Pope, John Russell (1873-1937)
John Russell Pope (1873-1937), an important Beaux-Arts trained American architect best known for his design of the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D. C., designed a small, elegant building in North Carolina—a classical gazebo near Wilmington for Pembroke and Sarah Jones, the parents of his wife, Sadie G. Jones Pope.
John Russell Pope studied architecture at Columbia University, the American Academy in Rome, and the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, as well as traveling in Europe. After returning to New York in 1900, he worked in the office of architect Bruce Price before founding his own practice that would encompass many large and prestigious commissions. He designed residences for the Vanderbilts and other wealthy Americans as well as such major public buildings as the Jefferson Memorial and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D. C. Adept in a variety of styles, he is especially known for his neoclassical designs.
Relatively early in his career, in 1912, John Russell Pope married Sadie G. Jones (1887-1975), the only daughter of the fabulously wealthy Pembroke and Sarah Jones of Wilmington, N. C., New York City, and Newport, Rhode Island.
Pembroke Jones (1858-1919), a native of Wilmington and a rice planter, was enabled by a bequest from his aunt to enter the rice milling business and expand it from Wilmington to New Orleans. He soon became a financier with the guidance of his friend, railroad executive Henry A. Walters. He married Sarah Wharton Green (1859-1943), the daughter of Col. Wharton J. Green, a planter, Confederate veteran, and congressman. The Joneses moved to New York City in the late 1890s and successfully made their way into the “Gilded Age” society there and in Newport, where architect John Russell Pope was already active.
The Joneses had a summer home at the estate a few miles away from Wrightsville Sound now known as Airlie Gardens, where Mrs. Jones developed a famed garden and hosted house parties. In about 1902, Pembroke Jones bought a much larger tract near the sound for a hunting preserve. At Pembroke Park, as it was called, Jones built a grand lodge (1908) called “The Bungalow” designed by architect J. Stewart Barney. At both estates, as well as in New York and Newport, the Joneses held lavish social events for guests from far and wide—as reported by New York as well as Wilmington newspapers. This was part of a broader pattern of wealthy northerners and some southerners creating hunting estates in old plantation country.
The New York Times of September 12, 1912, reported the announcement of the engagement of Sadie G. Jones and John Russell Pope—”a surprise to society both in Newport and New York.” Wilmington and New York newspapers described their wedding of October 31 at the antebellum Lebanon Chapel at Airlie plantation and identified Pope as “one of the best known and most celebrated young architects in New York city.” One hundred guests attended the wedding and five hundred the reception afterwards, at which refreshments were served by Sherry of New York. According to one account, the Joneses’ wealth and social standing helped advance Pope’s career.
A special feature at Pembroke Park was the classical “temple of love” designed by the Jones’s son-in-law, John Russell Pope. It is a six-columned gazebo of stylized classical design, made of coquina, a shellrock material of concrete and shells. Pope also designed the gates of the estate. In his book, American Country Houses of To-day (1915), Samuel Howe featured “The North Carolina Estate of Mr. Pembroke Jones” and identified J. Stewart Barney as the architect of the “Bungalow” and John Russell Pope as the architect of the “Temple of Love and Entrance to Park,” which were pictured and lyrically described. The precise date of construction of the Temple of Love is not clear, but it was certainly completed by 1915 and may have been built to celebrate the couple’s wedding. Pembroke Park was later sold and developed as a gated residential community; the lodge is lost, but Pope’s little Temple of Love still stands.
- Susan Taylor Block, Cape Fear Lost (1999).
- Samuel Howe, American Country Houses of To-day (1915).
- M. H. D. Kerr, “Wharton J. Green,” in William S. Powell, Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 2 (1986).
- Smith, Clairborne T., Jr., “Pembroke Jones,” in William S. Powell, Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 3 (1988).
- Clairborne T. Smith, Jr., “Sarah (Sadie) Wharton Green Jones Walters,” in William S. Powell, Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 6 (1996).
- Beverly Tetterton, Wilmington: Lost But Not Forgotten (2005).
- Daniel J. Vivian, A New Plantation World: Sporting Estates in the South Carolina Lowcountry, 1900-1940 (2018).
- Dates:1919Location:Wilmington, New Hanover CountyStreet Address:Oakdale Cemetery, Wilmington, NCStatus:StandingType:FunerealNote:The mausoleum was built for Pembroke Jones, the father-in-law of architect John Russell Pope.