Fun Facts

A lot has happened in our town since its founding in 1710. Below are some of the highlights from the past 300 years that make New Bern such a fun place to learn about and explore.

Founded in 1710, New Bern is the second oldest town in North Carolina.

The Swiss and German settlement of New Bern was named in honor of the founder’s home, Bern, Switzerland. When Bern, Switzerland was founded, it was named by a group of hunters. They named the city for the first animal they came upon on their hunting expedition. It was a bear. Bern is the old Germanic word for Bear, and the bear became the symbol of the city. It has been adopted by New Bern, as well.

New Bern is home to the First State Capital of North Carolina, Tryon Palace.
New Bern was the first city in America to celebrate George Washington’s birthday. Washington visited New Bern and danced at the Tryon Palace.

The interior of Christ Episcopal Church was designed in the style of Christopher Wren, the famous English architect. It is a must see for visitors.

The state’s first printing press was set up on the corner of Broad Street and Middle Street in New Bern in 1749.
In 1778 the first public banking institution in North Carolina was established in New Bern.
In 1783 the state’s first bookstore opened in New Bern.
North Carolina’s first Postal Service was established in New Bern in 1790.
North Carolina’s First Presbyterian Church organization and building in Presbytery was established in New Bern in 1817.
New Bern is home to the first Roman Catholic Church and parish in North Carolina.
Pepsi was invented and first served in New Bern in 1898 by local pharmacist Caleb Bradham.
Bayard Wootten, the groundbreaking female photographer, designed the first Pepsi-Cola logo.
The first motion picture theatre in North Carolina was built in New Bern.
On June 4th, 1903, Josephine Burton of Craven County became the first Registered Nurse in North Carolina and therefore the first Registered Nurse in the United States.

Havelock is home of Marine Base Cherry Point. Cherry Point is one of the country’s largest Marine Corps air stations, occupying nearly 16,000 acres.

In the 1950’s Elvis and his small band performed in New Bern. During his stint here, he played at the Sudan Temple for a sold-out one night show, and ate lunch at the drug store on the corner where the Chelsea Restaurant is now located.
New Bern native, Samuel J. Battle was the first African-American policeman in New York City.
New Bern native and NFL football player Bob Mann, was the first African-American to play for the Detroit Lions, and later the Green Bay Packers.
New Bern has over 150 sites included in the National Register of Historic Places.
Stretching 248 miles, the Neuse River is the longest river in North Carolina; at its mouth, it is the widest river in America at 6 miles across.
The four-faced turn-of-the-century Baxter clock located on Pollock Street is extremely rare; it is one of three Seth Thomas post clocks still in use and is now listed on the National Register.
In 1996 The Notebook, set in New Bern and written by New Bern resident Nicholas Sparks, was the first novel in America to be on both the hardcover and paperback bestseller lists for over a year.

In 2011 The North Carolina History Center opened and is currently classified as one of the greenest public buildings in North Carolina.

New Bern is home to the first Chartered Fire Department in North Carolina.