John Haywoods’s second wife Eliza didn’t like their house on Edenton Street in Raleigh. She disliked it so much, in fact, that she returned to her home town of Wilmington, North Carolina, to give birth to their first child.

But John wanted to be a part of the fledgling North Carolina state government (which required that he live in the city limits), so starting in 1799, John built her a new house two blocks from the state capitol building.

Well, she must have liked it, because she and John had 11 more children there—and the house that would become Haywood Hall stayed in the family for nearly 180 years. Incidentally, John would serve as Raleigh’s first mayor and North Carolina Treasurer for 40 years.

Today, Haywood Hall is the oldest house on its original foundation within the original city limits of Raleigh. It also boasts furnishings that chronicle its full history—from the early 19th century to 1977, including nearly a dozen family portraits and a permanent doll collection. In addition to being a perfect example of Federal style architecture, the house had a grand room that when it was built was the second largest room in Raleigh. It was so large, in fact, that the North Carolina general assembly could meet there. It was also the site of a visit by the Marquis de Lafayette in 1825.

The grounds feature magnificent gardens built by Eliza Haywood, including a Brazilian magnolia that has presided over the estate for more than 200 years.

So the next time you think folks in the past didn’t feel as deeply as we do, think of John Haywood and the house built by love.