A Bern-ing Desire

New Bern Travel Blog

 › entry 44 of 56 › view all entries
Charming colonial alley in New Bern, NC.

It is almost Christmas and I have a free hotel night to use.  Fortunately I subscribe to a bi-weekly blurb of state-wide activities from the North Carolina Board of Tourism and they provide good coverage of holiday happenings.  The “Christmas by Candlelight” event in New Bern caught my eye and redeeming lodging here proved to be a piece of cake.  New Bern here I come.

The gala was to be held in Tryon Palace, New Bern’s most prestigious and well-known attraction.  Sadly, I was completely unaware.  My family had stopped twice to dine in town on our way to other destinations and never dug deeper, which proved to be a mistake.

Turns out the town was settled by Swiss immigrants in 1710 and named after Bern, Switzerland.

Tryon Palace, New Bern, NC
  This fact intrigued me as I had never heard of 'Swiss' immigrants to the USA, especially transplanting when North Carolina was a British colony?  The saga turns out to be yet another wrinkle in the history of religious persecution.  Would you believe English Protestants fled to Switzerland in the 1500’s to escape the Catholic wrath of Queen Mary I?  Descendants of these emigrants apparently maintained good relations with relations in the home land, resulting in an opportunity to relocate to the New World.

Apparently anxious to converse in the native tongue again, a band of these folks sailed away, choosing the strategic point where two rivers converged into the Atlantic Ocean.  The prosperous location led to New Bern becoming the capital of the North Carolina Colony, a title it would retain through the American Revolution.

Garden behind Tryon Palace
  Despite being the first state capital for North Carolina, its title would be relinquished to Raleigh before George Washington completed his two terms as the first president of the fledgling United States.

Tryon Palace was an elaborate mansion built as the home for William Tryon around 1770.  A Brit of minor royalty who distinguished himself in the military (particularly during conflicts in France during the Seven Years War), Tryon originally relocated to America as Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina.  When the existing Governor passed away, Tryon ascended to the role of top dog in the colony.  England allotted 5,000 pounds to erect a home, but Tryon’s discussions with his architect quickly revealed that would only satisfy about half of his vision.

Drawbridge closing over one of many bridges around New Bern's harbor
  Can you guess what happened next?  Of course Tryon levied taxes upon the North Carolina citizenry and the disgruntled populace would forever brand his structure as the Tryon “Palace”.

Once completed, the governor and his family would only reside here for thirteen months before being re-assigned as governor of New York.  Tryon maintained this title through much of the American Revolution.  I was astonished to learn that after the fight began, Tryon conspired in a plot to assassinate George Washington!  The scheme obviously failed, though one participant was executed.  Quite fascinating, I never knew.

Tryon would morph back into leading military expeditions, in charge of successful campaigns in New York and Connecticut.  I find it disgusting that Tryon’s pivotal tactic was targeting civilians (i.

The pharmacy where Pepsi Cola was invented!
e., women and children), though this strategy was not approved by the British government.

I’ve dwelled enough upon Tryon, but New Bern has more history to share.  Pepsi Cola was born here!  Pharmacist Caleb Bradham concocted the beverage at his drug store here in 1898.  Of course they have reconstructed the pharmacy and it is another tourist draw, but peeking through the windows I did not detect much to investigate (and confess I prefer Coca Cola).

Bottom line is that New Bern is a delightful colonial town well worth wandering about.  Of course I was here for the Christmas by Candlelight tour of Tryon Palace, so I will allow the below reviews do the rest of the sales pitch for visiting this lovely spot.

mountaingirl says:
Nice title and write up :)
Posted on: Jul 25, 2016
holdmyhandsforever says:
I agree with Kuya Armand. The title is sooo cool! :)
Posted on: Feb 04, 2016
Caliber-A says:
i like the title of this article...what a candlelight christmas in bern...really a burning desire!
Posted on: Jan 17, 2016
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Charming colonial alley in New Ber…
Charming colonial alley in New Be…
Tryon Palace, New Bern, NC
Tryon Palace, New Bern, NC
Garden behind Tryon Palace
Garden behind Tryon Palace
Drawbridge closing over one of man…
Drawbridge closing over one of ma…
The pharmacy where Pepsi Cola was …
The pharmacy where Pepsi Cola was…
There was one of those themed stat…
There was one of those themed sta…
Church in downtown New Bern.
Church in downtown New Bern.
Lovely church yard with Christmas …
Lovely church yard with Christmas…
Nice combination of colonial build…
Nice combination of colonial buil…
One of many lovely fireplaces insi…
One of many lovely fireplaces ins…
Absolutely every room in Tryon Pal…
Absolutely every room in Tryon Pa…
A parlor with ladies clothing laid…
A parlor with ladies clothing lai…
Stairwell in Tryon Palace.  The gu…
Stairwell in Tryon Palace. The g…
Learning about ironing in the old …
Learning about ironing in the old…
Around the corner at the birthplac…
Around the corner at the birthpla…
Heres another bear by New Berns …
Here's another bear by New Bern's…
Plenty of interesting structures s…
Plenty of interesting structures …
New Bern Hotels & Accommodations review
Shore is Nice
An impressive lodging option. I scored this as a comp and being unfamiliar with the chain, did not expect much for the reasonable price point. My fi… read entire review
New Bern Sights & Attractions review
You should try this on…
The sumptuous homestead for a governor of the colony of North Carolina (when New Bern was the capital), touring Tryon Palace is a grand expedition. M… read entire review
New Bern Restaurants, Cafes & Food review
Bottom Feeder
Great location, cheerful service and fresh seafood. That pretty much sums up good points around Stingray Café and it is downhill from there. Sittin… read entire review
New Bern Sights & Attractions review
Leave the light on
May seem an unnecessary supplement to the Tryon Palace review, but this annual event is a both a significant departure and a wonderful celebration des… read entire review
New Bern Restaurants, Cafes & Food review
Fight for a Slice!
Savage was an appropriate name. I made an unwise decision to abandon the Christmas by Candlelight environs and seek a sit-down dinner while waiting f… read entire review
New Bern
photo by: vances