Mordecai Historic Park Interpretive Center

Raleigh, North Carolina

Mordecai Historic Park is an integral piece of Raleigh’s history and one of the City’s most beloved attractions. Closely associated with the City’s founding Lane family, the property was once the seat of a thriving plantation. It is home to the 1785 Mordecai House - Raleigh’s oldest residence still on its original foundation, several associated outbuildings, and a collection of other historic structures that were relocated to the property - including the birthplace of President Andrew Johnson. Despite its important place in the community, the park had been in desperate need of an interpretive center since its establishment in 1969.

When the historically-significant Boushall House across from the park became available in 2012, Clearscapes was confronted with the challenge of visually connecting two important historic sites of different eras in a way that appropriately responded to the history of each. The master plan of the new facility re-orients the main entry point into the historic house from the formal front porch to the side of the house facing the park. A carefully-sited rear addition preserves the historic street view and setting of the Boushall House, while fronting the main pedestrian path through the park to provide an intuitive connection to the interpretive center.

To respond to the Boushall House, the overall form of the addition is scaled to defer to the neoclassical design of the house and proportioned to match the historic side porch. At the same time, the design of the addition is inspired by Mordecai family memoirs recalling life on the plantation. A steel arbor and trellis with natural patina finish recalls the color and graceful scaffold of the family’s canopy of beloved walnut trees and will support the same heirloom climbing roses that once surrounded the Mordecai House.