Antebellum Homes and Plantations

The most popular images of antebellum life are grand plantation houses — but, as we’ve seen, a tiny fraction of North Carolinians lived in such houses. North Carolinians were mostly poor white farmers (about 75% of the white population in 1860) and enslaved black laborers (about one-third of North Carolina's total population in 1860). Many of these people did not own land, much less their own homes.

Even the smallest of the historic houses would have been home to a farmer who owned land in North Carolina. The very poorest lived in houses that were not designed to survive. They were made of lower-quality materials, built on someone else's land, or were not built by a professional carpenter. These factors decreased a home's chance of survival. 

Included in this page's panels are resources that describe life in Antebellum North Carolina for all social classes. There are also resources that describe the types of homes in which the people of Antebellum North Carolina would have lived.