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Preserve America is a national initiative in cooperation with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation; the U.S. Departments of Defense, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, and Education; the National Endowment for the Humanities; the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities; and the President's Council on Environmental Quality.

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Preserve America Community:
Thomasville, North Carolina

Established in 1852, Thomasville (population 25,400) celebrated its 150th birthday in 2002. An 1840s decision to pass a State tax to fund a railroad system through the area led to the founding of the community. North Carolina State Senator John W. Thomas had the foresight to realize this would be a great place to start a community, right along the tracks in almost the geographic center of the State.

The oldest remaining railroad depot in North Carolina is in downtown Thomasville. Built in 1870, the restored structure is on the National Register of Historic Places. It currently houses the Thomasville Visitors' Center. Thomasville, known as the "Chair City," has a long, distinguished history of furniture manufacturing.

Its best-known site is a 30-foot replica of a Duncan Phyfe armchair, one of three local historic landmarks. The chair, located in the heart of downtown Thomasville, is not only symbolic of the furniture industry's presence in the area, but has also held the distinction of being called the world's largest chair.

In 1960, the Thomasville Chair gained national attention when vice-presidential hopeful Lyndon B. Johnson stopped to greet local supporters from atop the chair while on a campaign whistle stop.

Thomasville's city cemetery is believed to be the only cemetery with Confederate and Federal soldiers buried in a common grave. Thomasville hosts North Carolina's oldest festival, "Everybody's Day," each September. The festival grew from an annual attendance of 25,000 to 70,000 after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

A self-guided walking tour as well as group tours, organized through the joint efforts of the Historic Preservation and Tourism Commissions, have helped the local economic picture during a downturn in the furniture manufacturing industry. Design guidelines and an architectural inventory of historic resources have increased public awareness of the importance of preservation, and work is underway to nominate Thomasville's downtown historic district to the National Register of Historic Places.

For more information

City of Thomasville: www.ci.thomasville.nc.us

Thomasville Tourism Commission: www.thomasvilletourism.com

Posted May 12, 2009

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