The oldest Court House in North Carolina, [it] is an architectural gem of national reputation. A sketch of its life reads like a panoramic review of the life of North Carolina: the hardships of the early colony, the struggles of revolution, civil war and reconstruction; all finally unfolding into the commonwealth that is the Old North State of today. Through six conflicts the call to arms has resounded within its walls; it can recall the inauguration of every President of the United States; Governors from the time of Josiah Martin have spoken from its rostrum; Princes and Presidents have danced on its floors and the most illustrious lawyers of the State have pleaded their causes before its bar.
It was here in 1829 that a jury found a poor white man named John Mann guilty of assault for shooting a rented slave as she ran off from being whipped by him, a decision overturned by Thomas Ruffin and immortalized by Harriet Beecher Stowe in her novel Dred and in A Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin--and still widely studied.
This courthouse loomed large in the life of Harriet Jacobs, who escaped Edenton to become "a quiet revolutionary" on her own terms.
Surprisingly, but fittingly, a picture of the Chowan County Courthouse is featured in a recent essay by Wendell Berry on the subject of land use and the environment. It's an example of "old buildings [that] look good because they were built by people who respected themselves and wanted the respect of their neighbors"--an example we can learn from.