About Us

The Penelope Barker House Welcome center. Home of the EHC and the Gift Shop that supports their non-profit.

The Penelope Barker House Welcome Center is a historical home in Edenton, NC run by the Edenton Historical Commision. All proceeds from our Gift Shop go towards supporting the EHC staff and the amazing work they do. With gifts for any occasion, here you can purchase items you will cherish while supporting Historical Edenton.

Penelope Barker House Welcome Center

Your first stop while visiting Edenton should be at the Penelope Barker House Welcome Center, home of Penelope Barker, the courageous organizer of the first (1774) political action by women in western cultures.  In the heart of Historic Edenton and situated at the base of South Broad Street alongside Edenton Bay, the house serves as “Edenton’s Living Room” to the benefit of visitors and locals alike. The Edenton Historical Commission is housed in the Penelope Barker House Welcome Center and the commission has taken the lead in preserving and exploring the history of Edenton and Chowan County. Our mission is to preserve and educate our visitors on the history of our area, as well as help guide you on your visit. The staff and volunteers at the Penelope Barker House look forward to your visit and hope you'll stop in for a chat soon!


Background and Mission of the Commission

The Edenton Historical Commission is not your traditional not-for-profit group. We were created by the General Assembly of North Carolina in 1961 and are recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501 (c)(3) tax-exempt organization. In other words, we were created by the state but are not a state agency and donations to the Commission are tax deductible for the donor’s income tax purposes (follow the advice of your tax advisor).

We do not receive routine funding from state or federal governments. From time to time, the Town of Edenton and Chowan County have contributed to our work, which we greatly appreciated. But, well over 95% of our funding comes from the people just like you: people interested in preservation of historical public buildings and more importantly, learning about the stories of the important leaders that guided the development and growth of the colony, the state and the nation.

The Commission has 33 members. The Governor appoints 22 commissioners, the Speaker of the House appoints four, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate appoints four and three positions are filled, ex officio.

The North Carolina General Assembly’s 1961 Act creating the Edenton Historical Commission reads, in part: “to effect and encourage preservation, restoration, and appropriate presentation of the Town of Edenton and Chowan County, as a historic, educational and aesthetic place, to the benefit of the citizens of the place and state and of visitors” (G.S. 143B-95)


 Made Possible By

You!! Every donation, every purchase, and every volunteer hour "spent" goes to support the staff, historic restoration/ preservation, student outreach/ sponsorship, lectures and all other programs made possible by the Edenton Historical Commission. We currently have 2 full time positions and 2 part-time positions that rely solely on sales from the Gift Shop, so you know that every purchase you make from the Gift Shop is supporting the Edenton Historical Commission. The Penelope Barker House Gift Shop carries a wide selection of items that are appropriate for almost every occasion... shop with us today to show your support!!

Edenton is blessed with a rich cultural history dating back well before the American Revolution. Edenton served the colony’s capitol and main commercial center during the first half of the 18th century. Craftsmen--some native born, some immigrants, some in bondage--created the elegant houses and furniture for which the town is now known. Edenton is truly one of the South’s most beautiful towns and is located on the Albemarle Sound, in eastern North Carolina.  In addition to our local student engagement, we are one of only a few locations in the country that publish scholarly articles on Southern culture.  In our Decorative Arts section of, you will find articles on regional southern architecture, furniture, and historic trades. From the Perquimans County cabinetmaker who searched for the best location to practice his craft, to the African American house joiner who lived between the worlds of slavery and freedom as he created striking houses based on a New England pattern book, we have a bit of everything! Delve in and enjoy the Edenton adventure, starting with our latest article!