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State Agricultural Bldg., Raleigh, N.C.

Agriculture Building_web

Our Flashback Friday postcard tour of the state government buildings encircling Capitol Square continues this week with a visit to the Agriculture Building on Edenton Street. This will be the fifth stop on the tour, which we first embarked upon in May 2013.

Agriculture Building_back_web

This week’s card was postmarked on December 29, 1932.

This building contains the State Agricultural Department and its museum is by far the finest South of Washington. Also the State Library Commission and other minor departments. Occupied 1924.

Our correspondent doesn’t say anything about his stopover in Raleigh. Given that it was winter, I imagine he was just passing through on his way from New York to Florida. But who knows?

I am this far down the 2d night.
Geo Andrews

The Agriculture Building seen in this week’s postcard was only eight years old when George visited Raleigh, but the State Department of Agriculture itself had occupied this corner on Capitol Square since 1883.

From Ramshackle Hotel to Neo-Classical Elegance — the Department of Agriculture Takes Root on Capitol Square

North Carolina’s General Assembly established the State Department of Agriculture in 1877. Four years later the state purchased a one-acre lot on Edenton St. opposite the Capitol building. The former Eagle Hotel had occupied the site since 1812.

State Archives of North Carolina photo

State Archives of North Carolina photo

The old Eagle Hotel, as seen from Capitol Square, about the time of its purchase by the state. 

For nearly 70 years the massive three-story brick building, enlarged with many alterations and additions over the years, continued to operate as a hotel under various names. It was acquired in 1859 with the plan to establish a Baptist female seminary there, but the Civil War intervened and the school never opened. During the Civil War it was used as the headquarters for Confederate conscription.

After the war the building was occupied briefly by the Lincoln Day School for freedmen, and in December 1865 Henry Martin Tupper, founder of Shaw University, established his school there.

The building was reopened as the National Hotel about 1870, but that hostelry had apparently closed before the state purchased the property in 1881.

The state hired Raleigh architect A.G. Bauer in 1883 to remodel and repurpose the aging building as state offices, primarily for use by the Department of Agriculture.

State Archives of North Carolina photo

State Archives of North Carolina photo

This view shows the Eagle Hotel building about 1890, when it was occupied by the Department of Agriculture. A weather station can be seen on the roof. Next door is the State Supreme Court building, erected in 1888.

In 1887 the General Assembly funded a ‘State Museum’ (later the Museum of Natural History, and now the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences) and placed it under the management of the Department of Agriculture. It’s mission was to showcase the state’s flora and fauna, and its natural resources.

By 1899 the museum had outgrown its space in the Agriculture building, so the state hired the Raleigh architectural firm Pearson and Ashe to design a museum annex to the north. The new building was larger than the agriculture building itself, and stretched through the block from Halifax to Salisbury St.

State Archives of North Carolina photo

State Archives of North Carolina photo

The state museum annex was so large that it encroached upon residential properties on the north end of the block. This view is from the Halifax St. side 

State Archives of North Carolina photo

State Archives of North Carolina photo

This interior view of the State Museum was taken about 1910, and gives us a glimpse of the minerals and gems exhibition hall.

From Repurposed Hotel to Neo-Classical Elegance — the Department of Agriculture Is Replanted on Capitol Square

By 1920, the Department of Agriculture and the Museum of Natural History (aka the State Museum) had grown to the extent that the old hotel building and annex could no longer comfortably accommodate office workers and the museum’s extensive collections.

Starting from scratch, then, the state hired the Raleigh architectural firm of G. Murray Nelson and Thomas Wright Cooper to design a modern office building and museum facility. The limestone-faced Neo-Classical Revival building was erected 1922-1923, and occupied in 1924. This architectural gem has presided majestically over the corner of Edenton and Halifax Streets ever since.

State Archives of North Carolina photo

State Archives of North Carolina photo

This photo of the Agriculture Building was taken shortly after its completion in 1924. The image is identical to that on our featured postcard.


The Agriculture Building is a part of Raleigh’s Capitol Square Historic District, and has been designated a Raleigh Historic Landmark.

In case you missed it, you can retrace the Capitol Square postcard tour from the beginning – Justice Building (1940), the former NC Supreme Court and State Library Building (1913), the former Revenue Building (1927), and the former Education Building (1937).


Our Flashback Friday tinted half-tone ‘white border’ postcard this week was published by long-time Raleigh bookseller and office outfitter Alfred Williams & Co. It was printed by E.C. Kropp Co. of Milwaukee.

E.C. Kropp Co.  1907-1956  (Milwaukee, WI)

A publisher and printer that began producing chromolithographic souvenir cards and private mailing cards in 1898 under the name Kropp. These cards were of much higher quality than those that would printed under the E.C. Kropp name.

They became the E.C. Kropp Company in 1907 and produced large numbers of national view-cards and other subjects. Their later linen cards had a noticeably fine grain. Sold to L.L. Cook in 1956 and they are now part of the GAF Corp. U.S.


“Flashback Friday” is a weekly feature of Goodnight, Raleigh! in which we showcase vintage postcards depicting our historic capital city. We hope you enjoy this week end treat!



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