Tourist Center history exhibit reveals Havelock’s untold stories


Located at the Havelock Tourist and Events Center, the Havelock Historical Exhibit is a museum-quality exposition of the community’s story beginning with the Native Americans and concluding with the incorporation of the town in 1959. Nine panels of text, photographs, illustrations, maps, and artifacts inform the viewer about the people and events at this place on the banks of the Neuse River from pre-history to the modern times.

Diorama of Civil War fort at Havelock NC

FORT– A portion of a detailed diorama model of the 1862 Union-built blockhouse fort at Havelock, North Carolina. The fort stood on the banks of Slocum Creek near today’s tourist center. The model was built by Marine Staff Sergeant Joseph Frangiosa, Jr. as the centerpiece for the Havelock Historical Exhibit, a project of the Eastern Carolina Aviation Heritage Foundation and the City of Havelock. (More photos here).

Highlights of the exhibit are the story of how the city got its name in 1858 from British Major General Sir Henry Havelock, the area’s travails during the Civil War, its role in the naval stores, timber, railroad and moonshine industries, and the creation of the massive Marine Corps air station at Cherry Point.

Havelock historian Edward Ellis was project chairman. Ellis created the exhibit concept, provided the artwork and artifacts, and wrote the copy for the exhibit panels. Hunter Bretzius, then publisher and editor of the Havelock News, did the masterful graphic design work. Shannon LuQuire of Trade Ideas LLC oversaw manufacture and installation of the exhibit’s physical components.

The exhibit’s centerpiece is an artfully-detailed diorama model of the Union-built log fort, occupied by Federal troops from 1862-1864, complete with railroad cars and soldiers engaged in camp life. An 1863 drawing of the blockhouse fort was discovered by Ellis at Southern Historical Collection at UNC-Chapel Hill. Precise dimensions of the 1,681 square foot structure were confirmed by the historian via an 1890s real estate prospectus in the collection of New Bern historian John Green. A skilled model builder and active duty Marine, Joseph Frangiosa, was recruited to create the fort diorama.

The permanent Havelock Historical Exhibit opened in October, 2007 and complements the existing exhibits focused on Marine Corps aviation. The exhibit has become a popular tourist draw and serves to entertain and educate visitors of all ages. The Havelock Tourist and Events Center, at 201 Tourist Center Drive, is open to the public Monday through Saturday. School groups and tours are welcome. Admission is free of charge.