315 E. ROSEMARY ST. / COLLIER HOUSE / MICKLE HOUSE / MANGUM HOUSE / BETTY SMITH HOUSE

315 E. ROSEMARY ST. / COLLIER HOUSE / MICKLE HOUSE / MANGUM HOUSE / BETTY SMITH HOUSE

315
,
Chapel Hill
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1833-1856
/ Modified in
1945
,
1970-1979
Construction type: 
,
Local Historic District: 
National Register: 
Type: 
Use: 
,

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Last updated

  • Tue, 02/20/2024 - 9:32am by SteveR

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315
,
Chapel Hill
NC
Cross street: 
Built in
1833-1856
/ Modified in
1945
,
1970-1979
Construction type: 
,
Local Historic District: 
National Register: 
Type: 
Use: 
,

 

This house was built between 1833 and 1856 (more likely between 1853 and 1856) by Isaac J. Collier. In November 1833, Collier bought a two-acre lot (part of original town lot 5) from Jones Watson, on which Collier built a house (as an investment?).[1] Watson had purchased the entirety of original town lot 5 (four acres) earlier in November 1833 from Elisha Mitchell.[2]

Collier sold the house and property in May 1853 to Andrew Mickle.[3] However, Collier resold the house and property in October 1856 to Hugh B. Guthrie, who in turn/immediately sold it to Mickle and Richard D. Ashe (there seems to have been some share or investment and/or debt thing going on here).[4]

Mickle incurred some debts he was unable to pay, and in December 1867 friends and family paid off the debts (via George Laws) and purchased the house and property, placing them in a trust controlled by Joseph Mickle.[5]

Mickle sold it in March 1882 to Methodist minister and UNC Professor Adolphus W. Mangum (and George W. Purefoy?).[6] Mangum died in 1890, and the property passed to his heirs.

In September 1944 the house and property was purchased from Mangum's heirs by Betty Smith (and her husband), a writer best known for her 1943 novel A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (which was adapted into a film in 1945).[7] Smith had the house extensively renovated, which took almost a year. Her renovations included uncovering six boarded-up fireplaces, removing the front porch, and adding brick veneer to the facade of the first story. She also retained all the original mantels, doors, and windows that were still in place.[8] Her house and garden were often featured on Chapel Hill tours.[9]

The house was donated to The Chapel Hill Preservation Society in 1972 (with a restrictive covenant that expired in 2002) by Smith's heirs.[10]
 
From the 2015 NRHP survey (not edited for accuracy):
"Set back from the street on a large lot at the northwest corner of East Rosemary and Hillsborough streets, the two-story, side-gabled house is three bays wide and double-pile. It has a painted brick exterior with weatherboards on the second-floor façade, which projects slightly, and partial cornice returns. The house has six-over-six wood-sash windows with eight-light casements at the second floor over the entrances, and exterior end brick chimneys. A double-leaf door on the façade has three-light-over-onepanel sidelights and a seven light transom. An original two-story front porch was removed about 1945 leaving the front door accessed by an uncovered brick stoop. There are vinyl windows on the first-floor right (east) elevation. Two two-story gabled ells extend from the rear (north) elevation, each with weatherboards and six-over-six wood-sash windows. There is a two-story, shed-roofed frame section between the ells and one-story, shed-roofed brick sections at the outside of the ells, flush with the side elevations of the main section. A one-story, gabled brick wing extends from the right elevation and a later, one-story gabled brick wing extends from the rear of the two-story, shed-roofed section with fourover-four window and an exterior end brick chimney. A stone wall extends along the front and right sides of the property, a stepped brick wall extends around a patio at the left rear (northwest), and a stone culvert extends across the left side of the property bordering 305-307 East Rosemary.
The house seems to have been built between 1853 and 1858, probably by Isaac Collier, who owned the land in 1853. In 1858 Andrew Mickle was granted the land, but he seems to have resided there the year before. An 1866 conveyance of the property definitely mentions a house here. From 1885 to 1890 it was owned by Dr. Adolphus Mangum, a professor at the university and Methodist minister, and in 1944 it was purchased from his heirs by Betty Smith, a novelist best known for A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Smith renovated the house, removing a sagging two-story front porch and installing the brick veneer. The rear of the house was enlarged after 1949, as only a one-story rear ell appears on the 1949 Sanborn map."
 
View north, circa 1940 (via UNC)
 
View north east, 1944 (drawing by Hope S. Chamberlain, via UNC)
 
View north west, circa 1960 (photo by Wootten-Moulton, via UNC)
 
 
View north, with Betty Smith in foreground, circa 1965 (photo by Roland Giduz, via Images of America: Chapel Hill)
 
View north west, 1992 (photo by Mary Beth Gatza, via NC SHPO)
 
Sanborn map excerpt, December 1915
 
Sanborn map excerpt, June 1925
 
 
ENDNOTES
[1] Orange County deed book 25, page 479
[2] Orange County deed book 25, page 478
[3] Orange County deed book 47, page 317
[4] Orange County deed book 47, page 318
[5] Orange County deed book 37, page 524 (this deed has an extensive inventory of the house)
[6] Orange County deed book 48, page 198
[7] Orange County deed book 119, page 448 (this deed lists much of the line of inheritance for the Mangum family)
[8] Chapel Hill News Leader, October 30, 1958; 2015 NRHP survey
[9] Chapel Hill News Leader, October 30, 1958; other various local newspapers, various dates ("too tedious to mention")
[10] Orange County deed book 239, page 1848

 

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