Freret, William A. (1833- 1911)

Birthplace:

New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

Residences:

  • New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Washington, D.C.

Trades:

  • Architect

Building Types:

Styles & Forms:

Romanesque Revival

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.

  • 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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  • United States Post Office

    Contributors:
    William A. Freret, Supervising Architect of the Treasury, architect
    Dates:

    Ca. 1890

    Location:
    Charlotte, Mecklenburg County
    Street Address:

    W. Trade St., Charlotte, NC

    Status:

    No longer standing

    Type:

    Public

    Images Puslished 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 and Courthouse

    Contributors:
    W. R. French, foreman; William A. Freret, Supervising Architect of the Treasury, architect; James F. Post, superintendent
    Dates:

    1888

    Location:
    Wilmington, New Hanover County
    Street Address:

    Front St. and Chestnut St., Wilmington, NC

    Status:

    No longer standing

    Type:

    Public

    Images Puslished 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.


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