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Volunteers are essential at Kennedy Home


Historic Heritage

Cedar Dell is one of the most significant residences in Lenoir County, NC. In 1832, the plantation house was built on 1,240 acres of farm land by Mr. and Mrs. Issac Croom. The first recorded resident was Henry Herring. His son George Herring sold Cedar Dell to Thomas Jefferson Kennedy in 1855. His family, including son William Lafayette Kennedy, made Cedar Dell their residence. Following his service as a Confederate Army captain in the War Between the States, William returned to the farm and later married Emily Hardee. The couple added a stylish Victorian addition to the home in the 1880s.


A Legacy of Hope

Having no children of their own, the Kennedys decided to give their residence and farm to the Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina (BCH) to become an orphanage. The new deed was registered in 1912 with the couple reserving their right to live in the house and receive an annuity during their lifetimes. Building plans began immediately to transform the property into Kennedy Memorial Home, a haven of hope for hurting children. The orphanage, BCH’s second location, opened its doors on June 5, 1914.

Attention to Detail

Cedar Dell is listed in the National Register of Historic Places along with nearly all of the Kennedy Home property. Visitors will want to pay attention to many details of Cedar Dell from the beautifully patterned slate roof to the exposed areas on the third floor which exhibit the dove jointed flooring and the crawfoot dovetail jointing of the rafters. Some of the most interesting details of the house include the carved walnut newel post and banister, blown glass window panes, etched glass transom over the double front doors, the lacy Victorian spindlework screens on the first floor, the mantlepiece and fireplace tiles, the mahogany furniture in the memorial dining room (along with its decorative and serving pieces), and the Victorian back porch bathroom. The grounds contain an outside original kitchen, a necessary house, one of the original slave quarter houses and a carriage house. These along with the main house and farm lands provide a historic representation of a working plantation.



Schedule A Tour of Cedar Dell

Tours are available for groups of 10 or more guests and are subject to schedule availability.

Please submit your request below and one of our staff members will be in touch shortly. Thank you for your interest in Cedar Dell.

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To donate to the preservation of Cedar Dell, contact Kennedy Home at or click here to donate now.

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