Forgotten NC

Showing the beauty in the abandoned. Documenting forgotten North Carolina before Mother Nature reclaims it. Because when it's gone, it's gone.
Recent Tweets @

The Dempsey Wood House is a beautiful mid-1800s home in western Lenoir County, added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. 

In the 1850s, construction on the house began on the plantation. Though construction was interrupted by the Civil War, documents show that the house was being lived in at the time. The two most striking visual aspects of the old house are the four large chimneys and the beautiful two-story porch.

A quote from the 1971 application for the National Register of Historic Places reads: “The Dempsey Wood House is an important example of the transition between the pure Greek Revival to the more elaborate Victorian eclecticism which was becoming popular jut before the Civil War. This curious structure is one of the few houses left which clearly exhibits this change in mid-19th century taste.”

Source: NCDCR Historic Places Archives

I have heard and read about James Davis, the first printer (and many, many other things) in North Carolina. But it wasn’t until recently that I unwittingly came upon his grave at Christ Episcopal Church on Pollock St. As you can see by the inscription on his marker, he was quite important. I’ve transcribed it below.

"James Davis


Established the art of printing in the Colony of North Carolina, 1749

Public printer to the Colony and the State

Published first book, fist newspaper and first magazine in North Carolina.

Member of the Council of State

Of the General Assembly

Of the Provincial Convention

Of the Provincial Congress

And of the Committee of Safety for the County of Craven and Town of New Bern

Judge of the Admiralty Court

Justice of the County Court

Sheriff of Craven County

Postmaster and Contractor to convey the public mails from Suffolk to Wilmington

Printed currency for the colony.”

As part of my job as a photographer, I spend a lot of time driving through the countryside in Lenoir, Greene, Jones and Craven Counties while going from point a to b. When I have time, I like to try different backroads to see what there is to see. Occasionally I stumble upon something neat. These photos are some of those spots.


(Trenton, Jones Co. House has since been demolished)


A 200 year old oak tree shades an uninhabited house outside of Kinston in Lenoir Co.


Eastern Lenoir County


Lenoir County, just outside Kinston


Jones Co.


'Under Cover.' Jones Co.


Kinston, Lenoir Co.


Kinston, Lenoir Co.


Brick Kitchen Rd., Lenoir Co. (House has since been demolished)


Semi-restored shack. Jones Co.

This Old Truck

In life, sometimes the path best to take is the road less traveled. This saying can be taken literally too, as some of the most memorable sites I’ve come across were on roads less traveled. Take this great old tow truck for instance. I was hunting down a lead on some old ruins in rural Craven County when, after likely taking a wrong turn (I was following the compass on my iphone), I came across this along the road. 

Both ends of the rusted tow truck had become ‘one’ with the trees it was at one time parked near. Mother Nature decided to give this retired steel hulk a hug, it seems. And I was happy to capture it.

Oh, and those ruins I was searching for? Never found them. At least I didn’t come home empty handed.

Seen in: Craven County, NC

Brock Mill | Trenton, NC

Brock Mill in Jones County is certainly not a site that is easy to miss or fallen into such disrepair that Mother Nature has begun to reclaim it. In fact, it is in great shape and can be visited daily.

The original mill was built on this site before the Revolutionary War. According to the NC Cooperative Extension, the land was originally deeded in 1738 or 1739. The land was sold in 1779 and again in 1796. After changing hands, and names, several times over the next 100 years, Mr. Brock purchased the site (1900), which became a grist mill in 1861. Cornmeal, grits and cracked corn were produced here and a sawmill was on-site. 

In 1917, a turbine generator was installed to provide electricity for the town of Trenton until a larger utility company moved in.

Today, the building and pond can be viewed daily. The building itself is undergoing some restoration and repair to the interior. Here’s to hoping it can be enjoyed for another few hundred years!


Fresh Start

Let me be the first to admit, I have been really slack with this blog. When I started, I wanted to add a new entry every 2-3 days. Shortly after, I decided weekly. And before I knew it, I was going 2 months without a fresh post. I got overwhelmed with other projects and put Forgotten NC on the back burner. That’s not to say that I don’t have a lot of archived photos from throughout 2013 saved up and ready to go- I probably have 3 dozen locations. I have done a better job with updating the Facebook page (, but it’s on me for not having the initiative to hop on here and write. So, readers and viewers, allow me to vow to make 2014 a fresh start here. I’ll do my absolute best to post frequently (at least once a week). So without further ado, here is our first post of the year-

Marshallberg, NC | Carteret County

I took a day to drive around Down East and cut through Marshallberg on my way back toward home. After spending a bit of time in the harbor shooting old boats and just relaxing, I noticed this old house across the street. What a grand house it must have been in its prime. It would have had a view across the harbor, probably a bustling place at the time, and a view of splendid sunsets across the water. Today, it stands surrounded by brush and old trees. A reminder of the past.

Somewhere, Under the Rainbow

With photography, 75% of the battle is luck. For this shot, I got lucky by being in the right place at the right time. One of the most vivid rainbows I had seen formed across the sky and ahead of me I saw this old homestead. With some bright backlighting of the setting sun, this dramatic scene unfolded.

Lenoir Co., North Carolina

(c)2013 Zach Frailey

A few examples of old painted advertising around Eastern NC that I’ve come across in recent months. At top, a Pepsi-Cola advertisement on a barn behind the Tyndall Tractor Museum in Pink Hill. Below that, a newer Coca Cola sign on Trader’s Store in Havelock. In Greeneville’s old tobacco district, I came across an old Pepsi sign tucked away in a narrow alley. Below the Pepsi text, someone had scribbled ‘soda is wack.’ Gave me a good chuckle (see in full screen mode here). Lastly, there is a highly visible Dr. Pepper tobacco barn near the Lenoir/Greene County line that I pass frequently. After stopping to chat with the landowner, he let me tramp out into his collard field and take some shots of it. There are still remnants of tobacco curing days inside the barn.

Once Was Home | Craven County

While driving along a stretch of road that I had been all around before, but not actually on, I noticed this old home right up against the highway. Located on Spring Garden Road, just off of 43 outside of New Bern, this house is overshadowed by it’s neighbor. Just up the street sits what is probably the most photographed abandoned house in the county. If you’ve driven on 43, you’ve certainly seen the big old house at the intersection there.

Anyway, I shot a few frames of the house at the intersection, which probably won’t ever see the web, before heading down to this house. It doesn’t appear to have been abandoned for too terribly long, but long enough to become slightly overgrown. In the color version, the roof and windows are a washed out red, which was pretty eye catching.

I chose to go with a black and white textured processed version mainly to add to the moodiness of the vegetation. Most times I either come across a house that has no trees or weeds around it, or is completely overrun to the point that you can barely see the home. This one’s ‘middle staged overgrowth’ just made it feel a bit more spooky. As if someone could possibly still be in there…living under the radar. Spooky…


Near the Lenoir/Greene County line stands this old home. Usually, there are old utility poles or old wire hanging from these old houses signifying that electricity was once there. I didn’t notice any here. The field, house and lack of power reminded me of some old homestead you’d see out in the midwest. The golden sunset light didn’t hurt either :-)