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Cosby, Dabney (1779-1862)

Birthplace: Virginia, USA
Residences:
  • Virginia
  • Raleigh, North Carolina
Trades:
  • Brickmason;
  • Contractor;
  • Builder
NC Work Locations:
  • Pittsboro, Chatham County
  • Chatham
  • Bethania, Forsyth County
  • Forsyth
  • Carthage, Moore County
  • Moore
  • Chapel Hill, Orange County
  • Orange
  • Greenville, Pitt County
  • Pitt
  • Raleigh, Wake County
  • Wake
  • Wake Forest, Wake County
  • Wake
Building Types:
  • Commercial;
  • Educational;
  • Public;
  • Residential
Styles & Forms:
  • Federal;
  • Gothic Revival;
  • Greek Revival;
  • Italianate

North Carolina School (Asylum) for the Deaf, Dumb, and Blind [Raleigh]

View larger image and credits

North Carolina School (Asylum) for the Deaf, Dumb, and Blind [Raleigh]

Biography

Dabney Cosby (August 11, 1779-July 8, 1862), a native of Virginia, had a long and distinguished career as a "brick builder" in Virginia and North Carolina. When he was about sixty years of age, he moved to North Carolina, and he practiced there until his death in 1862. His shop was among the largest in the state in his day, and his work in North Carolina includes twenty-seven documented projects, including major public buildings in Raleigh, Chapel Hill, and elsewhere, plus residences, churches, and commercial buildings. He specialized in constructing brick buildings, typically finished in "roughcast" stucco, in all the popular styles of the day from the late Federal style to the Greek Revival, Italianate, and Gothic Revival modes.

Like many builders of his era, Cosby contracted for work in various ways. Sometimes he (or his son and partner, the architect John W. Cosby) planned as well as constructed buildings. In other cases he erected buildings from architects' designs, most notably those of Alexander Jackson Davis of New York. For some projects he undertook the entire job and sub-contracted for the carpentry and other trades, and for others he contracted solely for the masonry and plastering. He called himself a "brick builder" in the 1850 United States Census and an "architect" in 1860.

In the operation of Cosby's large workshop in North Carolina, he and his sons served chiefly as contractor and supervisors, managing projects in which most of the skilled work was accomplished by their slaves and a few hired artisans. In 1840 Dabney Sr. and Dabney Jr. owned twenty-five slaves, ten of whom were males over 15 years old. By 1850 they had thirty-six slaves, including twenty men over 15, and in 1860 they had thirty slaves, including fourteen men over 15. Records for various projects supply the names of some of the enslaved workmen: in 1843 Mack, Arch, Spence, Ab (Absalom?), George and Henry worked on the Chatham County Courthouse; and in 1847 Cosby's workmen included Osborne, Albert, George, William, Nelson, Mat, Matt II, Giles, Henry, Henry II, Henry III, Clayton, Andrew, and Absolom. Among these, William, whom Cosby mortgaged in 1858, was a brickmaker, and Albert and Osborne were skilled in plastering and roughcasting; Osborne was with Cosby as early as 1840 and as late as 1860. Most if not all of these men worked in the brickmaking, bricklaying, and roughcasting businesses, though some could do rough carpentry. For fine carpentry, Cosby evidently hired other men as projects required, and in his later years obtained millwork from local manufacturers such as Briggs and Dodd. Cosby often divided his workers among concurrent projects, and in some cases left them to work on their own, to travel to and from work sites, and to make basic decisions on the job. He also shared supervision and other tasks with his sons, with whom he corresponded regularly concerning possible projects, demands, and problems in keeping a large shop occupied but not falling too far behind.

In addition to the trades of brickmaking and bricklaying, Cosby's shop specialized in "roughcasting," a technique of plastering or stuccoing the outside of a brick structure and then scoring the surface to resemble stone blocks--such as the "finely marked granite" at the Chatham County Courthouse. This technique, dating back to the Renaissance and promoted by Andrew Jackson Downing in Cottage Residences (1842), allowed a builder to construct a building of relatively inexpensive brickwork, and then cover the walls in a handsome finish. In antebellum North Carolina, the technique was employed in several substantial and fashionable structures where both stylishness and economy were desired, including those designed by New York architect Alexander Jackson Davis. Hence it was with some pride that Cosby stated in a letter of May, 1846, to university president David Swain of his workman Albert, "his Plaistering and Roughcasting here has preference to any done in This part of the State."

Dabney Cosby was born in 1779 in Louisa County, Virginia, a son of Zaccheus Cosby; many accounts have named Susan Dabney Cosby as his mother, but recent genealogical research by William B. Johnson, a descendant, indicates that Dabney's mother was Mourning Jackson Cosby. In the early 1790s the family moved to Staunton, seat of Augusta County. There is no record of Cosby's apprenticeship, but by 1799 he was working as a brickmason in Staunton. On March 5, 1801, he married Frances Davenport Tapp (1785-1867), the daughter of Vincent Tapp, Staunton's postmaster and clerk of court. Their son, Vincent Tapp Cosby, born nine months later, was the firstborn of the couple's twelve children. Two sons, Dabney, Jr., a builder, and John Wayt Cosby, an architect and builder, later worked with their father. Dabney Cosby, Sr., became a substantial citizen, owning several hundred acres of land in Augusta County, operating a tavern in Staunton, and serving as a founder and vestryman of the local Episcopal church.

In 1819, backed by references from friends and former clients and after an interview with former president Thomas Jefferson, Cosby contracted to work as brickmaker and bricklayer to erect the buildings Jefferson designed for the University of Virginia. As noted in his obituary in the Raleigh Semi-Weekly Standard from July 12, 1862, throughout his life Cosby referred often to his work "under the direction and superintendence of Mr. Jefferson," and spoke of "his conversations with that illustrious man, and the information he received from him in architecture and the art of making brick."

After finishing his work at the University of Virginia in 1824, Cosby engaged in a busy and often lucrative career in Virginia, which included brick courthouses, college buildings, churches, and plantation houses, many of which survive. He moved in 1829 to Prince Edward County and in 1835 to Halifax County, where he erected numerous buildings. In 1839, at age 60 and with an apparently successful business in Halifax County, Cosby moved to Raleigh, North Carolina, for reasons not yet known. Probably he was encouraged by prospects associated with the completion of the Raleigh and Gaston Railroad, which ushered in a period of growth. In September, 1839, Cosby advertised in the Raleigh newspaper for help in his brickyard. In November, 1840, he bought a two-story brick house on the corner of Dawson and Hargett Streets as a home for his large family.

Although he continued to do work in Virginia after moving to Raleigh, Cosby promptly embarked on North Carolina jobs, some of which he had probably landed before making the move. These included the Moore County Courthouse in 1839, and three projects in Raleigh all begun in 1840: the Rebecca J. Williams House, Will's Forest, and the Market House and Town Hall. That he gained these commissions so quickly suggests that Cosby brought his skills and workmen to a city that needed a competent builder in brick.

In the mid-1840s, Cosby took on additional public projects throughout the Piedmont. Much admired was the Chatham County Courthouse in Pittsboro, which the Raleigh Register described on November 22, 1844, as an "elegant building," built "from a Plan by Mr. John Wayt Cosby, Architect." The exterior was "made to resemble a finely marked granite" and had "a classical and imposing appearance" enhanced by the front portico, "a prophylon in the Grecian Doric style." This is the first reference to John Wayt Cosby as an architect, and the first mention of Cosby's using the technique of roughcasting in imitation of granite.

Concurrently with the Pittsboro job came a prominent undertaking in nearby Chapel Hill, where Cosby was one of the contractors to execute the plans by Alexander Jackson Davis to expand the Old East and Old West buildings at the University of North Carolina. At one point, Cosby tried to convince the university to use plans by his son John Wayt Cosby rather than those by Davis, but in the end Davis's plans were accepted. Isaac J. Collier and Kendall B. Waitt of Chapel Hill took the contract and then subcontracted with Cosby for masonry work. As related by Bullock in "The Enterprising Contractor, Mr. Cosby," there were disagreements between Cosby and Davis over the project, with university president David L. Swain in the middle. Cosby complained that Davis had not sufficiently analyzed the structural conditions or provided adequate working drawings. At one point, Swain consulted Hillsborough builder John Berry, who reported that Cosby's brickwork was defective, and advised Swaim to come see his own superior work on the Orange County Courthouse. Eventually the problems were resolved, Davis provided more drawings, and the project was completed.

Cosby obviously gave satisfaction at the university, for another Chapel Hill project soon followed--a small but striking Tuscan-style church designed by Alexander Jackson Davis for the Chapel Hill Presbyterian congregation, which included university president David L. Swain. In this project, begun in 1847 and completed in 1849, tensions again arose between the experienced builder and the New York architect. Charles Phillips, a congregation member and admirer of Davis, wrote to the latter on March 3, 1848, "You specify that the front, and I suppose the whole of the outside of the Church is to be a lilac gray. Now it has been so long since the last spring that our mason has forgotten the colour of the lilacs--nor does he know how to imitate it. Will you be pleased to help him, & us" (Charles Phillips to Alexander Jackson Davis, March 3, 1848, Alexander Jackson Davis Collection, Avery Library, Columbia University, New York City, New York).

Meanwhile, back in Raleigh, Cosby and his sons took the contract for a large public edifice, the North Carolina School (Asylum) for the Deaf, Dumb, and Blind, funded by the legislature in 1847. (The institution was variously called the School, the Institution, and the Asylum.) John Wayt Cosby designed the Gothic Revival exterior, while the interior was planned by the school's superintendent, William D. Cooke. The contract called for completion by October 1, 1848, but the project was delayed by logistical and financial problems including changes dictated by the governing board and the superintendent's insistence upon moving in before the building was finished. Eventually the legislature appointed arbitrators--including builders James E. Allen of Oxford and Jacob W. Holt of Warrenton--who settled the matter in Cosby's favor.

Continuing his work for the State of North Carolina, soon after this Cosby built a wing for the Governor's Palace in Raleigh, which was generally applauded. He continued to take on prominent projects and maintained his high reputation, which extended far beyond Raleigh. In 1848, when Wilmington's Benjamin Gardner designed a courthouse for Wayne County, the builder, John Becton, insisted that the contract's clauses about settling disputes include John Berry as well as Gardner, and if those two disagreed, Dabney Cosby would be called in as "umpire."

Cosby's last public projects, however, did not fare well. On January 8, 1858, the Milton Chronicle reported that John Wayt Cosby had won the commission as architect for the Caswell County Courthouse in Yanceyville, a costly edifice which his father Dabney doubtless anticipated building. But later that year, the county officials changed their minds and selected a design by architect William Percival, and by fall, the project was underway under his guidance. In 1858, too, Cosby took a contract to build the Pitt County Courthouse in Greenville, for which the building committee already had selected a Gothic Revival design by "Mr. Holt of Louisburg," probably Thomas J. Holt. For reasons of economy, Dabney Cosby and his son John Wayt made changes to the original design and began building accordingly. (In the 1860 census, both Dabney and John W. Cosby were listed in Greenville, along with another Cosby son, physician Howard Z. Cosby, for whom Dabney built a residence there.). But as the building rose, some of the commissioners began to object to the changes in the design. In the end Cosby left the project, the unfinished building was leveled, another architect and contractor were chosen and then fired, and the building stood unfinished for several years.

Cosby also continued to engage in private and residential projects. About 1850 he remodeled his own house in Raleigh into an Italian villa that captured local attention, and he built nearby a residence for the local Presbyterian minister, both of which are lost. His only documented private building known to survive in North Carolina is the Dr. Beverly Jones House near Bethania (Winston-Salem).

In 1846, Cosby contracted to build a brick house and outbuildings for Beverly Jones, a physician from Virginia, and Julia Conrad Jones, who had had married in 1843. Jones family papers document the project in detail, including the cost (Cosby received $2,061.25), the names of the slaves who worked on the house (Mat, Giles, George, Jesse, and Nelson), the cost of materials ($8 per thousand bricks), and letters between owner and builder. Cosby paid special and kindly attention to Mrs. Jones's concerns about her kitchen: Cosby wrote to Dr. Jones on January 30, 1847, "I hope Mrs. Jones will be permited [sic] to build that without any interference from father, mother, or you . . . . - you all have done enough on the house, let us alone for the balance, If she wants a little oven she can have it in or out of the Kitchen." (Born Julia Conrad in 1824 to a local Moravian family of German background, Mrs. Jones might have wanted such an oven because of her familiarity with the local Germanic tradition of indoor and outdoor bake ovens, a concept new to her Virginian husband.) As the project neared completion, Cosby wrote on October 8, 1847, "Please present my best respects to Mrs. Jones. I want to Know when She tries the Bake oven." (Dabney Cosby to Dr. Beverly Jones, January 30, 1847, and October 8, 1847.)

During the same period, Cosby engaged in some speculative and investment projects, which are some of the earliest documented examples of an artisan erecting speculative buildings for himself in North Carolina. These included some rental houses in Raleigh and other buildings. Cosby's most spectacular such project was the Yarborough House Hotel, a large and elaborate hotel located on Raleigh's main business street, Fayetteville Street. Cosby formed a partnership with other investors in 1849 to erect the hotel, which was designed by his son, John Wayt Cosby. It was built in the "Italian modern style" with an ornate, façade 141 feet long, and remained Raleigh's premier hotel until it burned in 1928.

In addition to Cosby's documented works, several buildings are attributed to him based on stylistic similarities to his known work and evidence that he was working in the community at the time of construction. In Chapel Hill, these include the Eagle Hotel Annex and the small Phillips Law Office, both picturesque masonry structures finished in roughcasting. In Milton, in Caswell County, the Milton State Bank (ca. 1860) and the imposing residence Dongola (ca. 1838) may have been his work as well, but these attributions are less certain.

At Cosby's death, the Raleigh Register of July 16, 1862, carried an unusually long and prominent obituary amid news about the Civil War. Without mentioning his profession, it lauded "our venerable friend and townsman" for his "marked and decided character." He was admired for his public spirit, his "integrity and honesty," and his "firmness and independence." After a long and "useful and well-spent life," he left a legacy of a "spotless name." Although many of his Virginia buildings still stand, Cosby's architectural legacy in North Carolina includes only a few surviving buildings. Nevertheless, those few plus photographs of lost buildings demonstrate the range and quality of his work, which epitomized the progressive spirit of his adopted state.

Authors: J. Marshall Bullock and Catherine W. Bishir.

Published 2009

Building List

Governor's Palace (Raleigh, Wake County)

Wake Raleigh

1814

Contributors:
Dates: 1814-1816; ca. 1820-1825 [addition]; 1855 [addition]
Location: Raleigh, Wake County
Street Address: South St. at Fayetteville St., Raleigh, NC
Status: No longer standing
Type:
  • Public
Images Published In:
  • Catherine W. Bishir and J. Marshall Bullock, "Mr. Jones Goes to Richmond: A Note on the Influence of Alexander Parris's Wickham House," Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians Vol. 43, No. 1 (March, 1984), reprinted in Catherine W. Bishir, Southern Built: American Architecture, Regional Practice (2006).
  • C. Ford Peatross, William Nichols, Architect (1979).
  • Elizabeth C. Waugh, North Carolina's Capital, Raleigh (1967).
Note:

Modeled after the plan of the Wickham House (1811-1812) in Richmond, Virginia, the brick building was razed in 1885.

Wills Forest Plantation House (Raleigh, Wake County)

Wake Raleigh

1840

Variant Name(s):
  • Devereux House
Contributors:
Dates: 1840-1841
Location: Raleigh, Wake County
Street Address: Wills Forest St., Raleigh, NC
Status: No longer standing
Type:
  • Residential
Images Published In:
  • Elizabeth C. Waugh, North Carolina's Capital, Raleigh (1967).
Note:

A rare example of a temple-form residence constructed in brick and featuring an Ionic columned portico, it was razed about 1900. Also known as the Devereux House.

Old West (Chapel Hill, Orange County)

Orange Chapel Hill

1822

Contributors:
Dates: 1822-1823; 1844-1848 [addition]; 1924 [renovation]; 1991-1992 [extensive renovation]
Location: Chapel Hill, Orange County
Street Address: University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Educational
Images Published In:
  • John V. Allcott, The Campus at Chapel Hill: Two Hundred Years of Architecture (1986).
  • Catherine W. Bishir, North Carolina Architecture (1990).
  • Catherine W. Bishir and Michael T. Southern, A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Piedmont North Carolina (2003).
  • Edward T. Davis and John L. Sanders, A Romantic Architect in Antebellum North Carolina: The Works of Alexander Jackson Davis (2000).
  • M. Ruth Little, The Town and Gown Architecture of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 1795-1975 (2006).
  • William S. Powell, The First State University: A Pictorial History of the University of North Carolina (1992).
Note:

Alexander Jackson Davis enlarged and remade the north façades of Old East and Old West with Tuscan end bays to face Franklin Street. Builder Dabney Cosby questioned his design. See J. Marshall Bullock, "The Enterprising Contractor, Mr. Cosby," for a detailed account of Cosby's involvement in the Old East and Old West projects. The photograph shows Old West on the right.

Old West

Old East (Chapel Hill, Orange County)

Orange Chapel Hill

1793

Contributors:
Dates: 1793-1795; 1822 [addition]; 1844-1848 [addition]; 1924 [internally reconstructed]; 1991-1992 [extensive renovation]
Location: Chapel Hill, Orange County
Street Address: University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Educational
Images Published In:
  • John V. Allcott, The Campus at Chapel Hill: Two Hundred Years of Architecture (1986).
  • Catherine W. Bishir, North Carolina Architecture (1990).
  • Catherine W. Bishir and Michael T. Southern, A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Piedmont North Carolina (2003).
  • Edward T. Davis and John L. Sanders, A Romantic Architect in Antebellum North Carolina: The Works of Alexander Jackson Davis (2000).
  • M. Ruth Little, The Town and Gown Architecture of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 1795-1975 (2006).
  • William S. Powell, The First State University: A Pictorial History of the University of North Carolina (1992).
Note:

Old East is the oldest building on UNC campus. It was enlarged and given the Tuscan end bay by Alexander Jackson Davis. See North Carolina Architecture and Architects and Builders in North Carolina for details and J. Marshall Bullock, "The Enterprising Contractor, Mr. Cosby," for a detailed account of Dabney Cosby's involvement in the Old East and Old West projects. It was gutted and rebuilt within the old walls in 1924.

Old East

Chapel Hill Presbyterian Church (Chapel Hill, Orange County)

Orange Chapel Hill

1845

Contributors:
Dates: 1845-1848
Location: Chapel Hill, Orange County
Street Address: 200 block E. Franklin St., Chapel Hill, NC
Status: No longer standing
Type:
  • Religious
Images Published In:
  • Catherine W. Bishir, Charlotte V. Brown, Carl R. Lounsbury, and Ernest H. Wood III, Architects and Builders in North Carolina: A History of the Practice of Building (1990).
  • Edward T. Davis and John L. Sanders, A Romantic Architect in Antebellum North Carolina: The Works of Alexander Jackson Davis (2000).
  • M. Ruth Little, The Town and Gown Architecture of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 1795-1975 (2006).

Chapel Hill Presbyterian Church

North Carolina Hospital for the Insane (Raleigh, Wake County)

Wake Raleigh

1850

Variant Name(s):
  • Dorothea Dix Hospital
Contributors:
Dates: 1850-1852
Location: Raleigh, Wake County
Street Address: Dorothea Dix Hospital Campus, Western Boulevard, Raleigh, NC
Status: Altered
Type:
  • Health Care
Images Published In:
  • Catherine W. Bishir, North Carolina Architecture (1990).
  • Edward T. Davis and John L. Sanders, A Romantic Architect in Antebellum North Carolina: The Works of Alexander Jackson Davis (2000).

Chatham County Courthouse (Pittsboro, Chatham County)

Chatham Pittsboro

1843

Contributors:
Dates: 1843-1845
Location: Pittsboro, Chatham County
Street Address: Courthouse Square, Pittsboro, NC
Status: No longer standing
Type:
  • Public
Note:

The Raleigh Register of November 22, 1844, carried a laudatory description of the Chatham County Courthouse, citing its "Grecian Doric style portico" and walls finished to resemble stone blocks. Records of its construction appear in the account book of Pittsboro merchant Henry A. London (Henry A. London Day Book, 1853-1845, North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, North Carolina). See J. Marshall Bullock, "The Enterprising Contractor, Mr. Cosby" (1982) for a summary of the entries.

Dr. Beverly Jones House (Bethania, Forsyth County)

Forsyth Bethania

1846

Contributors:
Dates: 1846-1847
Location: Bethania, Forsyth County
Street Address: SR 1611, Bethania, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Residential
Images Published In:
  • Gwynne Stephens Taylor, From Frontier to Factory: An Architectural History of Forsyth County (1981).
Note:

The Jones house is by far Cosby's westernmost project in North Carolina, lying well beyond his usual range of work. In contrast to some of his works, it is a conservative brick house combining late Federal and Greek Revival elements, with plasterered panels under the upstairs windows in a typical Virginia technique. Cosby encouraged Jones to tell others of his excellent work and why he had hired him to come all the way to Bethania. It is possible that Dr. Beverly Jones, a native of Virginia, was familiar with Cosby's work from Virginia and employed him because of that connection. See the Dr. Beverly Jones Papers, Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill. North Carolina and J. Marshall Bullock, "The Enterprising Contractor, Mr. Cosby," (1982) for a detailed account of the project.

Moore County Courthouse (Carthage, Moore County)

Moore Carthage

1839

Contributors:
Dates: Ca. 1839-1841
Location: Carthage, Moore County
Street Address: Carthage, NC
Status: No longer standing
Type:
  • Public

Eagle Hotel Annex (Chapel Hill, Orange County)

Orange Chapel Hill

1847

Contributors:
Dates: Ca. 1847
Location: Chapel Hill, Orange County
Street Address: McCorkle Place, University of North Carolina Campus, Chapel Hill, NC
Status: No longer standing
Type:
  • Commercial
Images Published In:
  • M. Ruth Little, The Town and Gown Architecture of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 1795-1975 (2006).

Phillips Law Office (Chapel Hill, Orange County)

Orange Chapel Hill

1840

Variant Name(s):
  • Old Law Office
Contributors:
Dates: 1840s
Location: Chapel Hill, Orange County
Street Address: 401 E. Franklin St., Chapel Hill, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Commercial
Images Published In:
  • M. Ruth Little, The Town and Gown Architecture of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 1795-1975 (2006).
Note:

Like the Eagle Hotel Annex, the small, stuccoed brick building features a striking entrance porch, with an arched opening rising from broad pillars and topped by a stepped gable. It is attributed to Cosby on circumstantial and stylistic grounds, and may have been influenced by Alexander Jackson Davis in its design. It was built as an office for law professor Samuel Phillips and was also used by William H. Battle; it is considered the birthplace of the University of North Carolina law school.

Dr. Howard Z. Cosby House (Greenville, Pitt County)

Pitt Greenville

1860

Contributors:
Dates: Ca. 1860
Location: Greenville, Pitt County
Street Address: Greenville, NC
Status: No longer standing
Type:
  • Residential

Market House and Town Hall (Raleigh, Wake County)

Wake Raleigh

1840

Contributors:
Dates: 1840
Location: Raleigh, Wake County
Street Address: Fayetteville St., Raleigh, NC
Status: No longer standing
Type:
  • Public
Note:

The building burned in 1868.

Rebecca J. Williams House (Raleigh, Wake County)

Wake Raleigh

1840

Contributors:
Dates: 1840
Location: Raleigh, Wake County
Street Address: Raleigh, NC
Status: No longer standing
Type:
  • Residential

Will's Forest (Raleigh, Wake County)

Wake Raleigh

1840

Variant Name(s):
  • Ann Willis Mordecai House
Contributors:
Dates: 1840-1842
Location: Raleigh, Wake County
Street Address: Devereux St., Raleigh, NC
Status: No longer standing
Type:
  • Residential
Images Published In:
  • Elizabeth C. Waugh, North Carolina's Capital, Raleigh (1967).

Pitt County Courthouse (Greenville, Pitt County)

Pitt Greenville

1858

Contributors:
Dates: 1858
Location: Greenville, Pitt County
Street Address: Greenville, NC
Status: Unbuilt
Type:
  • Public
Note:

Dabney Cosby took the contract for the Pitt County Courthouse, but after disputes with the commissioners over the design and the cost, he left the project, and the building was redesigned and given to another contractor. See Catherine W. Bishir, Charlotte V. Brown, Carl R. Lounsbury, and Ernest H. Wood III, Architects and Builders in North Carolina: A History of the Practice of Building (1990) for an account of the dispute.

North Carolina School (Asylum) for the Deaf, Dumb, and Blind (Raleigh, Wake County)

Wake Raleigh

1847

Contributors:
Dates: 1847-1850
Location: Raleigh, Wake County
Street Address: Caswell Square, W. Jones St. between McDowell St. and Dawson St., Raleigh, NC
Status: No longer standing
Type:
  • Public
Images Published In:
  • Elizabeth C. Waugh, North Carolina's Capital, Raleigh (1967).
Note:

The state institution for the deaf and dumb (and blind, originally) was known by many names, and it was expanded and altered by various architects and builders over the years. It was built on Caswell Square, one of the city's five open squares in the original city plan. The only part that remains is a section designed by Frank Pierce Milburn in 1898. Drawings and documentary photographs show the complex at different stages.

North Carolina School (Asylum) for the Deaf, Dumb, and Blind

William J. and Mary Bayard Devereux Clarke House (Raleigh, Wake County)

Wake Raleigh

1849

Contributors:
Dates: 1849
Location: Raleigh, Wake County
Street Address: Raleigh, NC
Status: No longer standing
Type:
  • Residential

Yarborough House Hotel (Raleigh, Wake County)

Wake Raleigh

1849

Contributors:
Dates: 1849-1851
Location: Raleigh, Wake County
Street Address: Fayetteville St., Raleigh, NC
Status: No longer standing
Type:
  • Commercial
Images Published In:
  • Elizabeth C. Waugh, North Carolina's Capital, Raleigh (1967).
Note:

The Yarborough House hotel was a major project and investment for Cosby. In addition to his own workmen, he hired others to work on the project, including the free black carpenter James Boon and Boon's employees. Work began in September, 1849 and continued through December, 1850. With the building taking form, the Raleigh North Carolina Standard reported on August 28, 1850 that the hotel, 131 feet long on the street front, was "in the Italian style of Architecture," built of brick and roughcast to imitate stone, and had been designed by that accomplished and skilful architect, John W. Cosby, Esq., of Raleigh." When it opened to customers even before it was finished, the elder Cosby wrote with satisfaction, "The Yarborough House is filled with the best custom, all the Big fish are with us and a good many Ladies also and if as big again would have been filled up" (Dabney Cosby to Dabney Cosby, Jr., November 28, 1850, Dabney Cosby Papers, Southern Historical Collection). Cosby subsequently purchased full interests in the hotel, and later sold it. Expanded and updated over the years, it was the city's leading hotel until it burned in 1928.

Yarborough House Hotel

Cosby-Heartt House (Raleigh, Wake County)

Wake Raleigh

1850

Contributors:
Dates: 1850 [remodeled]
Location: Raleigh, Wake County
Street Address: S. Dawson St., Raleigh, NC
Status: No longer standing
Type:
  • Residential
Images Published In:
  • Elizabeth C. Waugh, North Carolina's Capital, Raleigh (1967).
Note:

For his family residence in Raleigh, Cosby acquired the lot with an earlier, Federal style house on it, and soon added a towered façade that transformed the house into an Italianate villa. It was later the home of his daughter and her husband Leo Heartt. It remained in the family and was razed in 1954 and replaced by a gas station.

Cosby-Heartt House

McPheeters House (Raleigh, Wake County)

Wake Raleigh

1851

Contributors:
Dates: 1851-1853
Location: Raleigh, Wake County
Street Address: S. Dawson St., Raleigh, NC
Status: No longer standing
Type:
  • Residential
Images Published In:
  • Elizabeth C. Waugh, North Carolina's Capital, Raleigh (1967).

Rental Houses (Raleigh, Wake County)

Wake Raleigh

1852

Contributors:
Dates: 1852-1854
Location: Raleigh, Wake County
Street Address: Edenton St., Raleigh, NC
Status: No longer standing
Type:
  • Residential

Washington Manly Wingate House (Wake Forest, Wake County)

Wake Wake Forest

1855

Contributors:
Dates: 1855
Location: Wake Forest, Wake County
Street Address: Wake Forest, NC
Status: No longer standing
Type:
  • Residential

Dabney Cosby's Work Locations

Bibliography

  • Alexander Jackson Davis Papers, Avery Library, Columbia University, New York City, New York.
  • Catherine W. Bishir, Charlotte V. Brown, Carl R. Lounsbury, and Ernest H. Wood III, Architects and Builders in North Carolina: A History of the Practice of Building (1990).
  • J. Marshall Bullock, "The Enterprising Contractor, Mr. Cosby," M. A. thesis, University of North Carolina (1982).
  • William B. Bushong, "A. G. Bauer, North Carolina's New South Architect," North Carolina Historical Review, Vol. 60, No. 3 (July, 1983).
  • Dabney Cosby Papers, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
  • William B. Johnson, email to North Carolina Architects and Builders, July 21, 2009.
  • Jones Family Papers, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
  • M. Ruth Little, The Town and Gown Architecture of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 1795-1975 (2006).
  • Ruth Little-Stokes, "Dabney Cosby" in William Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, Vol. I (1979).
  • Ruth Little-Stokes, An Inventory of Historic Greensboro: Greensboro, North Carolina (1976).
  • Henry A. London Papers, North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, North Carolina.
  • Elizabeth Reid Murray Collection, Olivia Raney Library, Wake County Public Libraries, Raleigh, North Carolina.
  • North Carolina Standard, various issues.
  • Pitt County Records, North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, North Carolina.
  • Raleigh Register, July 12, 1862.
  • Raleigh Semi-Weekly Standard, July 12, 1862.
  • David L. Swain Papers, North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, North Carolina.
  • Wake County Records, North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, North Carolina.
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