North Carolina Architects and Builders - A Biographical Dictionary

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Gooding, Thomas Stephenson (1786-1852)

Birthplace: North Carolina, USA
  • New Bern, North Carolina
  • Carpenter/Joiner
NC Work Locations:
  • New Bern, Craven County
  • Craven
Building Types:
  • Religious
Styles & Forms:
  • Gothic Revival

Christ Episcopal Church [New Bern]

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Christ Episcopal Church [New Bern]


Thomas Stephenson Gooding (1786-1852) was a New Bern builder and house joiner, best known for his work on Christ Episcopal Church (1821-1824). He married Elizabeth Shute on June 8, 1808, and their children included Thomas, Jr., and James.

The cornerstone laying of Christ Church, reported in the Carolina Centinel on July 14, 1821, included a long procession of dignitaries. Prominent among them were Martin Stevenson and Thomas S. Gooding, both house carpenters and both identified as the "architects" for the project. The term "architect" was used flexibly in this period, often to designate the individuals in charge of the project. Master masons were Bennett Flanner and Wallace Moore. The large brick church with tall, pointed-arched windows and a multi-staged tower was the first Gothic Revival style building in New Bern and one of the first in the state. Its early use of the Gothic Revival has raised the possibility that architect William Nichols had a hand in its design, but this has not been documented.

Gooding continued at his trade for many more years, and in the U.S. census of 1850 he was listed as a 65-year-old house joiner living with his wife, Elizabeth, 67, and son James, 32. Gooding owned $8,000 worth of real estate and nine slaves. He died on October 28, 1852, aged 66, and was buried in the Cedar Grove Cemetery in New Bern. His gravestone epitaph quoted Alexander Pope's words, "an honest man is the noblest work of God."

Author: Lynda Vestal Herzog.

Published 2009

Building List

Christ Episcopal Church (New Bern, Craven County)

Craven New Bern


Dates: 1821-1824; 1871-1885 [rebuilt]
Location: New Bern, Craven County
Street Address: 320 Pollock St., New Bern, NC
Status: Standing
  • Religious
Images Published In:
  • Catherine W. Bishir, North Carolina Architecture (1990).
  • Catherine W. Bishir and Michael T. Southern, A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Eastern North Carolina (1996).
  • Peter B. Sandbeck, The Historic Architecture of New Bern and Craven County, North Carolina (1988).

Christ Episcopal Church in New Bern, built in 1821-1824, was one of the first Gothic Revival churches in North Carolina. Although the local newspaper cited Martin Stevenson and Thomas S. Gooding, local artisans, as "architects," in 1820 the parish already had a plan for a church to be 70 by 55 feet, of brick, and with "high arched windows" before letting the contract. It was built of Flemish bond brickwork with pointed arched windows and a blending of Gothic Revival, Federal, and Greek Revival details. It is tempting to attribute some role in design to architect William Nichols, who had been in New Bern earlier, but there is no documentation of his role. Only the walls of this first period survive: after a fire in 1871 the church was rebuilt by George Bishop using the old walls. The image here shows the church after it was rebuilt following the fire. See Sandbeck, New Bern, and Bishir, North Carolina Architecture, for drawings of the 1820s church before the fire.

Christ Episcopal Church

Thomas S. Gooding's Work Locations


  • Carolina Centinel, July 14, 1821.
  • Gertrude S. Carraway, Crown of Life: History of Christ Church, New Bern, N. C., 1715-1940 (1940).
  • Lynda Vestal Herzog, "The Early Architecture of New Bern, 1750-1850," Ph.D. dissertation, University of California (1977).
  • Peter B. Sandbeck, The Historic Architecture of New Bern and Craven County, North Carolina (1988).

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