The Museum of the Cape Fear is dedicated to preserving the history of southern North Carolina, from the time when Native Americans inhabited the area to the early 20th century. Exhibits depict Native American life, an early 20th general store, a naval store, and textile mill. Visitors will learn about life in Fayetteville in the early decades of the 20th century and the different roles women, children and African Americans played, as well as the impact of social, economic and technological changes.
The museum also operates the historic Edgar Allan Poe House (not to be confused with the famous writer), which is located on the museum grounds. Poe was a successful businessman and built this late Victorian house in 1897. He is usually referred to as E. A. Poe to avoid confusion between the two men.
The Poe House is located on land that was once part of an arsenal built in 1858, which was one of five built in the country after the War of 1812. During the Civil War, the Confederacy took control and used it to store and manufacture arms. Union troops, under General William T. Sherman, subsequently destroyed it in 1862 and some of the foundations are all that remain. Visitors can see them in Arsenal Park, which is just to the west of the museum.