New Bern Historical Society

NEW BERN — John Leys’ The Story of Ghent was so popular when it was first presented, it sold out quickly, leaving folks waiting for another chance.

That opportunity is here as the New Bern Historical Society continues its July series of online programs. The third in the series, The Story of Ghent will be presented on the Historical Society Facebook page on July 22 at 2 p.m.  You’ll be able to comment and ask questions in real time.

What is it about Ghent that captures the imagination? Leys explains, “The Story of Ghent will take us back to the days when Ghent was developed from the Rhem family plantation and explain how the neighborhood grew with the introduction of the trolley. We’ll remember all the fun the children had with the coming of the circus. Let’s not forget the Casino with sports events, dances, rides and concessions. Who remembers that the famous Gorgeous George had a wrestling match there! We’ll talk about architecture and a few notable residents. Over the years Ghent has had a significant influence on New Bern, and we hope will continue to far into the future.”

Ghent resident John Leys came to New Bern after finishing his graduate degree at East Carolina University in 1975 and taught French, History and English in the New Bern school system.  After retiring as a teacher, he worked at the Craven County Convention and Visitors Bureau, the New Bern Public Library and Tryon Palace.  An active volunteer with the Historical Society, he served on the board of directors as the historian, recently stepping down after 10 years of service.  John has done extensive research and writing, and written scripts for and acted as a ghost in Ghostwalk and Haunted Evening productions.  He has appeared in many productions at the Civic Theatre and was on the founding board of the Rivertowne Players.  John loves New Bern and thinks it has some of the nicest people in the world!

New Bern Historical Society Executive Director Mickey Miller is pleased at the response this virtual series has gathered.  “We are thrilled so many have responded to our Facebook presentations. We are especially thankful to have so many talented volunteer presenters willing to share their stories as we explore new venues.”

The mission of the New Bern Historical Society is to celebrate and promote New Bern and its heritage through events and education.  Offices are located in the historic Attmore-Oliver House at 511 Broad Street in New Bern.  For more information, call 252-638-8558 or go or

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