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Ayr Mount

Ayr Mount | Hillsborough, NC

Hillsborough NC Ayr Mount

Photo credit: Ayr Mount | Classical American Homes Preservation Trust |

Looks can be Deceiving

Constructed in 1815, Ayr Mount is a Federal-era plantation house built by a Scotsman, William Kirkland. The name refers to his birthplace in Scotland, the village of Ayr. No doubt a showpiece in its day (a brick exterior was very unusual at the time), the inside is what makes this a home worth visiting. With ceilings that soar to 14 feet and remarkable Federal period woodwork and plasterwork, it gives a grand appearance. In fact, the house was considered one of the finest residential structures in the Piedmont area.

Richard H. Jenrette purchased the house in 1985, meticulously restored it to its original splendor, and gave it to Classic American Homes Preservation Trust as a house museum in 1993. Today, it’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places, in a town that’s one of the oldest communities in NC.

Inside the house museum, the west parlor features a portrait of Thomas Jefferson, while the dining room showcases a portrait of the original owner. (It was a condition of sale that the portrait remain on display.) In another room, a portrait of composer Joseph Hopkinson adorns the wall. He composed “Hail Columbia.” The nursery holds a crib and small chair, crafted from local wood and used by the many children of the family.

WOW Factor: On display are period furnishings that include examples by Duncan Phyfe, Charles-Honoré Lannuier, and John and Thomas Seymour. Also of special interest are portraits of William Kirkland by Jacob Marling and Thomas Jefferson by Ezra Ames, as well as a rare complete set of 51 etchings of North Carolina architecture by Louis Orr. Outside on the grounds, the Poet’s Walk covers about one mile, and wanders through the woodlands and meadows of the property (originally 500 acres, now about 60 acres). It runs parallel to the Old Indian Trading Path and passes by the ruins of an old tavern. Clearly, Mr. Kirkland was eager that all who passed see his creation. You will also have river views and see the family cemetery.

Hint: Open daily; check hours and times for group tours. Admission to the grounds is free. A ticket to the home is $12. After you visit, take time for touring Hillsborough, with its many fine old homes. learn more: 919.732.6886

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