North Carolina Architects and Builders - A Biographical Dictionary

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Kelly, Isaac B. (1791-1883)

Birthplace: Cumberland County, North Carolina, USA
Residences:
  • Duplin County, North Carolina
Trades:
  • Builder
NC Work Locations:
  • Duplin County
  • Duplin
  • Kenansville, Duplin County
  • Duplin
  • Sampson County
  • Sampson
  • Harrells, Sampson County
  • Sampson
  • Ivanhoe, Sampson County
  • Sampson
  • Kerr, Sampson County
  • Sampson
Building Types:
  • Residential
Styles & Forms:
  • Greek Revival

Biography

Isaac B. Kelly (1791-1883), merchant and builder, is reported by local tradition to have constructed at least four Greek Revival plantation houses in southern Sampson County (then New Hanover County) during the 1840s. He is also believed to have built his own residence in Kenansville, Duplin County. Tradition recalls that he had a pattern book from which his clients chose designs. The buildings attributed to him, like others in the area, show a bold Greek Revival style with heavy, rectilinear classical motifs. A native of Cumberland County, Kelly married Catherine Shepard in 1835 and lived in Kenansville, where he was a merchant, justice of the peace, postmaster, and state legislator. Kenansville tradition also cites Thomas Shepard (1770-1851), Kelly's father-in-law, as a master builder. The 1850 United States Census listed Shepard as a farmer and Kelly as a merchant. Like many men of their day, they may have combined contracting with other occupations; it is not known whether Kelly was a carpenter himself or was a contractor who employed slave or free artisans to accomplish the work. Kelly appeared again as a merchant in Kenansville in the 1870 census and in 1880 was listed as a farmer.

Author: Thomas R. Butchko.

Published 2009

Building List

Isaac Kelly House (Kenansville, Duplin County)

Duplin Kenansville

1841

Variant Name(s):
  • Kelly-Crost House
Contributors:
Dates: Ca. 1841
Location: Kenansville, Duplin County
Street Address: Main St., Kenansville, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Residential
Images Published In:
  • Jennifer F. Martin, Along the Banks of the Old Northeast: the Historical and Architectural Development of Duplin County, North Carolina (1999).
Note:

The 2-story, symmetrical Greek Revival house was the home of Isaac B. Kelly. Local tradition attributes construction to him or his father-in-law Thomas Sheppard.

Dr. John B. Seavey House (Harrells, Sampson County)

Sampson Harrells

1841

Contributors:
Dates: 1841
Location: Harrells, Sampson County
Street Address: SR 1100, Harrells vicinity, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Residential
Images Published In:
  • Thomas R. Butchko, An Inventory of Historic Architecture, Sampson County, North Carolina (1981).

James Kerr House (Kerr, Sampson County)

Sampson Kerr

1844

Contributors:
Dates: 1844
Location: Kerr, Sampson County
Street Address: Kerr vicinity, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Residential
Images Published In:
  • Thomas R. Butchko, An Inventory of Historic Architecture, Sampson County, North Carolina (1981).

John A. Corbett House (Ivanhoe, Sampson County)

Sampson Ivanhoe

1840

Contributors:
Dates: 1840s
Location: Ivanhoe, Sampson County
Street Address: Ivanhoe vicinity, NC
Status: No longer standing
Type:
  • Residential
Note:

The Corbett House was attributed to Isaac B. Kelly by Carolina Robinson Dellinger of Ivanhoe, granddaughter of client John A. Corbett, for whom Kelly is said to have built the house.

James C. Murphy House (Ivanhoe, Sampson County)

Sampson Ivanhoe

1840

Contributors:
Dates: 1840s
Location: Ivanhoe, Sampson County
Street Address: Ivanhoe, NC
Status: No longer standing
Type:
  • Residential
Note:

The Murphy House was attributed to Isaac B. Kelly by Carolina Robinson Dellinger of Ivanhoe, granddaughter of John A. Corbett, for whom Kelly is said to have built the Corbett House.

Isaac B. Kelly's Work Locations

Bibliography

  • Thomas R. Butchko, An Inventory of Historic Architecture, Sampson County, North Carolina (1981).
  • Ruth Little-Stokes, "Kenansville Historic District", National Register of Historic Places nomination (1975).
  • Jennifer F. Martin, Along the Banks of the Old Northeast: the Historical and Architectural Development of Duplin County, North Carolina (1999).
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