AT EASE WITH HISTORY
Elizabeth City’s Grice-Fearing House
By Diane Lea
Elizabeth City is proud of its appellation, “Metropolis of the Albemarle.” The handsome river town (population 18,000) is sited where the narrows of the Pasquotank River open up to the Albemarle Sound. Established in 1793 as Redding, the town’s location ensured access to trade with the ports of Norfolk, New England, New York, Charleston and the West Indies. But it was the coming of the Great Dismal Swamp Canal in 1805 that sparked Elizabeth City’s first period of commercial and residential growth. According to historian Thomas R. Butchko, author of On the Shores of the Pasquotank: The Architectural Heritage of Elizabeth City and Pasquotank, North Carolina, by 1830 the old port of Edenton was casting jealous eyes at Elizabeth City’s shipyards, fisheries, tanneries, sawmills and other manufacturing businesses that attracted a flourishing population of merchants, artisans and navigators.
Through all of the ebb and flow of Elizabeth City’s history, The Grice-Fearing House — at 200 S. Road St. — has been witness to the community’s transition from fishing and industries related to forest products to a more diverse economy based on Intracoastal Waterway travel, a major Coast Guard facility, higher education and manufacturing. [read more]