Whitice, James D. (fl. 1840s)
James D. Whitice (fl. 1840s) was a brickmason who worked in Halifax County, Virginia, where he was involved in the masonry work of the great Greek Revival plantation house called Berry Hill, which was completed in 1842. He worked there along with Joseph Whitice, possibly his brother, and then went south to North Carolina, where his best-known work was Greensboro’s First Presbyterian Church II (1846).
Exactly when Whitice moved to North Carolina is not established, but he continued to associate with one John P. Chockley, who has been described as a fellow workman at the Berry Hill project. In the fall of 1844, the firm of Whitice and Chockley submitted bids from Greensboro for the masonry work of additions to Old East and Old West at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. They did not get the job. (See Dabney Cosby.)
However, James and possibly Joseph Whitice succeeded in gaining important commissions in Greensboro including a college and major churches. Among these were brick buildings for Greensboro Female College, “as completed by Messrs. Whitice & Dabbs, the undertakers,” as announced by George Mendenhall, president of the college, in the Greensboro Patriot, October 26, 1844. According to the History of the First Presbyterian Church of Greensboro, North Carolina, James D. Whitice and one H. C. Worth were identified in the cornerstone contents as the “architects” of the fine Greek Revival style Presbyterian Church and Session House in Greensboro, completed in 1846 at the substantial cost of $23,000. (The Greensboro North State of September 25, 1890, reported the discovery of the cornerstone when the church was demolished, and noted the documents in it.) This church, which replaced a smaller building, was a handsome version of the brick, pediment-front Greek Revival churches built for several Piedmont congregations during the antebellum period. For few of these Greek Revival brick Presbyterian churches in the central and western Piedmont have the builders been identified. Thus the cornerstone identification of the builders of the Greensboro church is especially significant and may suggest their role in other churches.
In 1850, the Greensboro Patriot of March 16 reported that the new Methodist church was nearly complete and presented “a very handsome front.” The brickwork was done by Mr. Whitice, the plastering by Mr. Anderson, and the woodwork by Mr. Rice. (Anderson and Rice are not further identified.) “The design of the building was carried under the superintendence of Mr. Rice,” and the whole was “executed in a most substantial manner.” Especially noteworthy was the fine plaster work of a “centerpiece” and the cornice as well as the walls.
Several years before this, the Tarboro Press of December 5, 1835, noted that the town’s newly completed Edgecombe County Courthouse was “highly creditable to the architect who drew the design, the enterprising builders Messers. Lynch and Whitice,”and the commissioners who superintended construction. Mr. Whitice’s first name was not given.
- Ethel Stephens Arnett, Greensboro, North Carolina: The County Seat of Guilford (1955).
- John Wells Simpson, History of the First Presbyterian Church of Greensboro, North Carolina, 1824-1945 (n.d.).
- University Papers, September-December 1844, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
- John E. Wells, “Berry Hill, Greek Revival in Virginia,” typescript, University of Virginia (1976).
- Contributors:James D. Whitice, builder; H. C. Worth, builderDates:1845-1846Location:Greensboro, Guilford CountyStreet Address:Church St., Greensboro, NCStatus:No longer standingType:ReligiousImages Puslished In:Ethel Stephens Arnett, Greensboro, North Carolina: The County Seat of Guilford (1955).Note:According to church history, the First Presbyterian Church completed in Greensboro in 1846 replaced a smaller brick church built in 1832. It in turn was replaced by a successor building in the 1890s. The 1846 church is a classic example of the Greek Revival, temple-form brick churches built for Scotch-Irish Presbyterian congregations throughout the central and western Piedmont of North Carolina; few of their builders are known. As was typical, it had a pedimented front featuring pilasters in brick, which probably continued along the sides, flanking large, multi-paned double-hung windows. It was distinguished by a multi-stage tower atop the gable roof. The Session House beside it presented a miniature version, with a portico but no tower. According to Simpson's history of the congregation, the cornerstone dated August 24, 1845, gave the names of the pastor, the elders, and the "Architects"—James D. Whitice and H. C. Worth, as well as the members of the building committee. Not surprising, the elders and building committee included several of Greensboro's leading citizens.