SMITH - GATTIS HOUSE

SMITH - GATTIS HOUSE

,
Hillsborough
NC
Built in
1820-1835
/ Demolished in
1955-1965
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
Local Historic District: 
Use: 

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Last updated

  • Fri, 09/01/2017 - 12:58pm by gary

Comments

,
Hillsborough
NC
Built in
1820-1835
/ Demolished in
1955-1965
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
Local Historic District: 
Use: 

 

1938 (Library of Congress - Frances B. Johnston)

This Federal style house (probably with later addition of Victorian front porch details) was likely built by James Strudwick Smith in the 1820s-1830s. Smith may have been the illegitimate son of William Strudwick. He pursued a medical career, training with James Webb of Hillsborough. He engaged in a large number of 'side' businesses, including James S. Smith and Company, probably a short-lived merchandising business, and general store in Hillsborough in 1819 with with Dr. Thomas Jefferson Faddis, but their account books show that in 1824 the partnership became entirely medical; their later accounts were only for medical services and drugs.

During the same period of the early 1820s, Smith was a partner of Josiah Turner in a copper shop, though he soon sold his share of the business. His largest venture was with Thomas D. Crain in the operation of mills, distilleries, and tanyard of which Smith became sole owner in 1836.

Smith was active in the construction of the Masonic Eagle Lodge on the property adjacent to his house, as well as the construction of the 1845 Orange County Courthouse

In 1845 he went bankrupt and was divested of all his property except what he had been able to transfer to his wife and children; it is likely that he relocated at that time to a house they named "Oakland" on Smith Level Road and Price Creek outside Chapel Hill.

Notably, this house was likely the birthplace of Cornelia Smith, grandmother of the Reverend Pauli Murray; Cornelia was born to a woman enslaved by the Smith family, named Harriet or Harriot. James Sidney Smith, son of James Strudwick Smith, was widely acknowledged to be her biological father.

Sometime after 1845, the house became the property of Samuel M. Gattis, who built a Queen Anne style house next door in 1908.

1954 (Pauli Murray, from the Murray Collection at the Harvard Schlesinger Library)

 The Smith house was demolished sometime after 1954, likely prior to the late 1960s. The area is vacant yard for the Gattis House as of 2017.

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