Kinston, North Carolina

Kinston, North Carolina

Location of Kinston within North Carolina.
Coordinates: 35°16′14″N 77°35′6″W / 35.27056°N 77.58500°W / 35.27056; -77.58500Coordinates: 35°16′14″N 77°35′6″W / 35.27056°N 77.58500°W / 35.27056; -77.58500
  Mayor B.J. Murphy (R)
  Total 16.9 sq mi (43.7 km2)
  Land 16.7 sq mi (43.3 km2)
  Water 0.2 sq mi (0.4 km2)
Elevation 43 ft (13 m)
Population (2010)
  Total 21,677
  Density 1,416/sq mi (546.7/km2)
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
  Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP codes 28501-28504
Area code(s) 252
FIPS code 37-35920[1]
GNIS feature ID 0988015[2]

Kinston is a city in Lenoir County, North Carolina, United States. The population was 21,677 at the 2010 Census. It has been the county seat of Lenoir County since its formation in 1791.[3] Kinston is located in the coastal plains region of Eastern North Carolina.

In 2009, it was announced that Kinston is a recipient of the prestigious All-America City Award. This marks the second time in twenty years the city has won the title, the last time being in 1988.[4]


Early history

Harmony Hall, the oldest building in Kinston, was owned by North Carolina's first governor, Richard Caswell.

At the time of English settlement, the area was inhabited by the Neusiok Indians. Preceding the historic tribe, indigenous peoples of a variety of cultures had lived in the area for thousands of years. Before the English colonists established the city, they called the area Atkins Bank, referring to a bluff once owned by Robert Atkins just above the Neuse River. Atkins Bank was the site of farms, a tobacco warehouse, and a Church of England mission.

Kinston was created by an act of the North Carolina General Assembly in December 1762 as Kingston, in honor of King George III[5] who had just recently ascended to the throne. The bill to incorporate it was introduced by Richard Caswell, who made his home there and later served as the first Governor of the State of North Carolina from 1776 to 1780. After victory in the American Revolution, the citizens renamed the city Kinston in 1784 to show the population's disavowal of royalty. In 1833, Kinston briefly became Caswell, in honor of governor Richard Caswell, but the name was reverted to Kinston the following year.

Commissioners appointed to design the town began to accept "subscriptions" for numbered lots. To keep a lot, subscribers were required to build brick homes of specific dimensions within three years or lose their rights to the property. The town was laid out with border streets named East, North, and South, with the western border the Neuse River. The two principal roads within these borders were named for King George and Queen Charlotte. They remain King and Queen Street to this day. Other streets were named in honor of Governor Dobbs (later renamed Independent Street) and the commissioners.

In December 1791, an act was passed in the General Assembly to abolish Dobbs County and form Lenoir and Glasgow counties. At that time, Kinston was designated the county seat for Lenoir County.

Throughout this period, Kinston was an unincorporated town. It finally became incorporated through an act of the legislature in January 1849. Following incorporation, the population grew rapidly. In 1850, the population was estimated at 455 people, and just ten years later, it had more than doubled to over one thousand.

Civil War

During the onset of the American Civil War, Camp Campbell and Camp Johnston were established near the city as training camps, and a bakery on Queen Street was converted to produce hardtack in large quantities. There was also a factory for the production of shoes for the military located in Kinston. The Battle of Kinston took place in and around the city on December 14, 1862.

The Battle of Wyse Fork aka 'Battle of Southwest Creek' (March 7–10, 1865) also occurred very near the city. It was at this later battle that the Confederate Ram Neuse was scuttled to avoid capture by Union troops. Remnants of the ship have been salvaged, and are on display at Richard Caswell Park on West Vernon Ave. A climate-controlled museum has been built on downtown Queen Street, and has moved the hulk there to prevent further deterioration of the original ship's remains. A full-scale replica vessel (Ram Neuse II) has been constructed near the original's resting place (known as the "Cat's Hole") beside the bank of the Neuse River on Heritage St. in Kinston. Union Army forces occupied the city following the battle.

United States troops were assigned to the area through the Reconstruction Era.


Despite the hardships of war and Reconstruction, the population of the city continued to grow. By 1870, the population had increased to eleven hundred people and grew to more than seventeen hundred within a decade.

During the late nineteenth century, there was expansion into new areas of industry, most notably the production of horse-drawn carriages. Kinston also became a major tobacco and cotton trading center. By the start of the twentieth century, more than five million pounds of tobacco were being sold annually in Kinston's warehouses. Along with the growth in population and industry was a growth in property values. Some parcels increased in value more than fivefold within a twenty-year period.

20th Century

New industries were founded, including lumber and cotton mills, as North Carolina businessmen invested in processing their own crops. Professional sports was introduced in the form of a minor league baseball team. Later growth would come in the form of a DuPont plant for the manufacture of polyester fibers, and manufacturing plants for pharmaceuticals. Growth finally slowed following the 1960s, with the shift in textile production overseas. Efforts to reinvigorate the economy through various means have had limited success.

Kinston was heavily impacted by flooding in 1996 and 1999. Hurricane Fran struck the North Carolina coast on September 5, 1996 and brought 16 inches (406 mm) of rain to the area.,[6] causing the Neuse River to flood portions of the city. On September 16, 1999, Hurricane Floyd struck the area, bringing 17 inches (430 mm) of rain. It caused what locals have called "The Flood of the Century."[7]

The National Register of Historic Places lists the American Tobacco Company Prizery, Atlantic and North Carolina Railroad Freight Depot, Baptist Parsonage, Robert L. Blalock House, B. W. Canady House, CSS Neuse, Hill-Grainger Historic District, Hotel Kinston, Jesse Jackson House, Kennedy Memorial Home Historic District, Kinston Apartments, Kinston Baptist-White Rock Presbyterian Church, Kinston Battlefield, Kinston Commercial Historic District, Kinston Fire Station-City Hall, Lenoir County Courthouse, Mitchelltown Historic District, Peebles House, Peoples Bank Building, Queen-Gordon Streets Historic District, Standard Drug No. 2, Sumrell and McCoy Building, Trianon Historic District, Tull-Worth-Holland Farm, and Dempsey Wood House.[8]


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 201521,337[9]−1.6%
U.S. Decennial Census[10]

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 21,677 people residing in the city. The racial makeup of the city was 67.7% Black, 27.8% White, 0.2% Native American, 0.7% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 0.1% from some other race and 1.1% from two or more races. 2.4% were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 23,688 people, 9,829 households, and 6,074 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,415.7 people per square mile (546.7/km²). There were 11,229 housing units at an average density of 671.1 per square mile (259.1/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 35.27% White, 62.64% African American, 0.16% Native American, 0.57% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 0.66% from other races, and 0.67% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.14% of the population.

There were 9,829 households out of which 28.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.7% were married couples living together, 22.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.2% were non-families. 34.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.29 and the average family size was 2.94.

In the city the population was spread out with 24.4% under the age of 18, 7.3% from 18 to 24, 24.9% from 25 to 44, 24.5% from 45 to 64, and 18.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 81.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 74.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $26,630, and the median income for a family was $35,867. Males had a median income of $28,688 versus $21,442 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,779. About 19.7% of families and 23.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 32.0% of those under age 18 and 18.9% of those age 65 or over.

Government and infrastructure

The North Carolina Department of Public Safety (formerly the North Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention) operates the Dobbs Youth Development Center juvenile correctional facility in Kinston. The facility, which opened in 1944, serves both boys. The prisoner capacity is 44.[11]


As with most of North Carolina, Kinston is predominately Protestant with large concentrations of Baptists, Methodists, and various other evangelical groups. Episcopalians, Presbyterians, and Disciples of Christ also constitute a significant portion of the population.

The Roman Catholic community in Kinston has seen steady growth over the years with the migration of Hispanic workers to the area. Also, Catholic migrants have also come from the northeastern United States who work for the North Carolina Global TransPark and in nearby Greenville, North Carolina.

Kinston at one time had a sizeable Jewish community. As with most Jewish communities in the rural South, it has seen a steady decline. Temple Israel, Kinston's only synagogue, has only 20 members (families) and does not have a rabbi.


Public college

Private college

Public schools

Private schools


Heritage Place, a regional access for The NC Department of Archives, is located in the rear of Lenoir Community College's Library. It houses a large collection of local and regional family histories, numerous books on local, state, and US history, newspapers, etc. Plans are currently underway change operating hours to include Saturdays and some evenings. This is a wonderful repository for your family's genealogical records. The Neuse Regional Library system is headquartered in Kinston and operates branches in Kinston, LaGrange, Pink Hill, as well as locations in Greene and Jones Counties.[12]

The CSS Neuse, listed on the National Register of Historic Places,[8] and Caswell Memorial house the remains of the hull of the Confederate ironclad. A video detailing the history of the CSS Neuse is available for viewing at the Caswell Memorial. The Lenoir County Confederate Memorial, the Caswell family cemetery, and the Lenoir County Korean and Vietnam War Memorial are located at the site. There is also a Civil War Trails marker.[13]

The Cultural Heritage Museum (CHM) was organized in the winter of 2000 on South Queen Street as a new economic development catalyst for Kinston, Lenoir County and eastern North Carolina. The heritage tourism project was created to recognize the contributions of African Americans in numerous fields. It pays tribute to the more than 200,000 black soldiers and 7,000 white officers of the United States Colored Troops who fought with the Union forces in the American Civil War. It also honors black military veterans from all wars, Carl Long and the Negro Baseball League players, local heroes, and Africa and Black History in general. The CHM intends to generate jobs and promote economic expansion opportunities.[14]

One of Kinston's most notable and beautiful facilities is Grainger Hill Performing Arts Center or GPAC. This historic edifice has been restored and is host to national and local theater groups and performances. It is available for bookings.

Kinston is also home to notable restaurants and a successful craft brewery. Kings BBQ is located on Highway 70 East near Lenoir Community College and has been a popular stop among locals and for people traveling to the beach for decades. The Chef & the Farmer restaurant is located in Kinston. A reality cooking show, A Chef's Life, focuses on the restaurant and owners, Vivian Howard and Ben Knight. The Barn steakhouse and The Baron and the Beef are both fine dining establishments featuring locally sourced produce and meats on their menus and supporting sustainable agriculture. Also a proponent of sustainable practices and local ingredients, Mother Earth Brewing was founded in Kinston in the summer of 2008. Other businesses include Buy Local Gallery, The Overland Gallery, Ginger 108, Olvera Street Tacos, Boiler Room Oysters and Burgers, O'Neil Bed and Breakfast, The Bentley B&B, and Lenoir County Farmers Market.

Since 1882, The Kinston Free Press has been published in Kinston.

Local attactions include CSS Neuse Museum, Neuseway Nature Center, Kinston Dog Park, Kinston Country Club Est 1924, Annual BBQ Festival on the River in May, Kinston Center for the Arts, New Arts District Neighborhood, Grainger Hill Performing Arts Center, Global Transit Park (GTP), a combined airport and industrial complex developed by the state in Lenoir County; Grainger Stadium; Caswell Center, and Lenoir Memorial Hospital. Kinstons' Bill Fay Park is home to the Annual Allen Pearson Foundation Softball Tournament held each year annually during the first weekend in October. Annual festivities in Kinston include the Sand in the Streets concert series held at Pearson Park, the popular train rides, nature center, and planetarium located at Neuseway Park, and the Festival on the Neuse.

Sports and recreation


Kinston's Grainger Stadium is home to the Down East Wood Ducks, a Class A-Advanced Minor League Baseball team of the Carolina League that will begin play in 2017.[15] It was previously home to the Kinston Indians minor league baseball team as well as youth and college level baseball tournaments. The town first hosted professional baseball in 1908, and among the many alumni is Rick Ferrell who was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, Manny Ramirez and Lonnie Chisenhall.[16]

The Kinston Drag Strip hosts a variety of motor sports events throughout the year. Kinston has three golf courses: the Kinston Country Club, Falling Creek Country Club, and Bill Fay Park Par 3 Golf Course. Barnet Park is home to Kinston Disc Golf. Fairfield Park has the Sprayground. The "Galaxy of Sports" is a recreational facility including a bowling alley, skating rink, and a health club. As of 2012, Woodmen of the World constructed the Woodmen of the World Community Center, complete with three water slides, an olympic sized swimming pool, several corporate reception areas and conference rooms, as well as a quarter-mile elevated track and several sporting courts.

In 1956, Kinston was the site of a rare, perfect game of billiards, as Willie Mosconi sank 150 balls in a row in one inning against Jimmy Moore.[17]

Parks and recreation

The city contains the following parks:[18]




Notable people

See also


  • Cooper, Edwin B., Jr., et al. (eds.) (1981). The Heritage of Lenoir County. The Lenoir County Historical Association. ISBN 0-89459-155-X. 
  • Johnson, Talmage C.; Charles R. Holloman (1954). The Story of Kinston and Lenoir County. Edwards and Broughton Company. ASIN B000FRTZB8. 
  • Kohler, Mike (1976). 200 Years of Progress: A Report of the History and Achievements of the People of Lenoir County, 1776-1976. Kinston-Lenoir County Bicentennial Commission. ASIN B0006CVK5G. 
  • Little, M. Ruth; Robbie D. Jones (1998). Coastal Plain and Fancy: The Historic Architecture of Lenoir County and Kinston, North Carolina. The Lenoir County Historical Association. ISBN 0-9668319-0-X. 
  • Powell, William S. (1963). Annals of Progress: The Story of Lenoir County and Kinston, North Carolina. State Department of Archives and History. ISBN 0-86526-124-5. 


  1. 1 2 "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  2. "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  3. "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  4. "Overview". ENC Today Website. 2009-06-20. Archived from the original on 2011-07-10.
  5. Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off. p. 176.
  6. Hurricane Fran - September 3-9, 1996
  7. North Carolina School Video Catalog The Neuse River (35.270676, -77.585130)
  8. 1 2 National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
  9. "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2015". Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  10. "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  11. "Youth Development Centers." North Carolina Department of Public Safety. Retrieved on December 16, 2015. "Dobbs Youth Development Center 3060 Dobbs Farm Road Kinston, N. C. 28504"
  12. Branch Libraries of the Neuse Regional Library System
  13. CSS Neuse State Historic Site
  14. Culturalheritagemuseum.Org
  15. Speddon, Zach (August 23, 2016). "Excitement Builds in Kinston". Ballpark Digest. Retrieved September 20, 2016.
  16. Dalimonte, David E. "Kinston Has a Rich Tradition in Baseball". Retrieved 2008-03-20.
  17. ""Willie Mosconi, 80, Who Ruled The World of Billiards With Style", New York Times". The New York Times. September 18, 1993.
  18. Lenoir County North Carolina Parks
  19. "Edward Louis "Ed" Grady – obituary". The Cherokee One Feather. December 13, 2012. Retrieved July 25, 2016.

External links

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