Rich in agriculture and rich in Civil War history, Johnston County offers visitors several museums as well as heritage events throughout the year.· Add in a little Hollywood glamour to our heritage and visitors will find plenty to entertain them during a visit.
The local history of Benson is displayed and interpreted with with new exhibits at the Benson Museum of Local History located along the main street of this charming town which built up around the railroad in 1886.· For the county's history and themed exhibits rotated several times a year, visitors may choose the Johnston County Heritage Center - both museum are free, but please check on hours of operation before visiting.
The Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site interprets the three day battle (March 19-21, 1865) which was the largest Civil War Battle fought in North Carolina and the last major Confederate offensive prior to the surrender in Appomattox, VA, April 1865. The site includes a museum, the Harper House, cemetery, Union earthworks, and several driving pull-offs on several thousands acres.
The Tobacco Farm Life Museum in Kenly has been honoring the local farmer for over 25 years with exhibits, a restored farmhouse, a one-room school house, tobacco barn, packhouse and a blacksmith shop. Visitors will learn how local farmers lived off the land, and how the community thrived, worshipped and attended school.
Visitors interested in our Hollywood connection will discover the Ava Gardner Museum in downtown Smithfield, which showcases the life and career of Ava Gardner. She was born just seven miles east of Smithfield in the farming community of Brogden, where Ava's family ran a board house for teachers, and would become one of screen's legends. Today the museum houses a collection of movie memorabilia including movie posters, costumes and artifacts from Ava's personal life.
All this and more can be found on the towns' websites.