The Mordecai House was built in what is now Downtown Raleigh and was the biggest plantation in Wake County at the time. These plantation owners got money to maintain the property by making their many slaves, (120 by 1840) grow and pick cotton. The Mordecai family continued living in the house until the late 1900’s, then the house was donated to the City of Raleigh to be a historic site.
The Mordecai House itself was built in 1785 for the Lane family, but in 1817 Moses Mordecai married Peggy Lane and gained control of the house. It was much smaller than it is now until right before his death when Moses improved and enlarged the house. The property Moses originally bought was about 2,000 acres and helped start Raleigh. Right after the house was built, in the mid/late 1700’s everything was done in one room, eating, playing, and reading. Henry, Moses’s oldest son took over the house in 1840. Thirty years later Henry had a kitchen built in the house and gas lamps were installed. Thirty years before, Henry, Moses’s oldest son took over the plantation. In 1914 the first bathroom was put in the house.
The hotel that Andrew Jackson was supposedly born in was moved onto the property in between 1968 and 1979. There is also a small church, used as a family chapel, that was transported here from Siler City to show what one was like. The Marks family attended it down below, on the first level in pews with friends, while the slaves watched from a balcony above. Today it is used for weddings. There is also a law office on the property that two friends used. It is painted in blue to show you how rich the law men must have been to be able to get that color. They had to travel all over so they had fold in desks, boxes, and tables to carry around.l.
The smokehouse across the lawn from the mansion is where the slaves would hang meat to dry, on a butchering day. The best hams and beef would be salted and hung off of the roof for when company came while the not so good meat was used every day. The kitchen is also beside the house so if there is a fire in that building, the rest of the house won’t burn down. There are drying racks on the top for herbs and veggies to dry. The kitchen there today is just a replica of what it used to be. The ‘mansion’ now has a vegetable and herb garden behind it.The Mordecai House currently has three bedrooms that are each set up to look like different time periods in which the house was occupied. They look like the mid-late 1700’s, 1800’s, and early 1900’s, with toys and furniture from that time. In the room setup like the 1700’s there was a bed with ropes at the bottom, then a hay mattress, next a feather mattress, and on top, lots of blankets. Around the bed either curtains, or mosquito netting would hang. The 1800’s room, including up-to-date furniture, had a basket of toys with an old View-Master, a kaleidoscope like glass bottle, porcelain dolls, and more. The last room, dating the 1900’s had electric lighting and a bathtub. The bather would stand up while a slave dumped buckets of water onto him/her. The soap used, was made of lye.