Ligon and Perry (fl. 1830s)
The carpenters Ligon and Perry (Thomas P. Ligon [1803-1874] and Reuben Perry [1775?-1850?]) came from Virginia, worked briefly in North Carolina, and then moved to South Carolina. Perry was Ligon’s father-in-law as well as business associate. Only one project in North Carolina has been documented as their work. In a notice headlined, “Branch Mint at Charlotte,” the Fayetteville Weekly Observer of October 27, 1835, reprinted an article from the Raleigh Standard noting that the contract for construction of the “buildings for the branch of the U. S. Mint, at Charlotte in this State, has been awarded to Messrs. Reuben Perry and Thomas P. Ligon, Builders, of this city.” Theirs was the lowest bid, $29,700 among “some four or five competitors.” The writer commented, “From their reputation as practical Builders, and their standing and exemplary characters as men, the Government have a pledge for the faithful and prompt completion of the contract.”
This notice concerning the contractors for this prestigious project, an elaborate brick building designed by nationally known architect William Strickland, provides the principal known information about the architectural work of Ligon and Perry or either man individually. How they had earned such a good reputation in North Carolina is unknown. It is likely that Thomas P. Ligon was the “Mr. Ligon” who provided a design in 1835 for the main building at Wake Forest College in Wake County, which was built by Hillsborough brick builder John Berry.
In the case of Reuben Perry, his early career as a builder for Thomas Jefferson gave him valuable experience and surely enhanced his reputation. According to historian K. Edward Lay in The Architecture of Jefferson Country: Charlottesville and Albemarle County, Virginia, Reuben Perry was part of a family of carpenters who worked for Jefferson at Monticello and Poplar Forest from about 1800 to about 1818. Reuben Perry’s inventory of books, Lay reports, included “one Biddle and two Pains,” likely the architectural pattern books by Owen Biddle and William Pain, which were widely popular in the early 19th century.
Genealogical sources provide some details about the lives of both Perry and Ligon. Various accounts state that Perry was born in 1775, married Ann (Nancy) Stone in Fluvanna County, Va. on September 25, 1800, and moved with his family to North Carolina in about 1820. The Perry family was evidently in Raleigh by 1833, when the Raleigh Register of October 1 noted the recent death of Susan M. Perry, a daughter of Reuben Perry “late of Prince Edward County, Virginia.” Reuben Perry and his family later moved on to South Carolina, where he is said to have died in 1850. He was survived by his widow, Nancy, and several children.
Meanwhile, on May 28, 1827, Reuben Perry’s daughter, Lucy Ann, had married Thomas P. (Perkinson) Ligon in Prince Edward County, Virginia. One account says that Thomas P. Ligon was born October 26, 1803 in Virginia and died August 21, 1874, in Winnsboro, Fairfield County, South Carolina, where he and his family had moved in about 1839. After Lucy Ann Perry Ligon died in about 1843, Thomas married her sister, Frances Elizabeth Perry in 1844. The United States Census of 1850 recorded Thomas Ligon, a Virginia-born carpenter aged 46, living in Fairfield County and heading a household that included Frances, 31, born in Virginia, two adolescent children born in North Carolina, and five younger children born in Fairfield. The 1860 census recorded carpenter T. P. Ligon, aged 56, with his family still in Fairfield County, with $3,400 in real estate and $5,000 in personal property. After his death on August 28, 1874, The Fairfield Herald of September 2 reported that he “was a native of Virginia but came to this place about thirty-five year [sic] ago,” and another article in the Herald_identified him as being “an old and estimable citizen of Winnsboro” (reprinted in the _Anderson Intelligencer, September 10, 1874). Further research may identify additional work by Ligon or Perry as carpenters and builders.
- K. Edward Lay, The Architecture of Jefferson Country: Charlottesville and Albemarle County, Virginia (2000).
- Anthony Joseph Stautzenberger, The Establishment of the Charlotte Branch Mint: A Documented History (1976).
- Dates:1835-1837Location:Charlotte, Mecklenburg CountyStreet Address:Charlotte, NCStatus:No longer standingType:PublicNote:Strickland's mint burned in 1844. The mint was rebuilt in 1845 on the old walls as a 1-story building, from a design supplied by Franklin Peale, son of Charles Willson Peale. A photograph of the rebuilt mint appears in Anthony Joseph Stautzenberger, The Establishment of the Charlotte Branch Mint: A Documented History (1976). That building was disassembled in 1936 and rebuilt on a different site as the Mint Museum. There are no known images of the original Strickland building, which was different in appearance from the one rebuilt after the fire.