Online Originals: A new Civil War find in downtown New Bern

New Bern

NEW BERN, N.C. (WNCT) — People walk and drive through New Bern all the time. They probably didn’t know about one particular building in the downtown area and the historical significance it has.

Historians and members of the New Bern Historical Society said they’ve made a big discovery, a lost hospital dating back to the Civil War.  

Claudia Houston works for the New Bern Historical Society and said the discovery was literally right in front of them.

“People go by it every day, and we do too, and we had no idea there had been a hospital there,” said Houston.   

She said they’ve been looking for some time for the lost sites where Confederate and Union soldiers were treated for their war wounds. 

“It really started with Wade Sokolosky, who is an author, a local author and a historian. He’s written several books,” Houston said.

Sokolosky called in help from the New Bern Historical Society. Houston passed the details on to Nathan Glasgow, a former intern and recent Appalachian State graduate. 

“Two hours later, he contacted me, and he said, I think I found it. And he’s really good at accessing the deed records,” said Houston.  

They discovered the hospital was very close to home, and someplace they already knew. 

“But it was the old city hall, in 1890. the fire department was in there. There’s retail stores on the bottom. and it was a factory at one point as well. It’s the oldest commercial building in New Bern,” Houston said.

It’s truly a unique find, Houston said.

“It was used both by the Confederates and by the Union soldiers, which is really unusual in of itself,” Houston said.

The old hospital site is private property, but these history hunters wanted to check it to make sure they had the right place.

“And eventually we got to this room, and it had whitewashing on the walls. It was the only room that had that. And Wade again, who is a Civil War expert said, ‘this is it, this is the hospital’,” said Houston.   

This discovery was a team effort.  

“When we got to see it as a group, I can’t even tell you how excited we were,” Houston said. “And we came back here, and it’s all we could talk about. We felt like Indiana Jones, we had discovered something that had been hidden all of these years.”

Houston said they’re discussing what to do with the find, but it’s already helping them fill in other missing pieces of New Bern’s history. 

“Once we found that and found the address, some other pieces of information is falling into place that meant nothing at the time, they were sort of random things,” said Houston.

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