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Bath Tricentennial Collection

In 2005 Bath, North Carolina, celebrated three-hundred years since its incorporation. It is interesting to note how the town has marked its own history over the years. Little was done to preserve Bath's colonial past until the early twentieth century. While visitors would come to see the old town of Bath, they found interesting historic structures in varying states of disrepair. After the publication of a 1905 souvenir calendar in honor of Bath's 200th anniversary, people began to think about preserving the town's history. Between 1905 and 1955, plans were floated for restoring several of the town's historic structures, and work began on restoring St. Thomas Episcopal Church (1734-35), the oldest church in North Carolina. However, it wasn't until after the highly successful—even if last minute—celebration of Bath's 250th anniversary in 1955 that restoration began in earnest. By the early 1960s, Bath had opened the Palmer-Marsh and Bonner houses to the public and soon these and other structures became the Historic Bath State Historic Site. Bath's celebration of its past continued by highlighting its pirate connections when, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the outdoor drama Blackbeard: Knight of the Black Flag was produced. The documents presented here illustrate these changing ideas about preserving Bath's colonial history over the past century and more.