North Carolina Architects and Builders - A Biographical Dictionary

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Woodson and Rice (fl. 1840s, 1850s)

Founded: Prince Edward County, Virginia, USA
Headquarters:
  • Warrenton, North Carolina
  • Prince Edward County, Virginia
Trades:
  • Plasterer;
  • Brickmaker
NC Work Locations:
  • Warrenton, Warren County
  • Warren
Building Types:
  • Public;
  • Residential
Styles & Forms:
  • Greek Revival;
  • Italianate

Biography

Woodson and Rice (fl. 1840s-1850s), bricklayers and plasterers, consisted of Francis L. Woodson (1814-?) and Edward T. Rice (1820-1900), who worked as partners in their trades in antebellum Warrenton. Both men had come with their families from Prince Edward County, Virginia, part of a group of mainly Baptist artisans who came from that county to Warrenton at about the same time. Among the group were carpenter-contractor Jacob W. Holt and his brother Thomas J. Holt, with whom Woodson and Rice were often associated.

Their early lives and training in Prince Edward County have not been established. Like many business associates, the two men were related by marriage: Rice's sister, Sarah, was the wife of Francis Woodson. Warrenton memoirist Lizzie Wilson Montgomery remembered the men favorably and noted that Woodson and Rice were "contractors in the brick, lime, and mortar business, and employed a large force of hands in their work in the town and county, each one of these contractors putting his own hands to the work, if necessary." She noted that Rice was "held in much repute throughout his entire section as a contractor in brick building," and along with Jacob and Thomas Holt, built "most of the handsome residences in the county" before the Civil War.

The Woodson and Rice families lived in neighboring households at the northern end of Warrenton, in a neighborhood established by the Virginia "colony" of artisans near the Baptist church, which they also founded. The 1850 census identified Rice as a bricklayer whose household comprised his family plus two young white brickmasons and eight slaves. Woodson, too, was listed as a bricklayer and also as a plasterer, with a household that included his family, a journeyman bricklayer from Virginia, plus seven slaves. Warren County deeds record the two artisans' acquisition of land, their association with Jacob Holt, and their operation of a brickyard in Warrenton.

Although few specific attributions have been made to Woodson and Rice, it is likely that they built chimneys and foundations for many of Holt's framehouses, and, more important, constructed most if not all of Warrenton's small collection of antebellum brick buildings. The town's brick buildings of those years include the William Eaton House of the 1840s and the Nathaniel GreenHouse and Presbyterian Church of the 1850s. The principal brick building of the period, and the only work documented thus far to Woodson and Rice, is the Warren County Courthouse (1854-1858; NLS). To erect the imposing, temple-form edifice with classical portico and bracketed cornice, the county contracted with Holt for carpentry, Woodson and Rice for brickwork, and another man for stonework.

The Rice family left Warrenton in 1857. Rice became a farmer, merchant, and politician, and died in 1901. Francis Woodson, along with others in the building business including the Holts, left the community during or after the Civil War, and his fate is still unknown.

Author: Catherine W. Bishir. Contributor: Edgar F. Thorne.

Published 2009

Building List

Warren County Courthouse (Warrenton, Warren County)

Warren Warrenton

1854

Contributors:
Dates: 1854-1857
Location: Warrenton, Warren County
Street Address: Main St., Warrenton, NC
Status: No longer standing
Type:
  • Public
Images Published In:
  • Catherine W. Bishir, "Jacob W. Holt, An American Builder," Winterthur Portfolio (Spring, 1980), reprinted in Catherine W. Bishir, Southern Built: American Architecture, Regional Practice (2006).
  • Kenneth McFarland, The Architecture of Warren County, North Carolina, 1770s to 1860s (2001).
Note:

The temple-form brick courthouse combined a basically Greek Revival form with Italianate brackets adorning the four front pillars of the portico and the pediment and sides of the building. This was Warren County's second courthouse and was replaced by the third, the present building, by Frank Pierce Milburn, who advised the county officials that the Holt building was no longer sound and recommended replacing it.

Warren County Courthouse

Green-Polk House (Warrenton, Warren County)

Warren Warrenton

1850

Contributors:
Dates: Ca. 1850
Location: Warrenton, Warren County
Street Address: 326 N. Main St., Warrenton, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Residential
Images Published In:
  • Catherine W. Bishir, "Jacob W. Holt, An American Builder," Winterthur Portfolio (Spring, 1980), reprinted in Catherine W. Bishir, Southern Built: American Architecture, Regional Practice (2006).
  • Kenneth McFarland, The Architecture of Warren County, North Carolina, 1770s to 1860s (2001).
Note:

One of the few antebellum brick houses in town, the tall but shallow residence features ornate Greek Revival detail inside and out, indicative of Holt's workshop, with kinship to the work of Albert Gamaliel Jones. Client Nathaniel Green's creditors included both Holt and Woodson and Rice.

Warrenton Presbyterian Church (Warrenton, Warren County)

Warren Warrenton

1856

Contributors:
Dates: 1856-1857
Location: Warrenton, Warren County
Street Address: Warrenton, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Religious
Images Published In:
  • Catherine W. Bishir, "Jacob W. Holt, An American Builder," Winterthur Portfolio (Spring, 1980), reprinted in Catherine W. Bishir, Southern Built: American Architecture, Regional Practice (2006).
  • Kenneth McFarland, The Architecture of Warren County, North Carolina, 1770s to 1860s (2001).
Note:

The small brick church combines Greek Revival and Italianate features, plus (later) Gothic Revival windows.

Woodson and Rice's Work Locations

Bibliography

  • Catherine W. Bishir, "Jacob W. Holt, An American Builder," Winterthur Portfolio (Spring, 1980), reprinted in Catherine W. Bishir, Southern Built: American Architecture, Regional Practice (2006).
  • Lizzie Wilson Montgomery, Sketches of Old Warrenton, North Carolina (1984).
  • Edgar Thorne, notes from files of Herbert Bradshaw, Prince Edward County historian, 1970s.
  • Warren County Records (Deeds, Estates Papers, Miscellaneous Records, Public Building Records, Wills), North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, North Carolina.
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