Built in 1824 by Simon Foscue, Jr., on the land that his father first settled, the brick plantation house is, in fact, the second dwelling built on the property. In 1813, Simon Foscue, Jr. was appointed Justice of the Peace by Governor Hawkins. At that time, a Justice of the Peace held the most powerful position in county government throughout the United States. Executing judicial, executive and legislative powers, Justices of the Peace were the local governing authorities and highly respected, distinguished citizens. Simon Foscue, Jr., who not only was a Justice of the Peace, but a successful planter, often visited New Bern and admired several of the high-style side hall townhouses that were being built in town such as the Jones-Jarvis House and Eli Smallwood House. This style, very much en vogue in England in the late 18th century, became prominent among high society in New Bern and outlying areas in the early 1800’s. According to Peter Sandbeck's book, The Historic Architecture of New Bern and Craven County, the Foscue Plantation house is “the finest surviving example of the rural influence of the stylish side-hall plan” that had gained widespread popularity in New Bern. According to Sandbeck, the political, social, and economic orientation of nearly every planter of any substance was focused on New Bern at this time. It is no surprise that plantation homes of the wealthier class reflect the architectural influence of the region’s trade center. The Foscue Plantation is touted as one of the “best documented plantations in Coastal North Carolina.” A large collection of documents and correspondence has been donated to the Southern Historical Collection at the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina and six slave related documents are on loan to Tryon Palace Historic Sites and Gardens and on display in their "Living History Exhibit". James E. Foscue, Jr., a direct descendent of the family, keeps the property in a state of ongoing preservation and restoration. With the best advice of experts in the area of antiques and restoration, the integrity of the contents and architecture have been maintained in the finest ante-bellum state.
The plantation is just 10 miles south of New Bern on Highway 17. Crepe myrtles line the property along the highway and there is an historical marker and signs that identify the location. When you enter the iron gates at the entrance, you are immediately taken back to a different time. Protected by magnificent crepe myrtles and a beautiful magnolia tree, the three-story brick plantation house is like no other you will find in the area. Each brick is handmade on the plantation, laid in a beautiful Flemish bond design on the facade with handsome corbelling on the gable ends, and stately chimneys. They are placed in such a manner to protect the interior from the strongest of storms. Upon entry, the fascinating story begins. Inside you will learn about Simon Foscue, Jr., his son, John Edward, John Edward’s wife, Caroline Foy and their children, Henry, Christiana and Mariana. You will be interested to learn how the plantation flourished in the mid-1800s. Information provided by the Research Branch of the NC Office of Archives and History indicates that Simon Foscue, Jr. owned nineteen slaves in 1830, John Edward Foscue, Simon's son, owned twenty-three slaves in 1840 and Caroline Foscue, John's widow, owned forty-eight at the outbreak of the Civil War; "a significant number for even eastern North Carolina". The family enjoyed economic prosperity before the War Between the States, but suffered through the harsh economic collapse and misfortune that much of the South endured after the War. We know this through family correspondence and word of mouth passed down by the family through the years. You’ll also learn about ante-bellum architecture, education and life on the plantation. It’s easy to see why the family is so proud of its heritage; where they came from and where they are now. By the end of your visit, you just may be having tea with one of the tour guides, learning more about the family and the house secrets!
In addition to being on the National Register of Historical Places, the Foscue Plantation was presented the Governor’s Award for Forestry Conservation by the North Carolina Wildlife Federation in September 2010. The property is visited annually by troops of the Boy Scouts of America who not only work on their merit badges and Eagle Scouts awards, but make contributions to wildlife habitat. The plantation, in an effort to recognize and thank wounded marines from Camp Lejeune for their service and sacrifices made for our country, is a proud host of the annual Wounded Warrior Hunt. A professional forester is always consulted and helps manage the woodlands for timber management and works in harmony with a professional wildlife management consultant to carry out the plan put together by North Carolina State University for the plantation. In addition, an easement has been granted to the Coastal Land Trust to ensure forestry and wildlife stewardship in perpetuity. Clearly, this is a dignified location. The Foscue Family goes to great lengths to maintain the integrity of the Plantation and invites you to visit so you can be a part of it’s rich past.