The Town of Wentworth, population 2,800, is the county seat of Rockingham County, located in the North Carolina Piedmont.
Named after the Marquis of Rockingham, Charles Watson Wentworth, who served as the British Prime Minister and supported American independence, the Town of Wentworth was originally chartered by the General Assembly in 1798. Due to a lapse of the 1798 charter and the impending annexation plans of a neighboring city, efforts to incorporate the community of Wentworth began in 1996 by a group of citizens who formed Citizens for the Re-Activation of Wentworth. On November 4, 1997, voters overwhelmingly approved a referendum on the incorporation of the Town, and the 1798 Wentworth Charter was amended to allow incorporation. On July 1, 1998, the modern-day Town of Wentworth came into being.
Wentworth today still reflects the nature of a rural nineteenth century county seat that included a courthouse and jail surrounded by a collection of small supporting businesses, homes, and churches. Much of that core is still visible at and around the old Wright Tavern site.
A myriad of governmental services are located in the Town of Wentworth. In addition to the Wentworth Town Hall, the Town contains the Rockingham County Governmental Center, the Rockingham County Justice Center (home of the local courtrooms, the Clerk of Court, and the Register of Deeds), the Law Enforcement Center (home of the Rockingham County Sheriff's Department), the Emergency Management Services Center, the 9-1-1 Communications Center, the Employment Security Commission, the Rockingham County Animal Shelter, the Rockingham County Agricultural Center, the North Carolina Army National Guard Armory, the Rockingham County Business and Technology Center, and the North Carolina Department of Transportation Highway Maintenance Facility.
Education facilities include Wentworth Elementary School, Rockingham County Middle School, Rockingham County High School, Rockingham Community College, which also houses the Rockingham County Schools Early College High School, and UMAR, a transitional day activities, vocational, and arts program for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Additionally, the Arts Council of Rockingham County, which includes the Dan River Art Market, and the Museum and Archives of Rockingham County (MARC), which is located in the old Wentworth courthouse location, are here.
Just outside the Town limits are Hospice of Rockingham County, Inc., the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles Drivers License Bureau, the Rockingham County Office for the North Carolina Highway Patrol, and the Betsy-Jeff Penn 4-H Center.
Wentworth is the only county seat in the state of North Carolina that does not have bottom line delivery, which is established by the United States Postal Service. Mail sent to a Wentworth, N. C. 27375 address is deliverable only at the local post office for those few who maintain post office boxes. To find a residential or business address in the incorporated town using GPS or to get mail to a street address, the sender must list the building number and street address followed by the Reidsville, N. C. 27320 bottom line address. To locate one of the governmental agencies, services, or schools in the Town of Wentworth, the "bottom line" address is important.
At present, Wentworth is a rural, residential community located in the heart of Rockingham County. The Town has a growing number of small businesses, and its primary "industries" are government services and education. The Land Use Plan paves the way for continued preservation and protection of the rural character while encouraging compact, pedestrian-friendly development that supports the look and feel of a small town.
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