2020 marks 155th anniversary of Briggs Hardware in Raleigh

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The Civil War had come to a close. President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. There was no electricity. Phones and cars would come much later.

Around the same time, the original Briggs Hardware building was built in Raleigh. Evelyn Briggs Murray said it was built after Gen. William Sherman left in 1865.

This year marks the 155th anniversary of Briggs Hardware.

The Briggs family was instrumental in helping to build Raleigh. Briggs Hardware is often credited as the business that helped built Raleigh.

“Once you look at the history, it truly did from the ground up,” Murray said.

Briggs Hardware didn’t stay in its original building. It moved into downtown Raleigh’s so-called first skyscraper in 1874.

“Folks would come in right here. It would be the center of everything. It sure would be. And then, see my grandfather, who was once the mayor of Raleigh, leaned up here with his arms crossed. He was a man of few words, but everyone knew Mr. Briggs,” Murray said.

The company moved twice more in the following century. It first went to a location away from downtown on Atlantic Avenue, and then back downtown to its current location on Hargett Street.

Murray has managed to survive another recession and the threat of internet shopping. Business has chugged along.

“I can’t imagine owning a business through the depression recession (and) seeing your friends go off to war,” she said. “That’s why it’s so important to me to keep this legacy alive.”

The building that still carries the Briggs name now houses the City of Raleigh museum, which is complete with a Briggs Hardware display. Being a part of the museum makes Murray emotional.

“I feel I’ve come home. I feel my granddaddy. I feel my grandmom and my dad,” she said.

Standing outside on Fayetteville Street, Murray has a message for all who call Raleigh home.

“It took a lot of humble people, women included, to just lay the groundwork for Raleigh,” she said. “I want them to know the history and not take the city for granted.”

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