North Carolina Architects and Builders - A Biographical Dictionary

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Freret, William A. (1833- 1911)

Birthplace: New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
Residences:
  • New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Washington, D.C.
Trades:
  • Architect
NC Work Locations:
  • Charlotte, Mecklenburg County
  • Mecklenburg
  • Wilmington, New Hanover County
  • New Hanover
Building Types:
  • Public
Styles & Forms:
  • Romanesque Revival

United States Post Office and Courthouse [Wilmington]

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United States Post Office and Courthouse [Wilmington]

Biography

William Alfred (Will. A.) Freret (1833-1911), a native of New Orleans, served as Supervising Architect of the Treasury from 1887 to 1889. He was the son of William Freret, a mayor of the city, and cousin to New Orleans architect James Freret. During his brief tenure as supervising architect, his office (which included some fifty draftsmen) planned numerous Federal buildings, most of which were imposing masonry edifices in Romanesque or Gothic Revival style.

Freret's known projects in North Carolina were the United States Post Office in Charlotte, a red brick edifice, and the brownstone United States Post Office and Courthouse in Wilmington. Both were powerfully composed masonry buildings in Romanesque Revival style with corner towers. The Wilmington "public building" was especially imposing, with a tall corner tower, dramatic roofline, and robust brick and stonework. It was one of the largest buildings in the city in its day. The brownstone came from a quarry near Wadesboro, North Carolina. The contract went to W. H. Smith of Michigan, and the work was supervised by experienced local architect-builder James F. Post. Although both post offices were well-built and substantial edifices, neither lasted long, for within a short time changing tastes had rejected such buildings in favor of neoclassical designs in 1915 (Charlotte) and 1936 (Wilmington). Like others of the major edifices of the late 19th century, Freret's once-admired works in North Carolina are long gone and all but forgotten.

Author: Catherine W. Bishir.

Published 2009

Building List

United States Post Office and Courthouse (Wilmington, New Hanover County)

New Hanover Wilmington

1888

Contributors:
Dates: 1888
Location: Wilmington, New Hanover County
Street Address: Front St. and Chestnut St., Wilmington, NC
Status: No longer standing
Type:
  • Public
Images Published In:
  • Susan Taylor Block, Cape Fear Lost (1999).
Note:

After various bidders submitted proposals to erect the Federal "public building" of brick or stone, W. H. Smith of Michigan received the contract in late 1888 to construct it of Wadesboro brownstone. Early in 1889 the plans were changed to add the tower. The cornerstone was laid June 4, 1889. Stonemasons and stonecutters came from other locales to accomplish the work. The building (pictured on the right), which contained various Federal offices as well as the post office, including a weather station in the tower, was razed in 1936 to make way for the present Georgian Revival style red brick post office.

United States Post Office and Courthouse

United States Post Office (Charlotte, Mecklenburg County)

Mecklenburg Charlotte

1890

Contributors:
Dates: Ca. 1890
Location: Charlotte, Mecklenburg County
Street Address: W. Trade St., Charlotte, NC
Status: No longer standing
Type:
  • Public
Images Published In:
  • Mary Norton Kratt and Mary Manning Boyer, Remembering Charlotte: Postcards from a New South City, 1905-1950 (2000).
Note:

The large, Romanesque Revival post office stood for only a short time before it was razed to make way for a neoclassical facility planned by C. C. Hook and built in 1915.

United States Post Office

William A. Freret's Work Locations

Bibliography

  • Susan Taylor Block, Cape Fear Lost (1999).
  • Dictionary of Louisiana Biography, http://www.lahistory.org/site16.php.
  • Mary Norton Kratt and Mary Manning Boyer, Remembering Charlotte: Postcards from a New South City, 1905-1950 (2000).
  • Antoinette Josephine Lee, Architects to the Nation (2000).
  • William Reaves Files, New Hanover County Public Library, Wilmington, North Carolina.
  • Beverly Tetterton, Wilmington: Lost But Not Forgotten (2005).
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