Despite an early start, North Carolina, with shallow harbors, unnavigable rivers and a treacherous coast, developed slowly. By the end of the French and Indian War in 1763, however, the colony began to flourish, producing small but exquisitely built brick houses and then, with the arrival of a new Royal Governor and his pet architect, John Hawks, the noble Governor’s Palace in the imperial Palladian style.
The North Carolina frontier may have been sparsely settled and “unfashionable” by the standards of ports along the Atlantic coast, but the frontier was also surprisingly cosmopolitan. The Moravians, refugees from religious persecution in what is now eastern Germany and the Czech Republic, built their town of Salem with a careful plan, public zoning, a waterworks and a fire department in the 18th century, as well as extraordinary buildings that travellers described as “Dutch,” meaning German.
Sometimes, the traditions of apprenticeship, careful craftsmanship and a flash of ingenuity could produce delightful variations on sophisticated themes. The colonial port of New Bern became a tranquil backwater after the Revolution, but a luxurious one with remarkable houses. The northern counties, influenced by rich and well educated Virginians, produced a group of plantation houses in the new Adamesque Federal style.
In the second quarter of the 19th century, North Carolina became even more prosperous, with a good variety of Greek “temples” and Gothic “castles,” some of the best of them created by the New York architect Alexander Jackson Davis, who produced more than twenty buildings in North Carolina.
This volume presents the famous buildings–Cupola House at Edenton, the Governor’s Palace at New Bern, the Moravian buildings of Salem, the magnificent Greek Revival Capitol at Raleigh. It also presents some surprises–Old Brick House, a small but delightful colonial manor copied from an 18th-century English pattern book, Little Manor, a sumptuous house now in ruins, Cooleemee, a plantation house with an extraordinary cruciform plan.