North Carolina Architects and Builders - A Biographical Dictionary

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Artis, Elvin (1820-1886)

Elvin Artis (1820-Jun 7, 1886), a free carpenter man of color, was evidently the "E. Artis" who was the contractor for erecting the Bellamy Mansion (1859-1861) in Wilmington, North Carolina for Dr. and Mrs. John D. Bellamy. The architects were James F. Post and his assistant architect, Rufus Bunnell. Most of the construction of the...

Bain, William Carter (1839-1920)

William Carter Bain (January 8, 1839- July 8, 1920) was a prolific and adaptable contractor who epitomized the energetic entrepreneurship of the post-Civil War well into the 20th century. Bain began as a small-town artisan, served in the Confederate army, and became a regional builder and manufacturer. Adapting successfully to changing times during a...

Becton, John E. (1813-1897)

John Everett Becton (1813-1897) was a Wayne County farmer and contractor best known as the contractor for the antebellum Wayne County Courthouse and Jail. According to his obituary, he was both a farmer and a "mechanic of highest order," with the courthouse and jail in Goldsboro to his credit. He was evidently one of...

Berry, John (1798-1870)

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...

Bishop, George (1824-1901)

George Bishop (1824-1901) was a New Bern house carpenter and furniture maker who pioneered the mass production of construction materials in North Carolina in the years shortly before the Civil War. Although he became primarily a manufacturer, he continued as a contractor and builder through most of his life. His career exemplifies an important...

Briggs and Dodd (ca. 1850-1868)

Briggs and Dodd was a building and manufacturing partnership formed in the antebellum era by two builders, Thomas H. Briggs, Sr., and James Dodd, in Raleigh. At one time the two were next door neighbors. They took on construction of several important Raleigh houses, including some planned by architect William Percival. In addition to...

Briggs, John D. (1856-1934)

John D. Briggs (April 5, 1856-June 23, 1934), member of a Raleigh family long active in construction, was a contractor, architect, and engineer responsible for many industrial buildings including several American Tobacco Company and Liggett and Myers warehouses in Durham. He was one of six sons of Thomas H. Briggs, Sr., the respected and...

Briggs, Thomas Henry, Sr. (1821-1886)

Thomas Henry Briggs, Sr. (1821-1886), builder and manufacturer, worked in Raleigh during a long career that extended from the antebellum period into the 1880s. With James Dodd, he formed about 1850 the company of Briggs and Dodd, contractors and manufacturers of building components. The firm constructed some of the city's most stylish and complex...

Coffey Family (1890s-1960s)

John William Coffey (1869-1960) and his son, John Nelson Coffey (1902-1988) were among the leading builders in Raleigh during much of the twentieth century. Although the elder Coffey practiced on his own for several years, the Coffeys are especially well known in Raleigh as the firm of John W. Coffey and Son, formed in...

Collier, Isaac J. (b. ca. 1810)

Isaac J. Collier (b. ca. 1810) was a cabinetmaker, carpenter, and contractor who worked in Chatham and Orange Counties from the 1830s into the 1850s, often in partnership with other artisans. Like many small-town and rural woodworkers, he combined trades in furniture making and building. He was one of several antebellum local artisans who...

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