Creative Essays and Projects

Location and Appearance

  1. Using a map, identify towns which served as meeting places for the legislature such as Wilmington, Fayetteville, Bath, Edenton, Halifax, Hillsborough, and New Bern. Discuss why the legislature decided to establish a permanent capital city. Compare Tryon Palace, the first State Capitol and residence of Royal Governor William Tryon, to the State Capitol in Raleigh, highlighting their similarities, differences, and uniqueness of purpose.
  2. Design a travel brochure for the State Capitol. Make sure to include statuary as well as the building itself. Point out why a building such as our capitol is significant to our state's cultural identity.
  3. If your class is able to visit the Capitol, go on a scavenger hunt and locate and describe the importance of these items on the grounds and in the building: two statues of George Washington, two blue curtains, three former governors, at least one flag, two porticoes, a hornet's nest, three former presidents, a cannon, a quill pen, and a Corinthian column.
  4. Choose a state other than North Carolina and write or e-mail the historian of the Capitol (each student should choose a different state). Ask about the history of the Capitol and request photographs. After collecting as much information as possible, combine all the research to make a scrapbook. Compare each capitol with North Carolina's Capitol and discuss your observations.

Government in Action

  1. Use oatmeal boxes and shoe boxes to form a model of the State Capitol. Make doors, windows, and other parts of the building with a felt tip pen. Put labels and any other miniature objects you choose within the shoe box to depict the various branches of state government so that they can be observed whenever the lids are removed from the boxes.
  2. Create a bulletin board that shows each of the three branches of state government:
    • Executive
    • Legislative
    • Judicial

    List the titles of people who work under each branch. Draw pictures and/or write stories to illustrate the functions of each branch. Add newspaper articles concerning the different aspects of government you are studying.

  3. Invite a representative from each branch of government to visit your classroom to discuss his or her duties with you. Ask him or her to tell you about the training he or she received to serve in his or her position.
  4. Have an election in your classroom. Campaign and elect a governor, lieutenant governor, five senators, and five members of the House of Representatives. Schedule a debate between the members of the Senate and a debate between the members of the House. Choose an issue and prepare arguments ahead of time to present at the debates.
  5. Write a diary entry as if you are the governor or one of the staff in the Executive Branch. Describe your activities each hour of a day. Extend this diary exercise over a five-day period prior to your visit to the Capitol.
  6. Identify living legislators who served in the State Capitol (1961 or earlier). If one of these legislators lives in your area, invite him or her to visit your class and to give a presentation about what it was like to attend General Assembly sessions in the Capitol. If a legislator is unable to attend class, request a letter from the legislator describing his or her experiences, or send a delegation of students to visit the legislator and to obtain a video or taped interview to present to the class.

Personalities at the Capitol

  1. Write a report on the four North Carolinians honored with busts in the Rotunda: Samuel JohnstonJohn Motley MoreheadWilliam Graham, and Matt Ransom. Research how each individual contributed to the development of North Carolina. Divide into groups of four and each pretend to be one of these individuals and be interviewed by the other students.
  2. Many important people have visited the Capitol. Choose one or two of the following and list their accomplishments. Tell why they are important. Challenge: Research and report on the purpose of his or her visit to the Capitol:
    • James K. Polk
    • Henry Clay
    • Stephen A. Douglas
    • William T. Sherman
    • Andrew Johnson
    • Daniel Webster
    • Dorothea Dix
    • Franklin D. Roosevelt
    • Coretta Scott King
    • Frances Perkins
    • Harry Truman

Historic Preservation

  1. The North Carolina State Capitol is one of the finest surviving examples of a public building in the Greek Revival style of architecture in the United States. A decision was made to preserve this structure as a symbol of our state, a legacy of our past, rather than to abandon and destroy it when the legislature moved out in the 1960s. In fact, it was designated a National Historic Landmark. What structures in your community have been preserved? Identify and survey structures and areas in your community which are unprotected and in need of recognition and preservation.
  2. Our State Capitol is essentially the same today as it was when it was completed in 1840. You are asked to speak to a historical society on the need to keep it the same. Write your speech.
  3. Divide the class into groups. Each group should choose a significant public building in the community such as a town hall, courthouse, school, church, or railroad station. Make a video promoting the preservation of the building in terms of its historical, architectural, or cultural value. Research the building using old photographs, newspaper articles, oral interviews, and the library's local history collection. As a group, present to the class an oral report with the video, providing a question-and-answer period. Select either one or two of the videos to present at a public community forum.
  4. Visit a historic house or building that is being restored or preserved. Discuss the differences between (1) restoring or preserving a structure and (2) adapting a structure to modern use. Ask the owner or a preservationist to talk about the restoration or preservation process, the problems encountered, and the ultimate goal. Take notes and photographs of the structure and, if possible, make follow-up visits to keep a visual and written record of the progress.