Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Thomas Day: Architecture and Furniture

Houses and Other Structures Mentioned in Thomas Day: Master Craftsman and Free Man of Color, Patricia Phillips Marshall and Jo Ramsay Leimenstoll (2010) (partial list):

1. Aspen Hall Plantation

Aspen Hall near Pittsboro, Chatham County, North Carolina was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. Alston family of Chatham County, North Carolina; at least one furniture item, a mahogany rocking chair.

2. Badgett-Gatewood House

Badgett-Gatewood House (built c. 1855): Photo 270. Badgett House (Pelham Township, Caswell County, North Carolina). Early 19th century, ca. 1855. 1.5-story frame Federal style house with exterior-end stuccoed chimney, 9/9 sash, built for William Badgett. Overbuilt with addition of Greek Revival Boom Era House ca. 1855 by Henry Badgett. This section has a hip roof, exterior end chimneys, a double door with a fretwork surround and a pedimented Doric entrance porch. Front and side stone steps have scroll ornament at corner of bottom step which is unique to this section of county. Fine Federal-style dairy. An Inventory of Historic Architecture: Caswell County, North Carolina, Ruth Little-Stokes and Tony P. Wrenn (1979).

Badgett-Gatewood House: This farm is a piece of Caswell County history. Aside from being a beautiful farm with a fantastic view it has the original old farm house on the property. The house was built in the mid eighteen hundreds. It's in pretty rough shape but the woodwork in the house was done by the famous furniture maker Thomas Day. There are about six barns on the farm of which several are built of logs. There is an old tenant house on the property, it also needs work but could make a hunting cabin. With about 60 acres of open land, two ponds, many barns and a view, this is a must see. Follow this link for more info on the Gatewood House: Preservation North Carolina.

This fine historic home in Caswell County was initially constructed in 1810 and reconfigured in 1855, during what is considered the Greek Revival style's "boom era."  An early Federal-period wing remains. Woodwork by master craftsman Thomas Day is found throughout the house, including several mantels, a newel post and a unusually styled entrance surround. The interior decoration includes faux-finished doors and a beautifully marbleized mantel, baseboards, panel and stair risers. The layout features a central hall with wings and four bedrooms. The exterior also features elegant woodwork details, including porch newels and front entrance sidelights, as well as spiral stone front steps. The wood-frame house has a stuccoed brick foundation and metal roof. Windows are six-over-six and nine-over-nine. The home sits on more than three acres in Pelham, an unincorporated community near the North Carolina/Virginia border. The town, convenient to Danville, Va., was named for Confederate Col. John Pelham. This house is in need of a complete rehabilitation, including plumbing and electric. It will be subject to preservation covenants. The home is most likely eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places and state historic preservation tax credits to assist in renovation. With up to 150 additional acres available, the Badgett-Gatewood House could be the centerpiece of a marvelous horse farm.

3. Barnette-Robertson House (1858)

4. Bartlett-Yancey House

Bartlett-Yancey House (1856): Photo 118. Bartlett Yancey House (Yanceyville). ca. 1815, 1856. Home of nationally known statesman Bartlett Yancey, who built the Federal style 1.5-story frame house ca. 1815. His daughter added a 2-story frame Greek Revival addition in 1856 (dated chimney) which has vernacular interior trim attributed to famed local cabinetmaker Tom Day. Yancey's law office and the family cemetery remain on site. Source: An Inventory of Historic Architecture: Caswell County, North Carolina, Ruth Little-Stokes and Tony P. Wrenn (1979).

Note, however, that the current owners of the house, Mike and Lucindy Wills, who operate the Yancey House Restaurant in the building, state the following on the reverse of their menu:

"You are visiting the home of lawyer, politician, and educational reformer, Bartlett Yancey (19 Feb. 1785 - 30 Aug. 1828), one of Caswell County's most noted citizens. His father-in-law built the three-room federalist cottage for his daughter, Ann Graves, and her husband in 1807. The home, the result of three stages of 19th century construction, is composed of the original Federal cottage, a two-story L-shaped Greek Revival block added to the front of the original house in 1856, and a Victorian overlay of front and side porches added late in the century."

5. Bass House (ca. 1855) (Person County)

Query whether this is the Pointer-Bass house: Pointer-Bass Home located on Cain Creek near Cunningham in northwest Person County, North Carolina, which was owned by Joseph Pointer, Sr. and Susan Adams Pointer 1849-1873. This is where Joseph Pointer, Jr and his siblings (including Zachariah Pointer) were born and lived.

6. Beechwood House

7. Berry Hill Plantation House

Berry Hill was built c.1760 and is still standing. The name is said to have originated from "Bury Hill" during the Revolutionary War. After the Battle of Guilford Court House, not so far away, soldiers were brought to the home which was used as a hospital. Those who died were buried there. Col. Peter Perkins was paid 50 pounds for damages sustained by the General Hospital being at his home. Col. Perkins sold his property here and moved to Tennessee where he died in 1813. His father Nicholas Perkins (1718-1762) lived nearby across the river. He operated Perkins Ferry near the line with Rockingham county, North Carolina. Thomas Harden Perkins (1757-1838) lived east of his father. His father died when he was only five years old and left his half the home tract on the south side of the river. In 1776, he was an ensign in the militia. He later followed his brothers to Williamson county, Tennessee. William Bean's cabin c.1746 was located northeast on the old Berry Hill Road. Bean sold out and moved to Tennessee in about 1768. His son was the first white child born in the Watauga Settlement. [Do not confuse this Berry Hill with the Berry Hill Plantation in Halifax County, Virginia.]

8. Brandon-Moore House (1850-1855)

9. Burleigh House (1848)

Also known as: McGehee-Phifer Plantation. Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on May 1, 1980. Significant year:ca. 1820

10. Calvin Graves Law Office

11. Cedar Grove (1838)

Cedar Grove is located in Mecklenburg County, Virginia, on the north side of Grassy Creek, and about five miles south of the town of Clarksville. The brick Greek Revival main house was built in 1838 by John Taylor Lewis, II on property that had been assembled by his father, John Lewis, and willed to his son. Lewis had no formal architect for the design of his elegant brick house, but was said to be influenced by his visits to a similar house in Alabama and to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. Dabney Cosby was reputed to be the builder and “Old Jim” the head carpenter. The historic house is unusual in form – a large one-story block on a raised basement with a hipped roof capped with a smaller clerestory with a hipped roof. The house now demonstrates a Palladian form with modern one-story brick wings flanking the historic central block. Both the north and south elevations feature entry porches with six Doric columns. These elevations are nearly identical but the northern entrance is slightly more elegant, is located at the carriage way, and leads to the formal drawing room. The south entrance looks all the way to Grassy Creek which provided both power and river transport to the plantation. In the nineteenth century, Cedar Grove was a very successful farming operation, with tobacco, apple and corn crops, a grist mill, cooperage and a distillery. An ice house and smoke house dating from 1838 and a number of other secondary structures and agricultural buildings are found on the property. The property originally comprised 2,500 acres but the creation of Buggs Island Lake/John H. Kerr Reservoir in 1953 reduced its land to 770 acres. The parcel being nominated consists of 100 acres and includes most of the significant historic resources. The property is today well-taken care of with large hay fields and both open lands and woods for hunting and riding.

Cedar Grove is located in southern Mecklenburg County, Virginia, bordered by Black Creek to the west, Grassy Creek to the south and the east, and Clarksville to the north. Originally comprising 2,500 acres, Cedar Grove now has 770 acres in fee as the construction of Buggs Island Lake/John H. Kerr Reservoir in 1953 involved the ceding of some 1,700 acres to the Federal Government. Thus the land that remains is the highest elevation and extends over the three large fingers from north to south into the lake. In its heyday as a working plantation virtually all of Cedar Grove was in cultivated fields. Today there are about 300 acres of open land and 470 acres of woods. The furrows of the ancestral tobacco fields are still visible in the second growth areas. The property is maintained as a residence and a shooting preserve. It is planted with sorghum, winter wheat, sun flowers, indigo, wild plum, chufa, partridge pea and every other food for wild game. The hay fields provide sufficient high quality hay for the three horses and two mules who live and work at Cedar Grove. The main house of Cedar Grove is constructed of hand-molded oversized bricks that were made on the property. The original quarry for clay and the kiln are now under the lake. The bricks vary in color from rusty red to brown, and are laid in Flemish bond on the north and south elevations and 5:1 common bond on the east and west side elevations. The brickwork is of a very fine quality and the mortar joints still show evidence of penciling. The house is three bays wide and sits on a raised basement. It is capped with a hipped roof which rises to an unusual clerestory topped with another hipped roof. There are two interior chimneys flanking the clerestory section. All portions of the roof are standing-seam, galvanized steel painted blue/gray. The house features a double pile plan, with a 14 foot by 56 foot center hall and two rooms deep on either side. Both north and south elevations are dominated by substantial entry porches with very low halfhipped roofs supported by four large Doric columns and two engaged half-columns. Dentil molding is the dominant decorative feature on the exterior of the house and is found above all of the doors and windows, on the cornice of the porches, on the cornice of the main block, and on the cornice of the clerestory.

Cedar Grove’s Greek Revival-style main house was built ca. 1838 for John Taylor Lewis, II. Its form – a hip roofed main block on a raised basement with a large, hipped roof clerestory – is unusual for Virginia. Its fine brick construction may have been overseen by Dabney Cosby, one of the workmen under Thomas Jefferson at the University of Virginia. Unusual interior treatments include woodwork exhibiting a number of the traits of Thomas Day, an African-American craftsman in nearby Milton, NC, as well as references to popular pattern books of the day. Cedar Grove was an active plantation and its surviving architectural resources – tobacco barns, slave quarters, tenant houses – as well as its vast fields once planted with tobacco and fruit trees as well as other crops -- provide evidence of its agricultural past. Cedar Grove is eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places at the local level of significance under criterion C for its distinctive architecture and for its well-maintained collection of agricultural outbuildings in an unaltered setting. The house is a fine example of Greek Revival architecture, possibly built by a master builder with woodwork by a well-known African American craftsman, and is associated with a historically important period in the history of Southside Virginia. The design is unusual in Virginia and the house – partially restored in the 1950s and sensitively renovated in 1993 -- retains much of its historic materials. The secondary resources, those original to the house and those moved to the property in the 1950s, complete the impression of a manor house with associated outbuildings as it was reconceived during the 1950s restoration. Cedar Grove’s period of significance extends from its date of construction in 1838 through 1959 when, following acquisition by a descendant of the original owner, its restoration was largely complete.

12. Clay-Lewis-Irvine House (1820)

Clay-Lewis-Irvine House (1820): Photo 362. Clay-Irvine House (Milton). 1820. Built by land speculator Henry M. Clay, and occupied in the the later 19th century by Samuel Irvine, tobacco merchant. Elegant two-story frame Federal house with center hall plan, steep open-string stair, modillion cornice and exterior end chimneys. The front pedimented Doric entrance porch and Greek Revival style mantel are later replacements. The formal boxwood garden is said to have been designed by the landscape designer of Mount Vernon. Source: An Inventory of Historic Architecture: Caswell County, North Carolina, Ruth Little-Stokes and Tony P. Wrenn (1979).

13. Clarendon Hall

Clarendon Hall (1842): Photo 320. Thomas D. Johnston House (Yanceyville). 1842. Imposing two-story brick transitional Federal-Greek Revival style house built by Thomas Donoho Johnston, president of the Bank of Yanceyville and one of the wealthiest merchants in town. Remarkable survival of the original entrance porch featuring Doric posts with a roof balustrade with turned wooden urn finials, probably taken from the pattern books of famous architect Asher Benjamin. Source: An Inventory of Historic Architecture: Caswell County, North Carolina, Ruth Little-Stokes and Tony P. Wrenn (1979).

14. Connors-Watt House

15. Connally-Kimbro House

Connally-Kimbro House (ca. 1860): Photo 294. Stanfield-Connally-Kimbro House (Leasburg). Early 19th century, ca. 1860, late 19th century. Large two-story frame house with rear Federal style wing. Greek Revival style hipped main block with interior chimneys, trabeated double door entrances, side pedimented Doric entrance porches, and a front replacement Queen Anne Style porch with a balcony and a cross-gable with an ornate bargeboard. Source: An Inventory of Historic Architecture: Caswell County, North Carolina, Ruth Little-Stokes and Tony P. Wrenn (1979).

16. Crichton House (1850)

17. Crisp-Oakley House (ca. 1860)

18. Dewberry Hill (ca. 1855)

19. Dialectic and Philanthropic Societies' Debating Hal

21. Dongola

Dongola (1835-1838): Photo 319. Dongola (Jeremiah Graves House) (Yanceyville): 1835-1838. Most architecturally pretentious house in Caswell County. The imposing 2-story brick academic Classical Revival style house is perfectly preserved and is considered by Thomas T. Waterman, noted South architectural historian, as a bridge between the great brick country houses of Virginia and the smaller frame ones in North Carolina. Built for tobacco planter Jeremiah Graves. Source: An Inventory of Historic Architecture: Caswell County, North Carolina, Ruth Little-Stokes and Tony P. Wrenn (1979).

22. Farrish-Joyner-King House

Farrish-Joyner-King House (ca. 1855): Photo 268. Farrish-Joyner-King House (Pelham Township). ca. 1875. Late two-story frame example of the transitional Greek Revival-Italianate style, with a hip roof with bracketed eaves, exterior end brick chimneys, wide front porch with bracketed posts and thick, turned balusters. An earlier log house is said to be inside, and the smokehouse appears antebellum. Formerly held the Blackwell Post Office. The Blackwell-King Tobacco Factory formerly stood beside the house. Source: An Inventory of Historic Architecture: Caswell County, North Carolina, Ruth Little-Stokes and Tony P. Wrenn (1979).

23. Forest Home

Photo 128. Poteat House ("Forest Home") ca. 1855. Distinguished example of the Boom Era Greek Revival style house, built by Capt. James Poteat, father of the great educator William Louis Poteat, long-time President of Wake Forest College. The house has a hip roof, exterior end brick chimneys, a well-proportioned trabeated entrance and a 2-story Doric pedimented entrance porch. Extensive remodeling and additions were made in the 20th century. Source: An Inventory of Historic Architecture: Caswell County, North Carolina, Ruth Little-Stokes and Tony P. Wrenn (1979).

24. Friou-Hurdle House

Photo 350. Friou-Hurdle House. c.1860. Two-story Greek Revival style house remodelled on exterior in late 1800s by addition of ornate bracketed porch. Interior retains some Greek Revival woodwork. The bracketed entrance with Venetian glass sidelights and transom may be original. In 1978, these sidelights and transom, a priceless treasure, were stolen by vandals. Source: An Inventory of Historic Architecture: Caswell County, North Carolina, Ruth Little-Stokes and Tony P. Wrenn (1979).

The Friou-Hurdle house was built around 1860 by Jarvis Friou, who moved to Milton in the 1840s. A successful boot and shoe manufacturer, Friou and three employees in 1850 produced 100 pairs of boots worth $500 and 800 pairs of shoes worth $1,400. He also owned the landmark Milton Hotel. Dr. James Augustus Hurdle, D.D.S., was a subsequent owner of the house.

The parlor mantel in the Friou-Hurdle House is a late nineteenth-century replacement, and no photographs or description of the original mantel survives; however, the original mantel in the sitting room remains intact.

See: Thomas Day: Master Craftsman and Free Man of Color, Patricia Phillips Marshall and Jo Ramsay Leimenstoll (2010) at 249 (footnote 33 and 38) .

25. Garland-Buford House

Garland-Buford House. ca. 1860. Large two-story frame house of Italianate design built ca. 1860, perhaps for Dr. John T. Garland, a wealthy physician who lived in Milton. It was never finished, for upstairs the walls were never plastered. The wealth of sawnwork ornament, including scalloped window muntins, represents the height of Victorian inventiveness in the county. Source: An Inventory of Historic Architecture: Caswell County, North Carolina, Ruth Little-Stokes and Tony Wrenn (1979) at 127. The house featured earthquake rods.

26. Glass-Dameron House

Photo 273. Glass Dameron House. 1855 or 1865. Boom Era Greek Revival style house with hip roof, exterior end brick chimneys, trabeated double door entrance with corner block treatment, pedimented Doric entrance porch. Unusually well-preserved two-room quarters at rear, with central chimney. Left room was plantation kitchen, right room was slave quarters. One of the chimneys has a dated brick. Source: An Inventory of Historic Architecture: Caswell County, North Carolina, Ruth Little-Stokes and Tony P. Wrenn (1979).

27. Graves-Brandon House

While the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh has one of the largest collections of Thomas Day furniture in the world, Day’s ornamental woodwork and furniture can still be found in many houses in Virginia and North Carolina. One example of a “Thomas Day” house is Brandon-on-the-Dan, built in a grove of oaks above the Dan River in Halifax County, Virginia. The property has two houses: an early 19th century planked log dwelling and a circa 1850 frame house. The later 1850s frame house is referred to as a “Thomas Day” house because of the decorative entrances and interior architectural elements attributed to Thomas Day. Day faced and overcame many obstacles in his complex life. Today he is considered one of the founders of the North Carolina furniture making industry.

Source: Preservation Virginia

28. Gunn House (ca. 1858)

29. Haywood Williams House (1846-48)

30. Holderness-Barnes-Daily-Paschal-Page House

Photo 109. Holderness House, c. 1851. Handsome Boom Era Greek Revival style house with hip roof, exterior end brick chimneys, pedimented Doric entrance porch. Unusually distinguished example due to the flanking one-story wings, each with a smaller version of the central entrance porch. The voluptuous mantels and stair rail are stylistically attributed to famed local cabinetmaker Tom Day. The unknown architect who built this house is said to have also built the front block of the nearby Bartlett Yancey, Jr., house. Source: An Inventory of Historic Architecture: Caswell County, North Carolina, Ruth Little-Stokes and Tony P. Wrenn (1979).

31. Hunt House (ca. 1855)

32. James Kerr House (1853)

33. James Malone House (ca. 1861)

34. Jesse Walker House (ca. 1837)

35. Leahurst (Thomas L. Lea)

36. Locust Point House (1858, lost to fire)

37. Longwood

Description of "Longwood" from An Inventory of Historic Architecture -- Caswell County, North Carolina, Ruth Little-Stokes (1979) at 138:

Photo 189. Romulus Saunders House (Longwood). Late 18th, early 19th century, ca. 1855. Antebellum 2-story frame plantation house built in three stages. The Greek Revival wing represents one of the most complete survivals of Greek Revival woodwork in the idiom attributed to Thomas Day, Saunders, a Caswell County native who became one of the state's most influential 19th century politicians, serving as United States Congressman, judge, and minister to Spain from 1846-1850, is believed to have lived at Longwood early in his career.

"Longwood" also was once owned by Yanceyville artist Maud Gatewood and Dr. H. Bee Gatling, M.D.,, who purportedly did substantial restoration work to the structure. The property obtained new owners as of 1 September 2005.

Set forth below is an additional description of Longwood (Courtesy of Mancuso Realty of Danville, Virginia):

The gated driveway leads to the federal-style home located near Milton, North Carolina, on Highway 62 that connects to nearby Yanceyville, North Carolina. The mellow exterior clapboarding and shuttered symmetrical windows are balanced by Greek Revival porches on two facades, each featuring four massive columns. Fenced and situated on 5.7 acres of trees and colossal boxwoods, the property includes a glass-paneled greenhouse.

The dependencies include a one-stall stable with fenced pasture, an unfinished servant quarters, two restored hand-hewn log homes (each with one bedroom and bath), and one restored clapboard residence (with one bedroom and bath). The home has an historic marker noting its landmark designation in North Carolina. The property was once owned by Romulus Mitchell Saunders, who served as U.S. Minister to Spain from 1845-49, as well as N.C. judge and congressman, and was a major political leader of his time.

The mantels are attributed to Thomas Day, an acclaimed free black cabinet and furniture maker, whose home and work shop (Union Tavern) is being restored as a museum in Milton. The formal dining room features Palladian-styled built-in cabinets framing the fireplace mantel. A breakfast room enhances the kitchen as well as a screened back porch. The front foyer and handsome stairwell are lighted by a carriage lamp chandelier. Renowned Southern artist, Maud Gatewood, who lived at Longwood, restored the home and its dependencies.

With 3400 sq. ft. of living space, the main residence has three bedrooms, 2 ½ baths, and hardwood floors.

The house was the home of the Donoho family until November 1954 when the last surviving child of Thomas A. Donoho and Christina Isabella Glenn Garland died. It was once the home of Romulus Saunders, who traded it to Dr. John Tabb Garland. And, it presumably is through this ownership that the property came into the hands of the Donoho family. The daughter of Dr. Garland, Isabella Glenn Garland, married Thomas A. Donoho. The 1850 US Census shows Dr. John Tabb Garland with substantial personal assets.

38. Melrose (1840)

39. Milton Presbyterian Church (1837)

40. Milton State Bank Building

41. Moore-Gwyn House

Photo 85. Moore-Gwyn House, c. 1790. Large two-story brick house on a raised basement with restrained exterior treatment and full-blown Federal trim which may have been a later addition. One of the most handsome Federal style houses in the northern Piedmont of North Carolina. Probably built for Samuel Moore, a tobacco planter. The treatment of the raised basement as an element of the facade by means of matching architectural detail is atypical of Caswell County and creates a particularly imposing appearance. On the National Register of Historic Places. Source: An Inventory of Historic Architecture: Caswell County, North Carolina, Ruth Little-Stokes and Tony P. Wrenn (1979).

42. Oak Hill Plantation (Peter Wilson Hairston)

43. Oakwood Inn

44. Old East (University of North Carolina)

45. Old West (University of North Carolina)

46. Powell House (ca. 1848) (Captain Carter Glass Powell)

47. Powell House (ca. 1855) (Henry Alexander Powell)

48. Powell-Satterfield House (ca. 1848) [Query whether this is the same as the Powell House (ca. 1848.]

49. Richmond-Morton-Holland House (ca. 1850)

50. Rose Hill

Photo 84. Bedford Brown House (Rose Hill) c.1802. Handsome two-story frame early Federal House built by Jethro Brown, who kept a tavern here where an early intellectual society met. it was the seat of Bedford Brown, one of Caswell County's best known statesmen, a leader of the Southern Democratic Party who opposed secession in 1860. Brown added an elaborate late Federal parlor, which features a remarkably complete survival of original marbleized woodwork, wallpaper, and carpet. On the National Register of Historic Places. Source: An Inventory of Historic Architecture: Caswell County, North Carolina, Ruth Little-Stokes and Tony P. Wrenn (1979).

Raleigh, NC: In the 1820s, master craftsman Thomas Day built furniture for U.S. Sen. Bedford Brown and his estate near Yanceyville. Now, more than 180 years later, the family is parting with some of the pieces. Day, a free black man who lived from 1801to 1861, made some of the best furniture in North Carolina during his time. Despite living in the antebellum South, he was so well-respected that white men apprenticed for him. Nine of Day’s pieces, including a sofa worth an estimated $2,000 to $4,000, are being sold Saturday starting at 10 a.m. at the Tory Hill Auction House on Hillsborough Street near the State Fairgrounds. Seven of the nine pieces come from Sen. Brown’s estate, Rose Hill, where the furniture has resided since it was built.

“The house is still so full of original furniture and pieces,” said Robert Brown, a direct descendent of the senator Brown said his family decided to sell some of the furniture to raise money to help restore the estate, which they hope to open to the public. Plus, Brown and his wife are moving in and faced a problem - there was just too much furniture.

Day was highly regarded, making furniture for senators, congressmen, UNCChapel Hill, and even the governor’s mansion, said Jack Williams, a member of the board of directors at the Thomas Day House and Union Tavern in Milton. “He made all the pews in the Presbyterian church here with the understanding that his family could sit downstairs with the rest of the people, rather than up in the balcony with the slaves,” Williams said.

But Day also had to walk a fine line, especially because he owned more property and land than some white men in the area, said Michael Ausbon, decorative art associate curator at the N.C. Museum of History. He even owned slaves, though historians are unsure whether that was for labor or to find ways to help them. “He was very successful at balancing that tightrope of surviving as a free person of color in a white-dominated antebellum society,” Ausbon said.

Jason McCoon, owner of Tory Hill, said this is the first time Day’s work has come through his auction house. But Day’s furniture has only become well-known in the last decade, he said. “His work has finally been recognized as not only prolific but really high quality and really nice,” McCoon said.

That recognition included a three-year exhibit at the N.C. Museum of History that encompassed Day’s life, business, and furniture. Pieces from the exhibit have been moved to the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C., but Day can still be seen at the North Carolina museum - his statue is on the steps outside.

Even after living at Rose Hill as a child, Brown still marvels at the history of the estate and the furniture. “These places were made to host parties,” he said. “It’s amazing to sit and think back about people that were U.S. senators and possibly even presidents, and other congressmen, sitting around, drinking beers, eating there and talking. “People say, ‘If the walls could talk ... .’ In this case, it’s, ‘If the furniture could talk, the things they could say.”

Source: Raleigh News &Observer, June 2013. Seligson: 919-829-8983

51. Sallie Martin House (ca. 1835)

52. Shelton House (1843)

53. Sidney Lea (ca. 1850)

54. Smith-Patterson House (ca. 1855)

55. Springfield (1842)

56. Thomas Mumford McGehee House

Person County, North Carolina
Deed Book E, Page 251
8 November 1819

251 Joseph McGehee of Halifax County, Virginia to Thomas McGehee of Milton, North Carolina, for $8000, 614 acres on Cain Creek adjacemt James Hamlett, heirs of Joseph Hall decd, William McGehee, William Dixon, Edmund Dixon, Junr., James McCain, David Hemphill. 8 November 1819. Witnesses: Mumford Stanfield, Jno Rogers.

Source: Person County North Carolina: Deed Books 1792-1825, Katharine Kerr Kendall (1993) at 162.

The owners of the homes in which Thomas Day's architectural woodwork is found constituted some of the wealthiest and most powerful individuals in the Dan River region: physician John Tab Garland, M.D., at one time the richest man in Caswell County (1850s and 1860s); banker and civic leader Thomas Donoho Johnston; machine shop, foundry, and sawmill owner Caleb Richmond; state senator James Kerr; merchant and tobacco factory owner John Wilson; planters William Long (also the owner of a sawmill and gristmill), Sidney Lea, George Williamson, Haywood Williams, Thomas Mumford McGehee, and William H. Holderness.

Family relationships among the planters enhanced the demand for Thomas-Day-made architectural trimwork. Thomas Donoho Johnston built Clarendon Hall in 1842 and tapped Day to embellish the interior; when his sister and brother-in-law, Sarah and William Long, built the Long House in 1856, they, too, turned to Day. Day provided the architectural woodwork for the house of Captain Carter Powell around 1848 and that of his son Henry Alexander Powell less than a decade later. Thomas L. Lea and his siblings Sidney S. Lea and Rebecca Lea (Mrs. George Williamson), his niece Elizabeth Lea (Mrs. Calvin Graves), and his daughter Ann Lea (Mrs. William Griffin Graves) provided Day the opportunity to do the woodwork on a law office and four of their five houses between 1840 and 1850.

The woodwork suggests the Carter Powell house was built around 1848 rather than the more often cited 1850. Day's machine-cut newels with tendrils date Henry Powell's house to 1853-1855. Day's work for Elizabeth Lea and Calvin Graves was not on their house, as it was built several years earlier, but on Calvin's law office, for which Day supplied the mantel. For a discussion of this family, see Whitlow, "Thomas L. Lea," in Heritage of Caswell County, 354.

Source: Thomas Day: Master Craftsman and Free Man of Color, Patricia Phillips Marshall and Jo Ramsay Leimenstoll (2010) at 134-135 and 246 (footnote 10).

57. Union Tavern

Photo 351. Union (Yellow) Tavern. ca. 1818, two-story brick tavern, one of the earliest remaining in the state, constructed in a sophisticated Federal style, with three front entrances, each with fanlights, with metal sunburst ornament, and an academic classical cornice, interior end chimneys. The center hall plan and much of the original interior woodwork is intact. The structure is most famous as the residence and workshop of cabinetmaker Tom Day from the mid-1840s to his death about 1860. Approved for designation as a National Historic Landmark. Source: An Inventory of Historic Architecture: Caswell County, North Carolina, Ruth Little-Stokes and Tony P. Wrenn (1979).

58. Warren House (1854)

59. Watlington-Paschal House (ca. 1860)

60. Walters House (1859)

61. William Long House

62. Wilson-Winstead House

Edward D. Winstead House (Milton, North Carolina).The following is from An Inventory of Historic Architecture: Caswell County, North Carolina, Ruth Little-Stokes and Tony P. Wrenn (1979) at 222:

Photo 357. Winstead House, ca. 1830, two-story Flemish bond brick house of restrained transitional Federal-Greek Revival design on the exterior, and delicate, slightly eccentric Classical Revival interior trim, including an open-string, ramped stair and columned mantels that have the stamp of local cabinetmaker Thomas Day [whose shop is across the street]. The impact of the exterior is compromised by the two-story 20th century porch. A free-standing contemporary 1.5-story brick kitchen at the rear retains much original interior trim.

The Wilson-Winstead House (ca. 1834) possessed a Federal style fanlight and a Greek Revival front porch. Several decades later the porch was replaced. An 1880s photograph shows the original porch. Currently physical evidence is being used to reconstruct the original porch.

The few more conservatively trimmed staircases attributed to Thomas Day have a traditional ring of balusters supporting the horizontally scrolled end of the handrail at the base of the staircase. The Wilson-Winstead House (ca. 1834) and Clarendon Hall (1842) are two examples. For the Wilson-Winstead commission, Thomas Day modified the supporting ring of the balusters to incorporate a central newel post, which he topped with a rounded cap, and reinforced the design by repeating the cap detail in the three-dimensional stair brackets. Because the staircase begins its ascent well beyond the side wall, Day installed identical newel posts on each side of the first step. The staircase was carefully restored, and a missing section of handrail on the east side of the steps was reconstructed in 2005.

Source: Thomas Day: Master Craftsman and Free Man of Color, Patricia Phillips Marshall and Jo Ramsay Leimenstoll (2010) at 159, 161, and 249 (footnotes 40 and 42).


Additional Notes

Bachelor's Hall. Bachelor's Hall (Berry Hill Road, Pittsylvania County, Virginia) was the home of Constantine Perkins. His land grant there was for 639 acres in 1770. A major in the militia, he ran a store on the Berry Hill Road. Bachelor's Hall is still standing and occupied (March 2011). Part of the building is from the 1770s, but it was renovated and added to many times. A mantel and this staircase appear to be the work of Thomas Day of Milton. See: Photograph courtesy Bobby Ricketts.

Maj. Constantine Perkins was born 20 Nov 1747 in Goochland County, VA. He died about 1790 in Pittsylvania Co., VA. “Bachelor’s Hall” was the home of Constant Perkins. His land grant here was for 639 acres in 1770. He ran a store here on the Berry Hill Road. He was a major in the militia. Peter and his brother Constantine Perkins owned the Troublesome Creek Ironworks in Rockingham County, N.C. Constantine married Agatha MARR, daughter of Gideon and Sarah Miller Marr. See:

Berry Hill. The house at Berry Hill is at first puzzling to the casual glance, a blending of fine construction of several different periods. The oldest portion is a story-and-a-half building of typical lines for a mid-17th-century home of this area. In the first photograph above, its remarkably graceful chimney can be seen as the second chimney from the right. This portion of Berry Hill is the home of Peter Perkins, thought to have been built about 1745, and the structure which served as the center of the Revolutionary hospital. Attached to the rear of the original home is the rock-chimneyed “plantation office,” precise construction date of which is not known. Attached to the front is a large gambrel-roofed addition with wrap-around porch, built in 1912, which in turn is connected to a strikingly tall structure with beautiful cornices built in 1806. The property has remained in the ownership of descendants of Peter Perkins, who himself moved to North Carolina around 1795. Mr. and Mrs. Robert V. Sims are the current residents of this, his ancestral home.

Two other features adjacent to the house seem just as important as the building itself in denoting the times through which it has passed. Immediately to the rear of the building is an inward-facing court of slave quarters, intact to an extent almost never seen today. Just to the south (the vantage point from which the photograph showing all four portions of the house was taken) is found a vast and well-kept family cemetery, the final resting place of so many of the members of the Perkins, Wilson, and Hairston families who have figured prominently int he affairs of the Dan River valley since they first began to settle it almost 270 years ago.

Source: Echoes of the Revolution at Berry Hill.

Brandon Plantation. This southern Piedmont plantation was originally the homestead of the Brandon family who settled in the area in the mid-eighteenth century. The principal resource is a two-part vernacular farmhouse built in 1800 and enlarged ca. 1842. The enlargement includes noteworthy interior woodwork: plain but forthright 1840s mantels and stair attributed to Thomas Day, the well- known black cabinetmaker of nearby Milton, North Carolina. Day has achieved national attention as a symbol of successful black entrepreneurship in a time and region where the majority of his fellow African-Americans were legally enslaved. Source: Brandon Plantation.



An Inventory of Historic Architecture: Caswell County, North Carolina, Ruth Little-Stokes and Tony P. Wrenn (1979).

Thomas Day: Master Craftsman and Free Man of Color, Patricia Phillips Marshall and Jo Ramsay Leimenstoll (2010).

The front entrances of the houses for which Milton cabinetmaker Thomas Day produced woodwork are generally consistent in composition. The entrances of Springfield (1842), the Graves-Brandon House (ca. 1850), the Hunt House (ca. 1855), and the Glass-Dameron House (1855) are the same as those of the six representative Day ensemble houses(Richmond, Holderness, Longwood, Bartlett Yancey, Bass, and Friou-Hurdle). At the Powell House (ca. 1855), the only difference is the use of diamond-paned glazing, and at Cedar Grove (1838), the difference is in the use of subdued trimwork on the interior of the entrance. In Clarendon Hall (1842), the Haywood Williams House (1846-48), and the Connally-Kimbro House (ca. 1860), the sidelights extend full height to flank the transom. The Warren House (1854), the Farrish-Joyner-King House (ca. 1855),and the Badgett House (ca. 1855) have no transom at all. Burleigh (1848) lacks sidelights. Greater differences in entrance treatments reflect stylistic changes over time. The Wilson-Winstead House (ca. 1834) possessed a Federal style fanlight and a Greek Revival front porch; the entrances to the Garland-Buford House (ca. 1860) and the James Malone House (ca. 1861) sport Italianate brackets and scalloped trimwork.

Source: Thomas Day: Master Craftsman and Free Man of Color, Patricia Phillips Marshall and Jo Ramsay Leimenstoll (2010) at 157-159.


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