Fair Oaks, located at 1507 Morganton Road, Fayetteville, Cumberland County, North Carolina, was built in 1858 by prominent businessman E.J. Lilly.
It included an octagonal summerhouse, the old kitchen, servants’ quarters, smokehouse, and school house. The house incorporates a Georgian plan with Greek Revival and Italianate elements. Surrounding the house is the original cast iron fence with a beautifully designed gate.
General Sherman’s Union troops marched into Fayetteville on March 11, 1865, to burn the Fayetteville Arsenal, which had been taken from the federal government and used by the Confederacy during the war. The troops stayed four days and burned the arsenal, The Fayetteville Observer, mills, and homes.
Historians say Lilly, who built Fair Oaks, was concerned about danger to his family from Union troops in the area and offered Sherman the use of his home.
It is believed that Sherman’s troops used the Fair Oaks house as a field hospital and it therefore was spared from the “scorched earth” campaign that destroyed the Fayetteville Arsenal and many other important Fayetteville buildings.