits contributions made by local African-Americans. The museum also has staff oversight of Fayetteville’s Historic Districts and Designated Local Landmark Properties, many of which have strong ties to African-American history.”

  • Stop 17: Market House

    A street mural has been painted around the Market House in Downtown Fayetteville saying “Black Lives Do Matter” and “End Racism Now.”

    100 Hay Street, intersection of Hay, Green, Person and Gillespie Streets

    A controversial downtown landmark, the Market House has some debate behind its history. But it’s important in the story of African-Americans in Fayetteville’s past, regardless.

    From the CVB: “Previously known as the State House, it was here that North Carolina ratified the U.S. Constitution in 1789 and chartered the University of North Carolina. In 1831, a fire destroyed downtown Fayetteville, including the State House and the Market House was rebuilt on its site. As a marketplace, various peddlers sold cotton and other agricultural products here. In fact, one of the first meat merchants to sell their goods under the Market House in 1832, was a free born African American. Although not built as a slave market, slaves were sold here over the years until slavery was abolished in 1865. Historical debate also circles around the possibility that the structure was built by a local free black man, Thomas Grimes, one of the best brick masons in the area at the time.”

  • Stop 18a: Notable Historical Markers - Charles W. Chesnutt

    Fayetteville has a few other notable historical markers for Blacks, including:

    Charles W. Chesnutt – “Negro novelist and short story writer, teacher and lawyer. Taught in a school which stood here.” (Location on Gillespie Street)

  • Stop 18b: Notable Historical Markers - Henry Evans

    Henry Evans – “Free black cobbler & minister. Built first Methodist church in Fayetteville. Died 1810. Buried 2 blocks north.” (Marker is at corner of Person and Cool Spring Streets)

  • Stop 18c: Notable Historical Markers - Hiram R. Revels

    Hiram R. Revels – “First African American to serve in Congress, he represented Mississippi in Senate, 1870-1871. Born in Fayetteville.” (Marker is at corner of Murchison and Blue Streets)

  • Stop 18d: Notable Historical Markers - Lewis Leary

    Lewis Leary – “Free black abolitionist & conspirator in 1859 with John Brown in attack on U.S. arsenal at Harpers Ferry. Killed in assault. Lived in Fayetteville.” (Marker is at corner of Murchison Road and Washington Drive.)

  • Stop 18e: Notable Historical Markers - Omar Ibn Said

    Omar Ibn Said – “Muslim slave & scholar. African-born, he penned autobiography in Arabic, 1831. Lived in Bladen County and worshipped with local Presbyterians.” (Marker is at Murchison Road, N 35°05.479, W 78°54.632)

  • Stop 18f: Notable Historical Markers - Fayetteville State University

    “Est. 1867 as Howard School. State-supported since 1877. A part of The University of North Carolina since 1972.”

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