John Berry (August 18, 1798 - January 11, 1870) was a Hillsborough brickmason who became one of the most respected builders in the antebellum Piedmont. Berry was one of the first native North Carolina artisans to establish a large, long-lasting, and supra-local practice. Although his work concentrated in his native Orange County, he began early in his career to take major contracts within a several-county region, as far east as Wake Forest and west to Salisbury. He constructed some of the preeminent buildings of the region, both from his own designs and those of architects William Nichols, Alexander Jackson Davis, and others.
In addition to his multiple building activities, Berry was involved in local and state politics. He served five terms as state senator in 1848, 1850, 1852, 1864, and 1866, and one term as state representative in 1862. He was also a member of the constitutional conventions of 1861 (where he voted for secession from the United States of America) and 1863. He also was a "gentleman farmer" and enslaved as many as 42 people (according to his will).
He died in 1870 at his Orange County home, Sunnyside, and was buried in the Berry family plot in Hillsborough's Old Town Cemetery.
His papers are held at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC: wakespace.lib.wfu.edu/handle/10339/39204
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