“Hunt for the lady in grey”
Mordecai House is one of Raleigh's finest historic buildings. The original portion of the house dates from around 1785 and was built by Joel Lane for his son Henry. Joel Lane was one of the instrumental figures in the establishment of Raleigh as the first planned state capitol in the U.S., convincing the legislature to purchase a portion of his Wakefield Plantation property for the site. The house acquired its name when Moses Mordecai married into the Lane family in 1817 - in fact, he married in twice. When his first wife, Margaret Lane, died in 1824 he married her younger sister, Ann. Moses Mordecai was a member of one of the most prominent Jewish Families in early American history - his father, Jacob Mordecai, was a progressive, intelligent leader who was the first director of the Female Seminary in Warrenton, North Carolina, which provided an unusual multi-faith teaching environment for young ladies of the town. Moses Mordecai apparently deferred to the wishes of his Episcopalian wives, and his branch of the family were thereafter Christian, though Moses' son Henry did later donate a portion of the Mordecai lands to found the first Jewish cemetery in Raleigh. Moses was also apparently responsible for shifting the pronunciation of "Mordecai" - from the traditional long I ending to the long E ending by which the house is still called to this day. The descendants of Moses Mordecai inhabited the house for five more generations, until the house was willed to the city in 1964. The ghost, said to be Mary Willis Mordecai Turk, appears sporadically as an apparition in grey, 19th century dress and can occasionally be heard playing the piano in the downstairs drawing room. Mordecai House was featured on an episode of the Sci-Fi Channel's Ghost Hunters, where the band of erstwhile plumbers displayed their usual adeptness by completely confusing the history of the house and then all coming down with food poisoning. Mordecai Historic park also hosts another haunted building. The Andrew Johnson House, the supposed birthplace of the seventeenth president, which was moved to the park from its original location downtown. A ghostly candle can sometimes be seen burning inside the small house. Mordecai Historic Park is open to the public, and it's pleasant place to spend a day if you're in Raleigh. Picnic tables are available, so grab one of the best hot dogs in the world from Snoopy's, also on Wake Forest Road, and make it a day. Guided tours of the buildings are available.
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Mordecai Historic Park
- Tue - Sat: 10:00 am - 4:00 pm
- Sun: 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm
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