Gorman Family (fl. 1800-1830s)

Variant Name(s):

Henry Gorman, Jr.; Henry Gorman, Sr.; John Gorman

Trades:

  • Plasterer

Building Types:

Styles & Forms:

Federal; Georgian

The Gorman family included a number of plasterers, including Henry Gorman, Sr., and Jr., and John Gorman, who executed plaster work in prominent 19th century projects across North Carolina. The family may have come from Ireland. Precise family connections are not known, but it appears that there were two plasterers named Henry Gorman, possibly father and son, plus a John Gorman in the same trade. Details of their lives and work have yet to be uncovered. At a time when fine plastering was still a luxury, and ornamental plastering was rare, such men were relatively few and were employed in projects in many locations.

Henry Gorman (fl. early 19th century) worked in 1800 on the “Government House,” probably the original State House in Raleigh—glazing windows, plastering, burning a shell kiln (oysters or other shells to make lime for plaster), and “Rumfordizing” 3 fireplaces and raising the arch of each. (The Rumford fireplace design allowed a smaller fire opening and shallower depth with greater efficiency than larger ones.) In 1810 Henry Gorman took apprentices to his trade. Gorman also accomplished the plastering at Fairntosh (1810-1811), the plantation house built for Duncan Cameron in present Durham County. Cameron employed a number of Raleigh specialist artisans to build his house in what was then rural Orange County; his detailed accounts listed Gorman’s plaster work in each room of the house. Gorman plastered and whitewashed the rooms in both the original, front section of the house in 1810-1811 and then returned to finish the large rear addition in 1820-1821. Like other artisans, Gorman took apprentices to his trade, who sometimes ran away. Gorman advertised in the Raleigh Minerva of September 27, 1810 for the return of William Hollyoman, his apprentic to the bricklaying and plasetering trade. Hollyman, aged 19 or 20 years old, absconded in company with William Grimes, a tailor’s apprentice. “He stole from me some plastering and mason tools, and a small shaggy-hair’d dog, with white and brown spots; the dog answers to the name of Ask him. I will give Two Dolars for my tools, Twenty-five cents for Ask’m and Ten cents for William” That man may be the Henry Gorman of Ireland whose death was reported in the Raleigh Register on November 6, 1840. John Gorman, probably a relative, did plasterwork in the remodeled State House in 1823 for $1,946.

A few years later, plasterer H. S. Gorman, possibly a son of Henry Gorman, was working near Charlotte, where he was employed by planter James Torrence to finish the fine plasterwork and moldings of the splendid brick house, Cedar Grove (1830-1833) in Mecklenburg County. He was probably the Henry S. Gorman of Cabarrus County (born ca. 1806) who in 1830 married Lucinda Lee in the same county and in 1839 married Julia Dalton in Surry County. In 1850 44-year-old Henry S. Gorman, plasterer, and his wife Julia were living in her mother’s household. He probably executed the elaborate decorative plasterwork there—in the Dalton-Hunt House, ca. 1855 in Yadkin (formerly Surry) County. Although much remains to be learned about the Gormans, the available bits of evidence suggest a family busy in a specialized trade.

  • Jean Bradley Anderson, Piedmont Plantation: The Bennehan-Cameron Family and Lands in North Carolina (1985).
  • Catherine W. Bishir, North Carolina Architecture (1990).
  • Cameron Family Papers, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
  • Capital Buildings Papers, North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, North Carolina.
  • Charlotte Observer, various issues.
  • Ernest Haywood Papers, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
  • Elizabeth Reid Murray, Wake: Capital County of North Carolina, Vol. I, Prehistory through Centennial (1983).
  • Raleigh Minerva, Sept. 27, 1810.
  • Torrence Family Papers, private collection, Mecklenburg County.
Sort Building List by:
  • Cedar Grove

    Contributors:
    Gorman Family, plasterers; Henry Gorman, plasterer
    Dates:
    1830-1833
    Location:
    Huntersville, Mecklenburg County
    Street Address:
    SR 2136, Huntersville vicinity, NC
    Status:
    Standing
    Type:
    Residential
    Images Puslished In:
    Catherine W. Bishir and Michael T. Southern, A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Piedmont North Carolina (2003).

  • Dalton-Hunt House

    Contributors:
    Gorman Family, plasterers; Henry Gorman, plasterer
    Dates:
    Ca. 1855
    Location:
    Huntsville, Yadkin County
    Street Address:
    SR 1716, Huntsville vicinity, NC
    Status:
    Standing
    Type:
    Residential

  • Fairntosh

    Contributors:
    John J. Briggs, carpenter; William Collier, brickmason; Fort Family, house carpenters; David S. Goodloe, carpenter; Gorman Family, plasterers; Henry Gorman, plasterer; Elhannon Nutt, joiner
    Dates:
    1810-1822
    Location:
    Orange County
    Street Address:
    5000 Old Oxford Highway, SR 1004, Treyburn vicinity, NC
    Status:
    Standing
    Type:
    Residential
    Images Puslished In:
    Catherine W. Bishir, North Carolina Architecture (1990).
    Catherine W. Bishir and Michael T. Southern, A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Piedmont North Carolina (2003).
    Frances Benjamin Johnston and Thomas Tileston Waterman, The Early Architecture of North Carolina (1941).

  • State House

    Contributors:
    Rhodham Atkins, contractor (1792-1795); Gorman Family, plasterers; Henry Gorman, plasterer; William Nichols, architect (1820-1824)
    Dates:
    1792-1795; 1820-1824 [remodeled]
    Location:
    Raleigh, Wake County
    Street Address:
    Union Square, Raleigh, NC
    Status:
    No longer standing
    Type:
    Public
    Images Puslished In:
    Catherine W. Bishir, Charlotte V. Brown, Carl R. Lounsbury, and Ernest H. Wood III, Architects and Builders in North Carolina: A History of the Practice of Building (1990).
    Catherine W. Bishir, North Carolina Architecture (1990).
    Elizabeth Reid Murray, Wake: Capital County of North Carolina, Vol. I, Prehistory through Centennial (1983).
    C. Ford Peatross, William Nichols, Architect (1979).

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