Jones, William H. (1827-1873)
William H. Jones (September 22, 1827-November 7, 1873) was a brickmason active in New Bern from the 1840s until the 1870s. His only documented works are two prominent commercial buildings of 1871, both lost; it is likely that other work by Jones, as yet unidentified, still stands in New Bern.
He is probably the William Jones, an orphan aged 16, who on May 8, 1843, entered an apprenticeship with Joshua Denby, a New Bern bricklayer and plasterer active during the 1840s. In 1860, the census taker found William H. Jones, aged 30, living in a hotel as a single man and identified as a “master mason.” After the Civil War, Jones advertised as a “brick mason and builder” in Branson’s Business Directory between 1869 and 1872. In 1870, he was identified as a brickmason, aged 43, and head of a small household that included his wife, Charlotte F. Jones, 43, and two young children, Alice Sabiston (or Sebastian), 6, Charlotte’s niece; and John F. Arthur, 5.
Like other builders, Jones found his work in demand in 1871, after a fire in April of that year destroyed some of the most important commercial buildings in the downtown, and he gained attention in the local newspaper. According to the New Bern Daily Times of September 26 and December 31, 1871, William H. Jones was a “master mason” who had his own “corps of bricklayers.” In 1871 he constructed at least two brick buildings in New Bern. One was the Hughes Office Building, erected for Dr. Isaac Wayne Hughes and Dr. James. B. Hughes on a site formerly occupied by them on the east side of Middle Street between South Front and Pollock Streets.
Still more prominent was the Weinstein Building, a 3-story brick building constructed to replace the Weinstein Brothers’ brick store and a wooden building which had been destroyed by the fire; the Weinstein brothers were carpet and clothing merchants from Prussia. Their new brick building was planned by one H. C. Sydney of Philadelphia, and erected by William H. Jones in collaboration with the long-established New Bern builders, the Lane Brothers (see John B. Lane), who included John B. Lane and other sons of Hardy B. Lane, Sr. The Weinsteins’ new building featured such fire-retardant elements as iron shutters on the upper story windows, while on the street level, the shop windows had broad show windows measuring 12 feet tall by 7 feet wide.
Other works by William H. Jones have yet to be identified. His only known project before the Civil War was the Moses Griffin School, but he was likely involved in other late antebellum brick buildings. He died on November 7, 1875, and was buried in New Bern’s Cedar Grove Cemetery. His widow, Charlotte, survived him until 1886 and was buried in the same location with a shared grave marker.
- Craven County Records (Apprentice Bonds), North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, North Carolina.
- Lynda Vestal Herzog, “The Early Architecture of New Bern, 1750-1850,” Ph.D. dissertation, University of California (1977).
- New Bern Weekly Times, Sept. 26, 1871; Dec. 14, 1871.
- North Carolina Times, Sept. 20, 1864.
- Peter B. Sandbeck, The Historic Architecture of New Bern and Craven County, North Carolina (1988).
- United States Census, Craven County, North Carolina, 1850-1880.
- Contributors:William H. Jones, brickmasonDates:1871Location:New Bern, Craven CountyStreet Address:East side of Middle St., between S. Front St. (Tryon Palace Dr.) and Pollock St., New Bern, NCStatus:No longer standingType:CommercialNote:The office building was built for Dr. Isaac Wayne Hughes and Dr. James B. Hughes to replace their building that had burned.
- Dates:1848-1851Location:New Bern, Craven CountyStreet Address:George St., New Bern, NCStatus:No longer standingType:EducationalImages Puslished In:Catherine W. Bishir, Crafting Lives: African American Artisans in New Bern, North Carolina, 1770-1900 (2013).
Peter B. Sandbeck, The Historic Architecture of New Bern and Craven County, North Carolina (1988).Note:The wealthy New Bernian Moses Griffin left a bequest to build a school, and his estates papers and other records document the costs and the workmen involved. House carpenter Hardy B. Lane was the principal "architect" and builder, and William [H.] Jones was the principal white bricklayer. Much of the work was accomplished by free and enslaved artisans of color including Richard Tucker and Isaac C. Rue. It was a substantial Greek Revival style brick building similar in detail to other local buildings of the late antebellum period. It burned in 1922. See Sandbeck, New Bern, and Bishir, Crafting Lives.
- Dates:1871Location:New Bern, Craven CountyStreet Address:Middle St., New Bern, NCStatus:No longer standingType:CommercialNote:The Weinstein building had burned in the downtown fire of 1871 and was rebuilt in a more fireproof manner. It was replaced in the 20th century.