North Carolina Architects and Builders - A Biographical Dictionary

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Dall, Christopher H. (1796-1841)

Variant Name(s):
  • Christopher H. Dahl;
  • C. H. Dahl
Birthplace: Nova Scotia, Canada
Residences:
  • New York City, New York
  • Wilmington, North Carolina
Trades:
  • Carpenter/Joiner
NC Work Locations:
  • Wilmington, New Hanover County
  • New Hanover
Building Types:
  • Religious;
  • Residential
Styles & Forms:
  • Gothic Revival;
  • Greek Revival

St. James Episcopal Church [Wilmington]

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St. James Episcopal Church [Wilmington]

Biography

Christopher H. Dall (Dahl) (ca. 1796-July 27, 1841) was a house carpenter active in the early years of Wilmington's antebellum building boom. He was reportedly a native of Nova Scotia who worked at his trade in New York City for more than 25 years before coming to Wilmington, where he was chief carpenter in the construction of St. James Episcopal Church; the church was designed by Thomas U. Walter of Philadelphia and the superintending architect was John S. Norris of New York, who evidently brought Dall to the job.

The principal source of information about Dall is Mary Ellen Gadski's 1978 research report, "A History of the DeRosset House" (1978). Gadski states that New York City directories listed Dall as a carpenter in that city by 1813 when he was 21 years of age, and he worked there for over 25 years. He moved to Wilmington in 1839 for the construction of St. James Church: the cornerstone laying program identified C. H. Dall as the carpenter, Norris as supervising architect, and Walter as designer.

Dall also had a brief role in constructing the imposing, Greek Revival-style DeRosset House in Wilmington in 1841-1842. Eliza Ann DeRosset wrote to her sister Mary concerning construction of their brother Armand's new house: "Poor old Mr. Dahl [sic], the head workman & superintendent of Armand's building was taken off [died] yesterday with a bilious fever." He had left a large family "whom he intended to bring on next year." Miss DeRosset commented, "he is more regretted I suppose than any other man of that class in town—&being a stranger somewhat, it has excited a great deal of sympathy" (Eliza Ann DeRosset to Mary J. Curtis, W'ton. July 27, 1841, Moses Ashley Curtis Papers, SHC).

The next day, the Wilmington Weekly Chronicle reported, "DIED in this town on Monday evening, Mr. C. H. Dall, Carpenter, formerly of New York, aged about fifty-five years." His gravestone in St. James Church cemetery, erected by his son John, indicated that Dall was 49 at the time of his death. The inscription reads, "This monument is erected by an affectionate Son the only member of his family privileged to be near him in that trying hour when in a land of strangers, far from wife and children he was suddenly called from all that bound him to earth. He was a kind husband, and affectionate father, an honest man, and has left his family the imperishable patrimony of a good name."

Author: Catherine W. Bishir. Contributor: Janet K. Seapker.

Published 2017

Building List

St. James Episcopal Church (Wilmington, New Hanover County)

New Hanover Wilmington

1839

Contributors:
Dates: 1839-1840; 1871; 1885
Location: Wilmington, New Hanover County
Street Address: 1 S. 3rd St., Wilmington, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • 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).
  • Frances Benjamin Johnston and Thomas Tileston Waterman, The Early Architecture of North Carolina (1941).
  • Tony P. Wrenn, Wilmington, North Carolina: An Architectural and Historical Portrait (1984).

St. James Episcopal Church

DeRosset House (Wilmington, New Hanover County)

New Hanover Wilmington

1841

Contributors:
Dates: 1841-1842
Location: Wilmington, New Hanover County
Street Address: 23 S. 2nd St., Wilmington, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Residential
Note:

Dall died early in the project. The house was constructed on its spectacular site for merchant Armand DeRosset and his family. It was built in Greek Revival style but later remodeled in Italianate style and expanded. James F. Post and the Wood Brothers worked on the DeRosset House's outbuildings in later years. The DeRosset family was active in St. James Episcopal Church leadership, and some writers including Mary Ellen Gadski have speculated that the architect for the house was John S. Norris, architect of St. James Church, for which Christopher H. Dall was the carpenter.

Christopher H. Dall's Work Locations

Bibliography

  • Mary Ellen Gadski, "A History of the DeRosset House: a research report presented to Historic Wilmington Foundation, Inc.," vol. 1, part 1 (1978), http://digital.ncdcr.gov/cdm/ref/collection/p16062coll6/id/11141.
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