Mordecai House

Coordinates: 35°47′33.27″N 78°38′0.14″W / 35.7925750°N 78.6333722°W / 35.7925750; -78.6333722
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Mordecai House
Mordecai House is located in North Carolina
Mordecai House
Mordecai House is located in the United States
Mordecai House
LocationMimosa St., Raleigh, North Carolina
Coordinates35°47′33.27″N 78°38′0.14″W / 35.7925750°N 78.6333722°W / 35.7925750; -78.6333722
Area3.9 acres (1.6 ha)
Built byJoel Lane
ArchitectWilliam Nichols (1824 renovation)
Architectural styleHall and Parlor/Federal/Greek Revival
NRHP reference No.70000474[1]
Added to NRHPJuly 1, 1970
U.S. President Andrew Johnson's birthplace and childhood home is located in the park

The Mordecai House (also called the Mordecai Plantation or Mordecai Mansion), built in 1785, is a registered historical landmark and museum in Raleigh, North Carolina that is the centerpiece of Mordecai Historic Park, adjacent to the Historic Oakwood neighborhood.[2] It is the oldest residence in Raleigh on its original foundation.[3] In addition to the house, the Park includes the birthplace and childhood home of President Andrew Johnson, the Ellen Mordecai Garden, the Badger-Iredell Law Office, Allen Kitchen and St. Mark's Chapel, a popular site for weddings.[4] It is located in the Mordecai Place Historic District.

The oldest portion of the house was built by Joel Lane for his son, Henry. At one time, the plantation house was the center of a 5,000-acre (20 km2) plantation, one of the largest in Wake County. Lane is considered a founder of Raleigh, as 1,000 acres was sold from his plantation as the site of the city.[5]

The house was named after Moses Mordecai (1785–1824), whose first wife, Margaret Lane, had inherited it from her father Henry. After she died, Mordecai married her sister Ann Lane. In 1824, Mordecai hired William Nichols, State Architect at the time, to enlarge the house. The addition was considered a significant work of Nichols, who had also been responsible for remodeling the original building containing the State House. With the addition of the four new rooms in 1826, the Mordecai house was transformed into a Greek Revival mansion.

The Mordecai family, descended from immigrant grandfather Moses Mordecai (1707–1781) of Bonn, Germany, became one of the original three hundred Jewish families in the United States and one of the few of Ashkenazic Jewish descent.[6] The family members were prominent in local and state affairs. Jacob Mordecai (1762–1838), Moses' father, founded a girls' school in Warrenton, North Carolina. A prominent lawyer, the younger Moses Mordecai was a member of the 1805 Court of Conference. With his first wife Margaret, he had two sons, Henry and Jacob, and one daughter, Ellen. He and his second wife Ann had a daughter, named Margaret after his late wife, Ann's sister. Henry Mordecai became a prosperous planter at Mordecai House and was elected to the State Legislature. The family were also prominent slave owners, and many slaves, both those who worked in the home and those who worked the fields, lived on the former plantation. The State Historic site narrates the stories of both the free and enslaved residents, including moving testimonials from three former slaves . His daughter Margaret Mordecai married and inherited the mansion; her descendants owned and occupied Mordecai House until 1967.

During the 19th and early 20th centuries, the Mordecai family sold off land, which was subdivided for the continuing expansion of Raleigh. In 1867, George Washington Mordecai donated land east of the city to establish a Confederate cemetery; he donated another plot for Wake County's first Hebrew Cemetery. (The adjacent Oakwood Cemetery, chartered in 1869, became the namesake of the large suburb that developed in the adjoining wooded land, which was earlier known as Mordecai Grove. In 1974, Oakwood became the first neighborhood in Raleigh to be listed in the National Register of Historic Places.)

Mordecai descendants owned the mansion property until 1967, when the house and its surrounding block were put on the market. Local preservationists protested and the city purchased the property, turning it over to the Raleigh Historic Sites Commission to supervise and develop as a historic park. The commission was able to obtain many original Mordecai furnishings, as well as preserve the family papers and library. Mordecai Historic Park is now managed by the City of Raleigh's Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department. The Mordecai House is a designated Raleigh Historic Landmark.[7]

Haunted history and folklore[edit]

The Mordecai House is known locally for its paranormal activity and is believed to be the most haunted house in Raleigh. It was featured in a season two episode of Ghost Hunters in which the TAPS team investigated some of those claims.[8][9] Mordecai Historic Park has an exclusive paranormal research team since 2017, The Ghost Guild Inc., a registered nonprofit organization that investigates the house[10][11] and its surrounding buildings[12] at least three times per year. They present their findings at the park's annual Festival the last Saturday of October.[13][14]

Visitors and workers have reported seeing a woman wearing a long black skirt, white blouse and a black tie moving quietly through the hallways. It has been rumored that she can sometimes be seen standing on the balcony if you pass by late at night. In recent years, visitors have recounted hearing a piano playing.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  2. ^ " - Museums". Archived from the original on 2008-05-18. Retrieved 2008-03-06.
  3. ^ "Apex - The Peak of Good Living: Mordecai House - Visit the Wake County site". 19 March 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-12-30. Retrieved 2008-03-06.
  4. ^ "Mordecai Historic Park" Archived 2011-04-30 at the Wayback Machine, Raleigh, North Carolina
  5. ^ Jack Zehmer and Sherry Ingram (April 1970). "Mordecai House" (PDF). National Register of Historic Places - Nomination and Inventory. North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2019-05-08. Retrieved 2015-05-01.
  6. ^ Burial: Mikveh Israel Cemetery Philadelphia Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, USA Created by: Ruby Mordecai. Record added: Dec 28, 2006 Find A Grave Memorial# 17200311
  7. ^ "Mordecai House- Raleigh: A Capital City: A National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary". Archived from the original on 2007-12-27. Retrieved 2008-03-06.
  8. ^ "Ghost Hunters (TV series)". SciFi Channel. Season 2. Episode 204. 2005-08-17.
  9. ^ Hawes, Jason; Wilson, Grant; Friedman, Michael Jan (2007). "Mordecai House March 2005". Ghost Hunting: True Stories of Unexplained Phenomena from The Atlantic Paranormal Society. New York: Pocket Books. pp. 168–171. ISBN 978-1-4165-4113-4. LCCN 2007016062.
  10. ^ WTVD (2018-10-18). "Haunted Triangle: The haunting of Mordecai House". ABC11 Raleigh-Durham. Retrieved 2021-07-05.
  11. ^ WRAL (2017-10-24). "Ghost Guild tours offer paranormal perspective of historic Raleigh home". Retrieved 2021-07-05.
  12. ^ WTVD (2018-10-18). "Haunted Triangle: Possible spirit haunts Andrew Johnson's birthplace". ABC11 Raleigh-Durham. Retrieved 2021-07-05.
  13. ^ The Ghost Guild Inc. - Exclusive Paranormal Research Team for Mordecai Historic Park
  14. ^ Gratton, Samantha (October 2018). "The Ghost Guild of Raleigh". Walter Magazine. Raleigh, NC: The News & Observer Publishing Co. Archived from the original on 2020-02-18. Retrieved 2020-02-18.
  15. ^ WRAL (2022-10-01). "Lady in gray: Raleigh legend says ghostly woman appears on balcony of centuries-old home". WRAL News.

External links[edit]