Casso’s Inn

Booming Business

April, 09, 2009, by Ladye Jane

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If you were stopping through Raleigh in the late 1790’s, then you definitely made a stop at one of Raleigh’s first booming businesses, Casso’s Tavern and Inn, which played a major role in the initial commercial growth of Fayetteville Street. With a prime location at the foot of the statehouse on the corner of Morgan and Fayetteville, Peter Casso set up shop in 1795, which became the stagecoach stop for everything and everyone coming in and out of the town. The Tavern and Inn served as a lodging house, mail house, restaurant, bar, stable, and cock fight pit. Peter’s cock fights were said to have some of the highest purses in town.

Most importantly, the Inn was home to “Mrs.Casso’s Bell”, which members of the night watch would ring to warn citizens of a fire. Raleigh had a little problem with repeatedly catching on fire, with three devastating fires occurring in 1816, 1832, and 1833. Each time, the fire was finally put out at the home of Hannah Casso Stewart, daughter of Peter and Margaret Casso. In each instance, the kitchen of the house was blown up in order to create a fire-break between buildings giving the city time to put out the great fires. Three times her house was blown up, and each time she built a new one. The Inn, however, was completely destroyed in the 1833 fire, and was not rebuilt.

A small building in the back of Casso’s Inn was also the birthplace of Andrew Johnson, who was President of the United States. The building was moved from it’s Morgan Street location, and is now located in the Mordecai Historic Park.

Image courtesy of Raleigh City Museum

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Olde Raleigh, Other posts by Ladye Jane.


Olde Raleigh


  • emc
    04/09 02:28 PM


  • MMI
    04/09 02:40 PM

    Maybe that was the “small building in the back.”

    Wow, are we really getting humor from institutional racism?  I find that oddly cool.

  • MMI
    04/09 03:42 PM

    Amen to that.  Besides, humor can simultaneously let you get away with and deal with awkward subjects.  Sensitive subject??  Crack a joke!  If it bombs, it’s probably too soon.  See: “Rock, Chris.”

  • Chico
    04/09 03:42 PM

    I laughed out loud at this one! And actually free blacks had more freedom to travel and dine in the 1700’s than they did in the 1800’s after the uprisings of Denmark Vessey, Nat Turner, and others.

  • MMI
    04/09 06:22 PM

    Ah, Denmark Vessey… I haven’t heard that name since I left Charleston.

  • Raleigh Boy
    04/11 10:32 PM

    The photo here is not the Casso’s building. This was built after the 1833 fire. At some point thereafter it was occupied by “The Branson House” hotel and remained such for many years through the end of the 19th century. This building was demolished and replaced by the current Justice Building in 1940.

  • ladye jane
    04/17 03:19 PM

    Actually, there are several people that suggest the building in the drawing is Casso’s….one example being Elizabeth Culbertson Waugh’s book “North Carolina’s Capital.”

  • Raleigh Boy
    04/17 03:55 PM

    Yes, I am quite familiar with her book. I believe in her article she posited whether the drawing is indeed of Casso’s in the form of a question. Also, the architectural style of the building in the drawing post-dates the Casso’s time frame. As “the Inn was completely destroyed in the 1833 fire, and was not rebuilt,” I am certain this drawing (which was done in the 20th century) is of the building that replaced Casso’s after that calamity.

  • Still Digging
    04/18 09:00 AM

    I agree, Raleigh Boy.  The original Casso’s Inn would have been much smaller, and a radically different architectural style.  The one featured in this image was most likely built after the 1833 fire.

  • john mish
    04/21 08:26 PM

    At some point thereafter it was occupied by “The Branson House” hotel and remained such for many years through the end of the 19th century.
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