Fayetteville’s roots can be traced to the settlements established on the Cape Fear River. Campbelltown was founded in 1762 by the North Carolina General Assembly, while Cross Creek was initially built for trading purposes. In 1783, these towns merged, and they were called Fayetteville after Marquis de Lafayette, an American Revolutionary hero.
Fayetteville grew to become the center of political activities in the late 1700s. In 1786, a new prison and courthouse were constructed. The Fayetteville Gazette, the city’s first publication, began operations in 1789. Residents of North Carolina thought of making Fayetteville the capital of the state in 1788. A year after the University of North Carolina was chartered by the General Assembly, they surrendered the western part of the state to Tennessee. The General Assembly keep meeting in the city until they moved to Raleigh in 1794.
Fayetteville underwent significant economic development in the nineteenth century. Law offices, courthouses, churches, and bookstores were constructed in the port town. Church-affiliated schools were founded on the outskirts of the town. There were also entertainment centers such as dancing clubs, horse races, and dramas. A great part of Fayetteville was burned in a fire in 1832. The locals replaced the structures made from the wood into buildings made from bricks. In 1838, the United States Arsenal opened and expanded in the 1850s. Commerce and other businesses thrived before the beginning of the Civil War.
In the latter years of the Civil War, the army of General William Tecumseh Sherman stayed in town. General Sherman burned the federal arsenal in March 1865. His troops ransacked the cotton factories and other establishments. The city was a pioneer in African American education in the 1880s. They operated the Howard School, which eventually changed into Fayetteville State University in 1987.
Several stores were opened in the twentieth century, and in 1916, a five-story shopping store was established in the town of Fayetteville. Two years later, Camp Bragg was constructed in the northwest of the town, authorized by the federal government. Its establishment, along with the largest Army base in the US, Fort Bragg made a substantial impact on the city’s economy. Many believe that if not for Fort Bragg, Fayetteville wouldn’t have grown and flourished as a city.
The city thrived in the last fifty years, and more than a hundred subdivisions and shopping malls were opened around the area. Eutaw Shopping Center was among the first shopping centers in downtown Fayetteville. In 1976, Cross Creek Mall became operational. The city’s population increased to over 17,000 by 1940. Fayetteville also expanded its land area due to the growth of its people.
Aside from the growing number of residents and the service industry, the city is also renowned for its quality of higher education. Fayetteville State University was built in 1867 with the goal of providing education to freed slaves. The university caters to more than 5,000 students and offers several graduate programs. In 1960, the Methodist College opened with more than 2,000 enrollees. Also in the same year, Fayetteville Technical Community College started accepting students.