Ila's Kitchen Garden

Named for Ila Cowan, one of the founders of the Museum, our delightful garden is used for STEAMA programs. The public is welcome to pick our herbs and vegetables!

The garden was made possible by the NC Science Museums Grant Program, through the NC DNCR, the local NC Co-Opertaive Extension, and our beloved volunteers.


Originally a corn crib, onsite is a mid-19th century building now used as the Museum’s schoolhouse. It was made of hand-hewed timbers chinked together and is representative of many one-room schoolhouses that were used in Duplin County. Donated by the Bill Jones family.

Cowan Museum of History and Science

Joann Cowan Brown Botanical Garden

Designed and implemented by Habitats Gardens, LLC and B+O Design Studio, PLLC. Made possible by a grant from the NC Science Museums Grant Program, through the NC DNCR.

Blacksmith Shop

The Museum's blacksmith shop is a reproduction and was built on the grounds in the 1990s. It represents what was a necessary structure for many old farm home sites.

Tobacco Barn

The tobacco barn, a type of functionally classified barn found in the United States, was once an essential component in the process of air-curing tobacco. Built in 1925, our tobacco barn was used until 1978. Donated by the Grover Rhodes family.

General Store / Post Office

Additionally onsite is the 19th century general store and Natural Wells Post Office donated by the Stephen Boone family. It was once operated by James C. Boone of Duplin County and used until ca. 1905. The general store was also renovated and we invite visitors to sit down and play a game of checkers.


Meats (especially pork) were commonly preserved with salt. A small smoky fire was kept going for several days to further cure the meat. Other foods, like apple butter and pickles, were also stored here in crocks or barrels.

This building was donated in 1985 by Edith B. Hoy and Rachel McNeill in memory of Abb J. Blanton. It had been located off Hwy 24 in Kenansville.

Log Cabin

Built in the late 1930s by Dr. W. Dallas Herring of Rose Hill, the cabin represents a typical home used by settlers before the Revolutionary War. Until its move to the Museum, it was used for Dr. Herring’s office; for the Wallace Town Library; Boy Scouts meetings; and was also located on the James Sprunt Community College campus in Kenansville.

Dr. Herring is considered the philosophical godfather of North Carolina’s Community College System and is best known for his belief that education should be available
to all.

In May 2018, the log cabin's repairs and renovations were completed, thanks to a generous grant from the NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (NC DNCR).