The best way to view monuments is, of course, in person. But some significant commemorative landscapes no longer exist and so it is impossible to experience them firsthand. These vanished landscapes were created and organized as expressions of ideas about history, patriotism, and commemoration that are often different from those of present-day North Carolina. Another reason these vanished landscapes are interesting is because earlier generations of visitors to North Carolina's monuments often moved through landscapes different than those that exist at the same sites today.
Three virtual tours of the Guilford Courthouse Battle site, one of the most significant commemorative landscapes in North Carolina, illustrate many important themes in the history of commemoration. Together, the three tours highlight the myriad ways in which change transforms and alters commemorative sites that were intended to be timeless.
This set of interactive maps highlights the changes around the most symbolically significant commemorative space in the state – the State Capitol. Between 1880 and 1920, the Capitol grounds became dotted with monuments. At the same time, the area around the Capitol underwent rapid development. Sanborn® Fire Insurance maps, which provide a wonderfully detailed inventory of buildings around the Capitol, enable us to see clearly the changes in the built environment. Furthermore, the geographic placement of contemporary postcards and photographs onto the maps provides us with some idea of how contemporaries saw and experienced the commemorative landscape of the Capitol.
This virtual tour, built using Google Maps, features monuments and commemorative spaces on the University of North Carolina's campus at Chapel Hill. The suggested walking tour visits each of the 17 monuments in this area. This map can also be downloaded as a KML file to be opened and viewed in Google Earth.