The Blount-Bridgers House, built by Thomas Blount in 1808, was at the center of an enormous plantation. It is now a museum for local history, an art gallery, and houses the Tarboro Arts Council.
The Town of Tarboro owns the property and granted use of the property to the Blount-Bridgers/Hobson Pittman Memorial Gallery and the Arts Council in the 1970s.
With the house beautifully restored, the Arts Council wished to surround it with appropriate landscaping. Later the Blount-Bridgers Garden Committee was formed for this purpose and began work in the late 1980s.
This property, used by the entire community for generations, has been turned into a lovely and appropriate setting for a beautiful house.
The project was launched with a gift from a prominent local family, planted and tended by two local Garden Clubs. Many donated period plants, trees, and bulbs from other historic sites in the area (including irises and daylilies from Coolmore) and lovingly tended by the “Weekly Weeders,” who gather on Wednesdays to volunteer time in the garden.
In the early ’90s, a grant from North Carolina enabled the Garden Committee to engage Tarboro citizen, Loretta Lautzenheiser, and her firm, Coastal Carolina Research, to conduct a thorough archaeological survey of all the ground. CCR found an office, a garden house, a kitchen, a cat cemetery, a well, a cistern, and the location of a brick-making operation. Armed with this “ghost” plan, the Committee could map out a garden. Beginning with a landscape plan drawn in the early 1990s by landscape architect Chip Callaway, and relying on citizen volunteers, the Garden Committee created a frame-worthy of Thomas Blount’s plantation home. Workers were high school students, the Town of Tarboro Public Works crew, residents of the Tarboro community Outreach Shelter, local garden clubs, and many, many enthusiastic gardeners from all of Edgecombe County.
The Blount-Bridgers Garden received the Minnette C. Duffy Landscape Preservation Award from North Carolina Historic Preservation in the Spring of 2010. No records of the original landscaping were available. Still, intensive archaeological and documentary research initiated by the Garden Committee let to the identification of new plant materials and evidence of several outbuildings on the property. These findings helped guide the restoration while it involved a wide range of community resources and volunteers (including the “Weekly Weeders). The restored garden now includes a fenced perennial garden with walks and benches, a kitchen garden, two shade gardens, an arbor, and one of three of the largest post oaks, ‘Quercus stellate’ in North Carolina. Unfortunately it had to be removed in August 2020 due to extraordinary disease. However, the trunk was saved, filled with soil and planted to demonstrated how a salvaged tree trunk can be used for education.
Bartlett Tree Experts, Raleigh, tends to the trees and sees to their maintenance. Southern Lights, Raleigh, expertly manages to the up lighting completed in the spring of 2020.
Weddings and parties frequently enjoyed by guests, as well as birds and butterflies. The wide shaded porches are a perfect venue to enjoy music. The Blount-Bridgers Arboretum is still visited daily by tourists, citizens out for a stroll or a bike ride, and anyone looking for a pleasant spot in which to spend a little time in such a lovely area of nature and Downtown Tarboro.
Gardens require constant attention and maintenance. Please consider ordering your bulbs from Brent and Becky’s Bulbs and list the Blount-Bridgers Arboretum as your resource so that the arboretum will receive 25% of the sale to benefit the growth of the arboretum.
You may also make a direct contribution to the Blount-Bridgers Arboretum in memory of a friend or loved one, a birthday present, or just in support of the arboretum. You will receive an acknowledgment, and so will the family of the person remembered.
Please mail your check to:
c/o Candis Owens
104 W. Park Ave.
Tarboro, NC 27886