There is, on a small street, a little peach colored house sitting on a hill, surrounded by trees and several small buildings, in a calm peaceful park. The road is called Mimosa Street, and the house was once the home of not one, but two families, who played major roles in North Carolinian and American history. The house is now known as The Mordecai House, and is one of the oldest houses in the city.
Built in 1785, it predates the American Constitution and the house and the surrounding land was originally a wedding present by Joel Lane for his son, Henry Lane and his new bride Martha Hinton. Joel Lane is known as the owner of the land used to found the city of Raleigh itself.
The original house consisted of two rooms, a hall and parlor, and a half story for storage. The couple and their four daughters lived in the home until the death of Henry Lane, and the house was left vacant until the marriage of the couple’s oldest daughter, Peggy, to Moses Modecai, whose family had recently moved to start a seminary for girls.
The couple moved into the family home, accompanied by Peggy’s sisters, Moses’ younger brother, George W. Mordecai, and soon to be joined with the couple’s three children. Moses, noticing the slight problem with the living quarters, prudently planned to eventually renovate the house and give the family some much needed space. Sadly, before these renovations began, the family suffered the deaths of both Peggy and Moses within a three year period, between 1821 and 1824.
Ownership of the home eventually went to Moses’ oldest son, Henry, under whose stewardship the plantation grew to its zenith prior to the American Civil War. Following the conflict, Henry’s youngest daughter, Martha (Patty), became the owner of the house and having no heirs of her own, Patty left the house to her nephew, Burke Haywood Little, who owned the house until his death in 1968, when the house was given to city of Raleigh for public enjoyment.
What is amazing the families who lived here, was their subtle, yet influential involvement with North Carolinian history. The renovations of the house were designed by William Nichols, who designed the state capital after the original burnt down. Moses and George W. Mordecai were members of major renovations and business organizations within the city, that worked to make Raleigh a model city of the American South.
While it must be said that they were as much of a instigator of social problems, with their extensive use of slavery to drive their fortunes, the families still left a great mark in the history of North Carolina, and for the United States.