Scotland Neck Historic District
The Scotland Neck Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [†] Adaptation copyright © 2003, The Gombach Group.
The Scotland Neck Historic District is locally significant for listing in the National Register of Historic Places in the area of commerce and architecture. Scotland Neck's intact late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century brick commercial buildings reflect the town's economic growth during this time period. The needs of an increasing population were met with a mix of businesses, shops, industry, and banking institutions. Growth in the town was spurred by the formation of a number of textile mills in the early decades of the twentieth century. Several major businesses were also established to process the agricultural harvest of neighboring farms. The industrial expansion in Scotland Neck encouraged development of the town's business district along Main Street. Many wood buildings were replaced with more durable two-story brick structures embellished with raised parapets, metal cornices, brick pilasters and detailing. In addition to the business district, the town retains a diverse mix of modest and sophisticated domestic architecture from the early- to mid-nineteenth century up to the mid-twentieth century. The town's prosperity is reflected in many handsome Federal, Greek Revival, Queen Anne, Italianate, and Neoclassical Revival style houses from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries scattered throughout the district. The Scotland Neck Historic District also embraces a striking collection of houses from the first half of the twentieth century indicative of the popularity of period revival styles, including the Cape Cod house, Colonial Revival and Tudor Revival. Impressive church edifices built in the Neoclassical Revival, Tudor Revival, and Gothic Revival styles are also in the district. The period of significance for the Scotland Neck Historic District begins in c.1827, the date of the oldest extant house in Scotland Neck, and extends to 1952, after which no significant development occurred within the district. The post-1952 period has been evaluated, and it does not possess exceptional significance, therefore the fifty-year cut-off date is appropriate.
Although Scotland Neck did not officially incorporate until 1867, the area was settled by groups of colonists of English descent migrating from northern states and Scots Highlanders who reached the section via Virginia as early as the first quarter of the eighteenth century. Numerous families whose descendants played important roles in the later development of the town of Scotland Neck had put down roots in the region by the middle of the eighteenth century.
Early in the nineteenth century, two small settlements, Clarksville to the north and Greenwood to the south, were developing about one mile from each other, separated by pine forest and swampy terrain. The formation of the town of Scotland Neck was the brainchild of John H. Hyman of Clarksville who conceived the idea of organizing a town between the two villages and consolidating the three to form one town, called Scotland Neck. The outbreak of the Civil War caused a delay in his plans but at the close of the war, a surveyor was hired to lay off the streets and in 1867 the North Carolina General Assembly passed an act of incorporation for the town of Scotland Neck.
In the first ten years of its existence, Scotland Neck established a pattern of steady growth which was to continue well into the twentieth century. A thriving commercial district developed along Main Street. The arrival of the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad in 1882 provided easier access to markets for the growing town and the farms and plantations which surrounded it. The number of mercantile and other commercial establishments increased significantly with the coming of the railroad. Added to this mix by the turn of the twentieth century were several small manufacturing enterprises, six grain mills, several cotton mills, and a new financial institution.
Scotland Neck continued to prosper through the mid-twentieth century as a center of transportation and commerce. The citizens of the town worked cooperatively in promoting educational opportunities, building religious edifices, and establishing social institutions. Today, Scotland Neck's tree-lined streets, numerous historic homes and churches, and intact commercial district reflect the long history of the town as a center of population, commerce, and industry in Halifax County for almost two centuries.
Historical Background and Commerce Context
The name Scotland Neck was applied to an area of present-day Halifax County long before the town of that designation was incorporated in 1867. Groups of colonists had begun arriving in the area, then a part of Bertie Precinct, in the first quarter of the eighteenth century. They included families of English descent who came from Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, and Scots Highlanders who reached the section via Virginia. One of the districts in which they established settlements was a "neck" of land created by an eastward bend in the Roanoke River: the Scots called the region "Scotland Neck," a designation which survived long after the group had migrated onward.
Many of the English settlers stayed on, establishing large plantations and farms which were scattered across the southern portion of the county, particularly along the creeks feeding into the Roanoke River. Numerous families whose descendants played important roles in the later development of the town of Scotland Neck had put down roots in the region by the middle of the eighteenth century.
By the first quarter of the nineteenth century, two small settlements were beginning to develop about one mile from each other, separated by pine forest and swampy terrain. The northernmost of these communities was known as Clarksville because much of the land was owned by the Clark family, principally David McKenzie Clark, whose plantation house "Albin" is said to have been built in 1808. To the south was Greenwood, which was the name of a house said to have been built in 1796 and later owned by the Ferrall family (Black, p.2).
A major impetus for the growth of Clarksville and Greenwood was the need for commercial centers for the farms and plantations of the surrounding region. At Greenwood were several houses, two general stores, a buggy shop, two saloons, and a post office for the Scotland Neck area. Clarksville, apparently slightly larger than Greenwood, also had a general store, a drug store, and blacksmith shop, and an inn, as well as numerous residences (Black, p.2).
The most notable venture at Clarksville was the Vine Hill Academy, established in 1810 as a private boarding school for boys. With a seminary for girls added in the 1830s, the institution continued in operation for nearly 100 years, achieving an excellent reputation in the educational field. Marmaduke Norfleet provided the land for the school, some forty acres at the southern end of Clarksville. None of the various buildings associated with Vine Hill Academy survive (Black, p.2-3).
In addition to a small Methodist church, only a handful of houses was standing in the area between Clarksville and Greenwood prior to the Civil War. It was about this time that John H. Hyman (1830-1860) of Clarksville conceived the idea of organizing a town between the two villages and consolidating the three to form one town, called Scotland Neck. Already a property owner in Clarksville, Hyman acquired a 140-acre tract from N.B. Josey, Sr. Hyman had begun making a variety of improvements when the war broke out, forcing a hiatus in his activities (Black, p.6).
At the close of the war, Hyman recommenced his endeavors to develop the town of Scotland Neck, hiring a survey team from Petersburg, Virginia, to lay off the streets. In the original plan, there were four north-south streets — Church, Main, Roanoke, and Greenwood — and twelve numbered cross streets which ran east to west. Hyman had three rows of trees planted along Main Street and began grading lots in preparation for building construction. The North Carolina General Assembly passed an act of incorporation for the town of Scotland Neck in February, 1867, naming Jehu Nicholls, Eli C. Biggs, and N.B. Josey, Sr., as the board of alderman. Hyman did not live to see the fruits of his efforts, as he died in 1868 (Black, p.7).
In the first ten years of its existence as an incorporated town, Scotland Neck established a pattern of steady growth which was to continue well into the twentieth century. This early growth was evidenced in the proliferation of commercial ventures and the growing number of professionals recorded in Levi Branson's North Carolina business directories. The 1867-68 volume listed six general merchants and one drug store, one hotel, one lawyer, three mills, and five physicians. By 1877-78, the number of mercantile establishments had increased to twenty-six; the majority of these were general stores, although there were four bars, two dry goods stores, and one grocer. Five grist mills and one corn mill were in operation, while Peter Smith was manufacturing agricultural implements, and John C. Williams was engaged in building and contracting. Finally, the town had five physicians and seven attorneys, including one black lawyer.
The earliest commercial buildings, located along Main Street between present-day Ninth and Thirteenth streets, were of frame construction. Some continued in use until the early twentieth century, but were gradually replaced by more substantial brick buildings. Many of the individuals involved in these businesses were not natives of the immediate area. They arrived in Scotland Neck from various parts of the state, and from other states as well, to participate in the founding of a new town and to take advantage of new opportunities after the hardships of the Civil War. For example, Jehu Nicholls, one of the town's original incorporators, was born and reared in Plymouth, but moved with his family to Scotland Neck shortly after the Civil War and was the first merchant to open a general store in the new town (Black, p.8).
Scotland Neck made advances on several fronts during the brief period between 1878 and 1884. The year 1882 was of particular significance as a branch line for the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad was constructed to Scotland Neck, thus giving the growing town and the surrounding farms and plantations easier access to markets. It also simplified the task of local merchants in acquiring a broader line of goods for sale. The number of mercantile and other commercial establishments listed in Branson's business directory had increased from twenty-six to thirty-four; although the majority were still categorized as general stores, also listed were a railroad agent and postmaster, five saloons, two drug stores, and two dry goods stores (Black, p.10).
Also during 1882, the town's first newspaper was established by W.H. Kitchin (1837-1901), a Civil War veteran who had settled in Scotland Neck after the war and engaged in farming. The newspaper, known at various times as The Democrat or The Commonwealth, its present name; continues in publication. After a short time, Kitchin took up the study of law, passed the bar, and became active in politics as a member of the Democratic party. In 1878, he was elected to the United States Congress, serving only one term. After his term ended, he returned to Scotland Neck, practiced law, edited The Democrat for several years, participated in numerous business and industrial enterprises, was active in the development of Scotland Neck, and raised a large family (nine sons and two daughters) (Black, p.11).
In addition to this increased number of commercial operations, Scotland Neck by 1884 had several small manufacturing enterprises. Peter Smith was still making agricultural implements, but he had been joined by C. Clark, an African-American who did iron and wood work, and J.T. Savage and W.M. Crump, coach and carriage builders. The industrious W.H. Kitchin had entered the building and contracting field, so that the town now had two companies to provide the buildings necessary to its growth. Six mills were engaged in processing corn from Scotland Neck's agricultural environs (Black, 11).
On the professional front, the number of physicians and attorneys had gone into a temporary decline. In 1884, Branson listed only three of each in Scotland Neck. Two hotels were operating to serve the traveling public, one of which was located near the rail line running through the eastern section of town (Black, p.12).
Two of the local churches moved to more central locations during this period. First, Zion Baptist Church acquired a tract of land on the northeast corner of Church and present-day 10th Street in 1882 and built a frame Gothic Revival church and an adjacent parsonage. Renamed Scotland Neck Baptist Church, the congregation sold its earlier building to Vine Hill Academy. The local Episcopal parish also built a church in town after the building which became known as Old Trinity Church, located north of town, was extensively damaged by fire (Black, p.12).
During the years between 1884 and 1890 the town's first major industry (the Scotland Neck Cotton Mills), its first bank, and a building and loan association were established. Branson's gave Scotland Neck's population as 1,250, although they may have included Clarksville and Greenwood, which remained outside Scotland Neck's town limits, in arriving at this number. The town's growing influence in county affairs was reflected in the fact that local physician, W.R. Wood, was chairman of the county commissioners, W.H. Kitchin was chairman of the county board of education, and chief of police, B.I. Allsbrook, was also the county sheriff (Black, p.14).
In 1889, it was announced that the Scotland Neck branch line of the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad, which previously had its terminus in the new town, would be extended to Kinston, part of a general expansion effort by that company in the late 1880s and early 1890s. By 1890, Scotland Neck had four hotels, five lawyers, and five physicians, including one dentist. One of the lawyers, E.E. Hilliard, was also editor of the local newspaper. In addition to Vine Hill Male and Female academies, five other schools — the Nahal Academy, an academy for black children, and three small private schools — were accepting students in Scotland Neck (Black, pp.14-15).
Three building contractors used brick manufactured by D.A. Madry in the construction of houses, commercial buildings, and factories. There were five coach and buggy builders. C. Clark still worked in iron and wood, and Peter Smith remained engaged in the production of agricultural implements. Moses Pitt operated a machine shop, and Rufus Gardner manufactured peanut planters. Three standard water-powered mills were processing corn, while three others had changed over to steam. Of the latter three, one also operated a cotton gin, and another, owned by W.H. Kitchin, added a cotton gin, a flour mill, a saw mill, and a planing mill (Black, p.15).
Scotland Neck Cotton Mills was organized in 1889, the town's first major foray into the state's industrial revolution. A group of prominent local businessmen saw a cotton mill as a way of pulling the town out of a slump which naturally followed the first euphoric years after its creation. A long list of individuals participated in its formation by buying shares in the company, but the names of the eight incorporators resound with the New South entrepreneurial spirit: D. Edmondson, Noah Biggs, M. Hoffman, N.B. Josey, R.C. Josey, A. McDowell, G.S. White, and W.H. Kitchin. Many of these names recur again and again in association with nearly every new venture undertaken in Scotland Neck in the last quarter of the nineteenth century and the first quarter of the twentieth century.
With an increasingly active manufacturing sector in its economy and a large mercantile contingent, Scotland Neck needed financial institutions. In 1890, several of the same individuals mentioned above were active in the establishment of the first bank in Halifax County, the Scotland Neck Bank, which opened in January 1891, with A. McDowell as its president and F.P. Shields as its cashier. To assist local residents in financing home construction, a building and loan association was also organized in 1890: the latter institution incorporated in 1912 (Black, p.17).
The final decade of the nineteenth century was a period of sustained growth and progress in Scotland Neck. By 1900, the population had officially increased to 1,348. The 1896 edition of Branson's recorded thirty-six merchants and tradesmen in the town, with increasing specialization in the types of establishments offering goods and services for sale. While the majority were still offering general merchandise, there were several livery stables, a butcher, three shoemakers, and two milliners. Most of the numerous milling operations — corn, saw, gin, and planing — had converted to steam power. Added to the manufacturing component were a saddle and harness shop, a cabinet maker and upholsterer, and the Southern Sweet Gum Company (Black, pp.19-20).
The Scotland Neck Military Academy opened in 1891 in a large brick structure between Main and Church streets north of present-day 5th Street. It was intended as a modern replacement for the Vine Hill Male Academy whose buildings were given to the Female Academy so the latter institution would have larger and better facilities. The military school did not achieve the renown or popularity of the earlier schools and closed after less than three years of operation. Vine Hill Male Academy re-opened its doors for a few years in the military school's building. This structure was used for many years as a storage facility before its post-1930 conversion to apartments (Black, p.20).
With the arrival of the twentieth century, Scotland Neck became an even more active participant in the state's industrial expansion and began providing a variety of amenities for its citizens. The North Carolina Yearbook for 1902 shows that the Scotland Neck Cotton Mills had been joined by the Scotland Neck Shirt Manufacturing Company, Lockland Knitting Mills, and the J.E. Shields Knitting Mills. Other manufactured items included bricks, carriages, and mattresses. The combination of rail accessibility and the continued prominence of cotton cultivation in the surrounding area resulted in the cotton buying and brokering business having three local entrants. Finally, the 1901 Sanborn maps for Scotland Neck show that, for a brief time, the town engaged in the tobacco business. Near the cotton mill were two warehouses and two prizeries, where Halifax County farmers could bring their tobacco for sale and preparation for shipment to factories (Black, p.21).
Scotland Neck's first telephones were installed in 1901 after A. McDowell, Dr. R.M. Johnson, and Frank P. Shields formed a small company and purchased the equipment necessary for a simple system. Until 1912, the exchange was located in one of the units of the two-story brick 1880s building on Main Street just south of Tenth Street. In 1904, the town built an electric plant near the railroad station to provide electricity to residents on a commercial basis. A local committee acquired the buildings and land of the Vine Hill Academy located between Main and Church streets north of present-day 13th Street, opening the town's first public school for white students in 1903 (no longer extant) (Black, p.22).
The growth of population, business, and industry in Scotland Neck convinced several local businessman and professionals that there was room for a second banking institution, and in 1907 Claude Kitchin became the first president of the Planters and Commercial Bank (1101 Main Street), of which former railroad agent, O.J. Moore, was the cashier (Black, p.22).
Several major building projects were undertaken locally in the first decade of the twentieth century, including the 1903 construction of a two-story brick addition to the Scotland Neck Cotton Mills (Sanborn maps). In the central business district a number of important buildings were erected or remodeled, producing a significant group of architecturally distinguished commercial buildings. The 1903 Classical Revival-style Biggs Building at 1000 Main Street operated as a general mercantile firm for over twenty years. The building derives its name from the original owner, Noah Biggs, whose adopted sons, James Pittman and Tyler Wheeler were two of the principals in the company. The building to the north, the 1903 Biggs Building Annex (1002 Main Street) housed the clothing and grocery departments, as well as the dry goods and furniture divisions. A funeral parlor was located on the third floor of the building. The second R.C. Josey Building, erected in 1904 at 1014 Main Street, is an impressive two-story Neoclassical Revival-style building built for Josey's hardware business. The business was succeeded in 1930 by Farmers Hardware Company, which remained in the building for many years. A 1906 two-story brick commercial building erected at 916-918 Main Street was originally occupied by J.W. Madry's Department Store. Additional early businesses in the store included several grocery stores and Hall's Drug Store. A meeting hall occupied the second level. Madry's Department Store moved into a new building in 1909 at 928 Main Street. They remained in this two-story brick building for over sixty years.
Scotland Neck entered the second decade of the twentieth century with a population of 1,726, a public school system, a broad array of business establishments, a solid industrial base, and a substantial group of builders, painters, plumbers, lumber and wallpaper dealers, etc., who would be needed during the boom years that followed (Black, p.25).
In 1911, J.W. Madry completed a substantial two-story brick building to house his department store (928 Main Street), which continued in operation there for more than sixty years. The following years saw the construction of a handsome Classical Revival, pressed brick building for the local telephone exchange (110 E. 10th Street), which had been taken over by Carolina Telephone and Telegraph Company of Tarboro. On the southeast corner of the intersection of Main and Tenth streets is the impressive Classical Revival structure which was the new home of the Scotland Neck Bank. Local contractors Peyton Keel and R.J. Mauney were hired in 1914 to construct the edifice for the bank, which had previously been quartered in the Scotland Neck Hotel (Black, p.25). Members of the Kitchin family were also involved in the construction of several buildings in the commercial district during this period including the Kitchin-Strickland Building at 1006 Main Street and the Kitchin-Moore Commercial Block at 1103-1111 Main Street.
Advances in technology in the first decades of the twentieth century resulted in new construction in the town. Built in 1915, the two-story brick building with decorative limestone detailing at 919 Main Street was designed for the sale, service, and storage of automobiles. A frame passenger depot went up north of the freight depot, constructed by the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad, which had absorbed the Wilmington and Weldon in 1900. Agitation began as early as 1914 for a town water and sewer system, resulting in 1916 additions to the electric plant in the eastern part of town. Scotland Neck's only movie theater, the Dixie, was built about 1917 on the west side of the 900 block of Main Street (no longer extant). It was also during this period that the town began paving its streets (Grill, p.19).
On the industrial front, the processing of the yield of neighboring farm land continued to be the principal undertaking. Several cotton gins operated in town, also dealing in by-products such as cotton and seed oil. Peanuts had become the county's third largest farm product, based on the number of acres in peanut cultivation. Scotland Neck's businessmen quickly took advantage of this change, organizing the American Spanish Peanut Company in 1914 to process some of the county's output (Black, p.26). Lumber mills remained an important component of the local economy, making use of the expanses of forest still in existence in the area. At the end of the decade, a new textile mill, the Roanoke Hosiery Company, became a part of Scotland Neck's industrial base. Its organizers included A. McDowell, president of the Scotland Neck Cotton Mills, two of his nephews, and H.T. Clark (Black, p.26).
One of the most ambitious building projects of the second decade of the twentieth century was the 1917-18 construction of a new edifice for the Scotland Neck Baptist Church on Church Street. Local contractors were kept busy building a broad range of houses during the second decade of the twentieth century, from modest frame worker houses to near-mansions of solid masonry construction, from familiar vernacular types to relatively high-style Craftsman, Classical and Colonial Revival residences.
Scotland Neck's population increased by about fifteen percent during the 1920s, from slightly more than 2,000 in 1920 to 2,339 in 1930 (U.S. Census cumulative statistics). When fire struck Trinity Episcopal Church (northeast corner Main and E. 13th streets) in 1924, it was quickly replaced with a brick church built in the Tudor Revival style. In 1927, the Catholic community built a small Catholic chapel, St. Anne's (1715 Main Street) in the Clarkesville area. In the commercial district, D.E. and R.C. Josey built a two-story brick building with a restrained decorative treatment at 1016-1018 Main Street. The Scotland Neck Bank and the Planters and Commercial Bank merged in 1927, continuing to occupy the former's building (southeast corner Main and 10th streets). A local Nehi Bottling Company was organized in 1928 and moved into a former automobile repair building on the north side of West 12th Street (between Main and Church streets) (Black, p.30).
On the industrial front, small additions were made to the Scotland Neck Cotton Mills plant, and a variety of agriculturally-related businesses were organized, including the Scotland Neck Peanut Company, the Scotland Neck Sweet Potato Growers Cooperative Association, and the Scotland Neck Mutual Exchange. The latter two groups were intended to assist farmers to more profitable operations through group marketing of products and group buying of supplies and equipment (Black, p.30).
During the Depression years, Scotland Neck's population increased by 220 inhabitants, but business, industry, and construction took a downward turn. In 1932, the Scotland Neck Bank was taken over by the more stable Bank of Halifax, but the latter retained the 1914 building as its local branch. Four years later, the Scotland Neck Cotton Mills merged with the Roanoke Hosiery Company and re-organized as the Halifax County Hosiery Mills (Black, p.31).
The largest building projects of the period were carried out with the assistance of the federal government, cooperative efforts of the town and the Works Progress Administration. The first of these buildings was the 1939 Scotland Neck Town Hall and Fire Station, a Colonial Revival-influenced stuccoed building at 110 East 11th Street. The following year saw the construction of a vocational education building and gymnasium (1403 Church Street) as part of the complex of the Scotland Neck public schools. The 1940 brick building is the only one of the pre-World War II school structures surviving on the site that had once been occupied by the Vine Hill Academy.
Scotland Neck's development in the years since World War II has been typical of North Carolina's small towns. Many of the buildings in the commercial district received new aluminum and glass shop fronts, while the upper facades of about one-fourth of the buildings were covered with metal panels. Modern gasoline and service stations were built at several locations in the commercial district. At the southern end of the central business district, residences were replaced with modern commercial establishments with large parking areas.
Infill and replacement construction in the established residential neighborhoods followed typical patterns, with Cape Cods, Colonial Revivals, and brick Ranch houses dominating. As the older neighborhoods became relatively densely developed, construction spread westward into previously undeveloped areas around the town's perimeter. The transition from town to farmland, however, is still strongly marked.
Much of the information for the architectural context was garnered from individual survey files located in the State Historic Preservation Office which were compiled by Allison Black during a 1989 architectural survey of Scotland Neck.
Scotland Neck's oldest houses, dating from the first quarter of the nineteenth century, are located in the sections of the town which were previously known as Clarksville (to the north) and Greenwood (to the south), initially separated by approximately one mile. Modern development at the southern end of town has prevented the inclusion of the Greenwood area in the Scotland Neck Historic District.
A complicated mix of architectural styles and construction technologies reflects the long and complex history of the Fenner-Shields-Lamb House (1612 Church Street), one of the two oldest surviving houses within the corporate limits of Scotland Neck and the one most clearly revealing its early nineteenth century origins. The earliest section of the house, believed to be the four front rooms (two up and two down), is said to have been standing by 1827. The house was altered and enlarged in the 1920s with the addition of four rooms, the relocation of the chimneys, and rebuilding the porch. Today, the house is a two-story, single-pile, gable-roofed dwelling with a two-story shed wing across the rear and a two-story rear ell. On the interior, paneled wainscoting, a mantel, and several six-panel doors with their original cast-iron hinges survive from the 1820s. Surviving Greek Revival elements include several post-and-lintel mantels and Asher Benjamin-style molded surrounds with bull's eye corner blocks. A Colonial Revival mantel with columns and several doors with six horizontal panels remain on the second level.
A few houses built during the middle decades of the nineteenth century also survive in Scotland Neck. The enduring popularity of the Greek Revival style in North Carolina resulted in many of its characteristic features appearing in buildings as early as the 1830s and as late as the turn of the twentieth century. The appropriate forms and details for the Greek Revival style became familiar throughout the country by way of pattern books published in the 1820s and 1830s, which many carpenters and contractors owned or were familiar with. The less direct the access to these pattern books, the more naive and unsophisticated were the interpretations of the style (Black, p.5).
Greek Revival elements, such as mantels, doors, and moldings can be found in several overbuilt and remodeled houses in Scotland Neck. Among the most significant of these are the John P. Futrell House (301 W. 12th Street) and Claude Kitchin House (1723 Main Street), both said to date to the 1840s and the Noah Biggs House (814 Church Street), whose earliest sections were built c.1860 (Black, p.5). Surviving physical evidence of the mid-nineteenth century portion of the Futrell House include several Greek Revival mantels, one of which has a double-curved opening and frieze, and some original hardware. The Claude Kitchin House (1723 Main Street), located in the Clarksville section, is thought to have been constructed in the 1840s, although it has been overbuilt and remodeled in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and now appears as a Neoclassical Revival style house. Evidence of an early construction date includes unusual carved eave brackets, molded surrounds with flat corner blocks, and a paved, single-shoulder rear chimney. Interior finish includes richly molded door and window surrounds with square molded corner blocks, a beaded tongue-and-groove ceiling with intersecting molded beams and heavy crown molding, and a number of four-panel doors. The c.1860 Noah Biggs House (814 Church Street) also retains several Greek Revival mantels, a rear double-leaf door in a molded surround with corner blocks, and cast-iron lift hinges on some of the doors. This house, remodeled in c.1888, received additional refinements in the early twentieth century.
One of several retardataire Greek Revival houses erected in Scotland Neck in the late 1870s, the c.1878 A.B. Hill House (1728 Main Street) also illustrates the continuing use of traditional residential building forms. The two-story, single-pile frame house features a center-hall plan with an elongated one-story rear ell and a low hipped roof. A one-story porch supported by chamfered posts on chamfered pedestals spans the symmetrical three-bay facade. The entrance consists of double-leaf, four-panel doors enframed by a transom and side lights above wooden panels.
The c.1879 W.O. McDowell House (904 Church Street) also displays a traditional house form with transitional Greek Revival/Italianate finish details. The main block of the house features a three-bay facade and a center-hall, single-pile plan. A one-story, full-facade, hip-roofed porch is supported by slightly tapered, square paneled posts. The entrance consists of a broad door with molded tabernacle panels enframed by sidelights and a deep transom. The interior includes a graceful curving open-string staircase with molded handrail and slender turned balusters anchored by a bold turned newel post. Paired windows and molded four-panel doors are set in post-and-lintel surrounds with mitered, beveled backhands. Mantels exhibit the late Greek Revival post-and-lintel form with simple molded shelf.
The second style to influence Halifax County's architecture in the mid-nineteenth century was the Italianate, a style which signaled a new appreciation of the picturesque. Popularized Italianate elements include semicircular-arched openings, paired windows with emphasized surrounds, chamfered porch posts, and heavy cornice brackets. The Italianate style was one of several modes, sometimes referred to as "Picturesque" or "Romantic," labels that may be applied to the architectural mainstream between 1860 and 1900. These modes, including the Gothic Revival, Second Empire, Queen Anne, and some miscellaneous revival styles, combined fancy or even lavish ornamentation with new asymmetrical house forms. Design books of Ranlett, Andrew J. Downing, Calvert Vaux, and others showed a great variety of ways to shun the box-like house — one with a rectangular floor plan and simple gable-roof form — in favor of one containing towers, turrets, dormers, bays, intersecting gables, mansard roofs, and other devices. The balloon frame, invented in the 1830s, but still considered a novel building method in the 1860s, enabled complex house shapes to be built easily. The gabled-ell house in which the plan resembles a sideways "T" with an asymmetrical central hall, was a basic way to avoid the rectangular box and was adopted into the local vernacular (Taves, pp.31-32). Although fully developed examples of the Italianate style do not exist in Scotland Neck, several elements appear on a few of the dwellings.
The profusion of decorative millwork on the exterior of the large T-plan frame N.B. Josey House (1104 Church Street) makes it the finest surviving local example of a combination of the Italianate and Queen Anne styles. Capping the house is a patterned, polychrome slate roof with intersecting gables. Each of the gables has an elaborate ornament with turned and sawn elements, including a spindle sunburst. The graceful, one-story porch is embellished with turned posts and balusters, a spindle frieze, fancy brackets, and jigsawn pieces below the frieze. A variety of styles can be found on the interior finish, including the still-serviceable Greek Revival and Italianate modes for several mantels.
The period from 1880 to 1915 brought about the perfection of mass production of wooden building materials. Technological advances made the manufacture of all kinds of decorative trim much easier and more economical, allowing factories to turn out balusters, moldings, mantels, and other elements in large quantities. Distribution systems also improved, enabling local contractors to offer a wide range of decorative detail available to them through wholesale catalogs. Turned elements in particular rose in popularity, and late nineteenth-century houses often displayed turned balusters, newels, rosettes, porch posts, and finials. Spindles were incorporated into porch brackets. Tongue-and-groove sheathing, another new mass-produced material, became a standard interior finish, particularly for wainscots and ceilings (Taves, pp.50-51).
One of the more flamboyant houses in town, the 1889 Hoffman-Bowers-Josey-Riddick House (NR 1988) (1103 Church Street) is a splendid elaborately detailed eclectic house and is the town's only surviving building exhibiting features distinctive to the Stick style of architecture. The rectangular two-and-one-half-story frame dwelling features a complex polychromed, slate, gable roof and a three-story tower. Gable ornaments, collar-ties, and finials can be found in the numerous gables. All cornices are handsomely bracketed. The first floor contains a front porch with sawn balustrade and restrained square-in-section posts with paneled pedestals supporting a bracketed eave and cut-out patterned frieze. Interior finish includes a straight-run stair in the central hall with a turned spindle balustrade and a heavy Eastlake newel post with various applied and incised ornaments. A spindle screen divides the front and back hall. Four-panel doors and windows have heavily raised Eastlake surround with chamfered edges and lambs-tongue motifs, while roundels mark the surrounds at baseboard, chair rail and lintel levels (Taves, NR nomination).
The 1889 remodeling of the Noah Biggs House at 814 Church Street demonstrates the profuse use of applied ornamentation during the latter part of the nineteenth century. The entablature of the one-story porch is embellished with dentiled panels, small curvilinear brackets, and pendant brackets which extend downward to the turned posts linked by a turned balustrade. Other decorative millwork on the porch includes a spindle frieze whose running, scalloped bottom strip forms brackets at the sides of the posts and has pendants at the center of each section. A similar porch frieze can be found on the Gilliam-Pritchard-Leggett House at 1508 Main Street, overbuilt and remodeled in 1900, and the Stem-Lewis House (1107 Church Street), built in 1900, two doors north of the Hoffman-Bowers-Josey-Riddick House (Black, p.19).
The ready availability of decorative millwork led to its appearance on some of the town's more modest dwellings as well. A substantially intact example of an 1890s Queen Anne cottage can be found in the c.1893 Edwards-Hancock-Moore House located at 1501 Main Street. Decorative elements include gable-end diamond-pattern wood shingles, sawn brackets in the eaves, and a full-facade porch with chamfered posts with open brackets filled by modified spindle sunbursts, eaves brackets, and a solid frieze with applied sawn ornament.
Scotland Neck's most sophisticated remaining example of the Queen Anne style is the c.1895 Brinkley-Kitchin House (1735 Main Street) at the north end of Main Street. It exhibits the characteristic irregular configuration, the combination of textures, and the excess of decorative accents, epitomizing the exuberance of the Gilded Age evident in its flamboyant architecture (Black, p.21). Decorative elements and elaborate finishes include corner brackets with pendants, a sunburst stick gable ornament, spindle friezes and balusters on the porch, and diamond-butt wood shingles and cut-out vergeboard and ornaments in the gables.
The influence of the Queen Anne style on residential design persisted in Scotland Neck well into the new century. Four large houses, apparently built between 1900 and 1905, survive in the first two blocks east of Main Street. In the 900 block of Roanoke Street are two houses evidently built on speculation by Noah Biggs, the Biggs-Hopkins House (900 Roanoke Street) and the Biggs-Edwards-Hancock House (906 Roanoke Street) and exhibiting decorative features and architectural forms characteristic of the style. Facing them is another example, the Sam Dunn House (905 Roanoke Street), while just around the corner on Tenth Street is the John Gray House (207 E. 10th Street). Both have the polygonal bays and wings, the fanciful porch treatments, and the applied ornament which help to define the style (Black, p.23).
Nationally, the ornate novelty of the Queen Anne and other Victorian-era styles eventually fell into disfavor. At about the turn of the century, the Colonial Revival was becoming one of the most popular modes, corresponding to a rising interest in early America's history. In theory, the style was based on Georgian and early Federal precedents but more often it appeared in simplified, interpreted, or stylized versions. Colonial Revival details replaced Victorian-era ones in millwork catalogs, and gradually trickled into rural regions.
One example of an accomplished Colonial Revival house apparently under construction during 1911 is the (former) Baptist parsonage at 1308 Church Street. The c.1919 Kitchin-Hill House at 1718 Main Street, one of four notable brick masonry houses constructed in Scotland Neck between 1910 and 1920, owes its stylistic accents to the Colonial Revival style. The ample, two-story, double-pile house is capped by a low-hipped roof with exposed rafters. The focus of a symmetrical three-bay facade is a central door with beveled-glass panes and sidelights. A gable-front entrance portico with a tin roof is supported by full-height brick piers.
By the end of the first decade of the twentieth century, two magnificent and academically correct examples of the Neoclassical Revival style in residential construction had been completed. One, the imposing Claude Kitchin House at 1723 Main Street, was the result of an overbuilding and remodeling of a c.1840s house. Both Kitchin's redone residence and Gerson Hoffman's elegant 1910 house at 1403 Main Street feature the monumental portico which epitomized the style and symbolized the prosperity of those for whom such houses were built (Black, p.24).
The second decade of the twentieth century brought growth and prosperity to Scotland Neck. Local contractors erected a broad range of houses during this period from modest frame worker houses to near mansions of solid masonry construction, from familiar vernacular types to relatively high-style Craftsman Bungalows, Classical and Colonial Revival style residences. Several owners turned to one or more mail-order companies that shipped disassembled houses by rail. L.B. Suiter chose two houses from the 1918-19 Aladdin Homes catalogue, The Marsden at 1007 Roanoke Street, a charming shingled Craftsman Bungalow, and The Villa, a larger stuccoed house at 1732 Main Street in the Italian Renaissance Revival style, to build on speculation and as his own residence (Black, p.28).
By the 1920s, Scotland Neck's housing industry was clearly in the mainstream of popular architectural styles, particularly the Craftsman and Colonial Revival styles. Rectangular brick-veneered American Foursquares with influences from both styles rose in several locations. Bungalows of various sizes and degrees of sophistication were the choice of many local residents, with mail-order houses remaining a part of the picture.
Construction slowed in Scotland Neck during the Depression years of the 1930s. In the years since World War II, infill and replacement construction in the established residential neighborhoods followed typical patterns, with characteristic modest Cape Cods, larger Colonial Revival houses, Minimal Traditional, and brick Ranch houses dominating. Very little residential construction has taken place in the Scotland Neck Historic District since the early 1950s.
Several brick buildings along Main Street, dating from the early 1880s, include the D. Edmondson Building (1008 Main Street) and the (first) R.C. Josey Building (1010 Main Street), which received a new facade in the early twentieth century. The Neoclassical Revival-style Edmondson Building, located at 1008 Main Street, retains the original distinctive wooden cornice embellished with two sizes of eaves brackets in alternating pairs. Below this cornice, the three-bay facade is veneered with textured stucco. Still visible are the simple curving hoods above the trio of segmental-arched, second-floor windows. The early construction date of the (first) R.C. Josey Building is evident on the visible portions of the side and rear elevations, where the flat-arched window openings have been bricked up and the walls have been stuccoed. The most striking feature of the attractive three-bay, Italianate-influenced, c.1904 facade, is the red brick used to form shouldered and footed surrounds and a continuous sill for the second-floor windows. Brick pilasters, quoined at the first floor, bracket the building, rising to a stepped parapet, which is accented at the top by two courses of red brick. Sheet metal cornices flank the projecting central section of the parapet, which has a brick panel outlined in red.
A number of important buildings were erected or remodeled in the central business district during the first decade of the twentieth century. The E.T. Whitehead Drugstore (1004 Main Street), built in 1901, features ornamental adornments in the upper portion of the parapet facade, which is framed by brick pilasters. Topping the arrangement is a simple sheet metal cornice above a row of dentils. A decorative frieze with alternating small panels and bosses extends across the facade over a course of two sizes of corbelled stops. A narrow string course links the three window bays, which have one-over-one windows in decorative segmental-arch openings.
In 1903, Noah Biggs raised his building (1000 Main Street) on the northwest corner of Main and Tenth streets to three stories, remodeling its facade to its present handsome Neoclassical Revival appearance. Topping the three-bay facade is an elaborate sheet metal cornice adorned with dentils, brackets, and corner consoles. To each side of the central name panel are garlands bracketing medallions carrying the date, 1903. Below the cornice is a trio of large arcaded windows with torch-like keystones at the center of rounded hoods. Brick quoins and pilasters mark the corners of the facade and separate the window bays.
The elaborate brickwork and elegant metal parapet monogram sign which embellish the upper portion of the facade of the two-story 1904 (second) R.C. Josey Building (1014 Main Street) make it one of the most striking buildings in Scotland Neck's business district. A simple metal cornice tops the tan brick, parapet facade: at its center is a semicircular projection with a keystone finial, having the numbers 904 (a "1" is missing) and the name "R.C. Josey Bldg." embossed. Intricately-designed brick and terra cotta ornament, including dentils, egg-and-dart, and recessed and raised panels, extends across the upper portion of the facade, with two identical sections flanking an oculus window with four red terra cotta keystones. Below this brickwork are four large arcaded windows framed in red brick surrounds with red terra cotta keystones in tan labelmolds. Brick pilasters with terra cotta capitals separate the window bays.
Possibly the most unusual building constructed in Scotland Neck's business district during this period is the two-story rusticated concrete-block structure at 114 East Tenth Street for Dr. Joseph Wimberly. The two-story building is faced with rock-faced blocks. Ashlar-finish concrete forms continuous window sills and string courses on the three-bay facade and other elevations, while a foliate-pattern concrete course constitutes the lintels and additional string courses. A simple sheet metal cornice is attached above the parapet facade's second-floor windows.
In 1909, J.W. Madry completed a substantial two-story brick building to house his department store (928 Main Street), which continued in operation at this location for more than sixty years. The upper portion of the stepped parapet facade is divided into three sections, each having horizontal recessed panels. Below these panels are windows set in segmental-arch openings, two in each section, separated by brick pilasters. Brick corbelling marks the top of each window bay.
The following year, 1912, saw the construction of a handsome Neoclassical Revival, pressed brick building for the local telephone exchange. Located at 110 East Tenth Street, the building exhibits a sheet metal cornice with modillions above a recessed brick panel. Below the panel can be found a trio of windows with a continuous limestone lintel and a narrower sill which extends across the facade as a string course. Two windows to the left of the round arched entrance bay also have limestone sills and lintels. This was the first local building constructed for the sole use as a telephone exchange.
On the southeast corner of the intersection of Main and Tenth streets can be found an impressive Neoclassical Revival building, which was the new home of the Scotland Neck Bank (southeast corner Main and 10th streets). The most striking element of the two-story, pressed brick building is the northwest-facing corner elevation which exhibits an elegant classical frontispiece consisting of a limestone Tuscan order entrance below a balcony which projects in front of a large window with arched architrave surround. The building, originally divided into three sections, housed a printing plant in the south portion, professional offices in the north section, while the remainder was occupied by the bank. Round-arched first-floor openings of the bank section display radiating decorative brick work. A sheet metal classical cornice with consoles and dentils tops openings on the west and north elevations.
Several buildings in the Scotland Neck Historic District were dedicated to the sale, servicing, and repairing of automobiles, which were becoming a familiar part of the local scene in the second decade of the twentieth century. A two-story brick building was constructed in 1915 at 919 Main Street to serve as an automobile sales and service building. The four-bay building features a parapet facade with four paired six-over-nine sash windows with brick sills and limestone lintels. Limestone corner blocks decorate recessed brick panels located above the window openings. Several early service stations are also located along Main Street.
A majority of the buildings in the commercial district can be classified as early twentieth century Commercial style. The Commercial style developed in the early 1900s as a reaction to the ornate styles of the late nineteenth century. It was a popular style because of its adaptability to a variety of building types, especially the new one-story, flat-roofed commercial building. The character of the early twentieth century Commercial style structures is determined by the use of patterned masonry wall surfaces, shaped parapets at the roofline, and large rectangular windows arranged in groups. Many of the buildings feature panels with patterned brick or inset accents of tile, concrete, limestone, or terra cotta. The building at 916-918 Main Street is a good example of a two-story early twentieth century Commercial style. Built in 1906, the building expanded to two stories c.1913. It features a stepped parapet with recessed panels and segmentally-arched windows at the second level. The 1915 automobile sales and service building at 919 Main Street, also a two-story example, features decorative limestone lintels and recessed brick panels with limestone corner blocks.
One of the most ambitious building projects of the second decade of the twentieth century was the 1917-18 construction of a new edifice for the Scotland Neck Baptist Church (southeast corner Church and W. 11th streets). The Neoclassical Revival style, so popular in ecclesiastical design at this time, is represented in this handsome building with its monumental porticoes on two elevations. The building replaced an 1882 frame Gothic Revival structure, built on the northeast corner of Church and Tenth streets. The current building, known as First Baptist Church, is a substantial brick structure topped by a green ceramic pantile roof at the center of which is an octagonal tiled dome surmounted by an octagonal lantern. Pedimented Ionic porticoes project from the Church and Eleventh Street elevations, in front of three-bay recesses having round-arched, stained-glass windows. Encircling the building is a deep sheet metal entablature and cornice adorned with dentils. Characteristic Neoclassical Revival decorative trim is made of a variety of materials, including cast concrete, metal, terra cotta, and limestone. A large two-story with basement brick wing projects from the east elevation. A brick arcade leads from this part of the building to a two-story Colonial Revival style brick educational building erected in 1963.
Trinity Episcopal Church, located at the northeast corner of Main and Thirteenth streets, was constructed after a 1924 fire destroyed an earlier 1886 church. It is a well-crafted example of 1920s small-town Tudor Revival ecclesiastical architecture. The handsome brick edifice exhibits the characteristic gable-front main block with gabled wings and a three-stage corner entrance and bell tower. A gabled chancel projects from the rear of the main block. North of the church building is a two-story brick parish house, erected in 1955, which continues, in a more restrained fashion, the Gothic Revival motif.
In the late 1920s, a small brick building was built for the Catholic community at 1715 Main Street. St. Anne's Catholic Church expresses the influence of the Gothic style in the triangle-topped window openings on the three-bay facade and four-bay side elevations. The exterior is sheathed with brickwork in a running bond with weeping mortar. A pyramidal-roofed square cupola surmounts the front-gable roof.
A fifth church at 814 Roanoke Street is located within the Scotland Neck Historic District at the southwest corner of Ninth and Roanoke streets. Erected for the Scotland Neck Pentecostal Holiness congregation in 1948, the simple brick Gothic-style church features a corner crenellated entrance tower and pointed arched windows.
Black, Allison Harris. The Historic Architectural Resources of Scotland Neck, North Carolina. An unpublished manuscript. Department of Cultural Resources, Divisions of Archives and History, December 1991.
Grill, C. Franklin. A History of Scotland Neck. An unpublished manuscript dtd. 1972. Copy in North Carolina Collection. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Grill, C. Franklin. History of Scotland Neck United Methodist Church. An unpublished manuscript. Scotland Neck Memorial Library.
Halifax County Deed Books, Office of Register of Deeds, Halifax County Courthouse.
One Hundredth Anniversary and Dedication of Educational Building. Scotland Neck: First Baptist Church, 1964.
Sanborn Map Company, New York, New York. Scotland Neck, North Carolina map series, 1896, 1901, 1908, 1913, 1923, and 1930.
Survey and Planning Branch files on Scotland Neck, North Carolina Division of Archives and History.
Taves, Henry V. The Rural Architectural Heritage of Halifax County, North Carolina. An unpublished manuscript. Department of Cultural Resources, Division of Archives and History, March 1989.
Taves, Lauren-Brook. National Register Nomination for the Hoffman-Bowers-Josey-Riddick House (1988). Department of Cultural Resources, Division of Archives and History.
† Beth Keane, Preservation Consultant, Retrospective, Scotland Neck Historic District, Halifax County, NC, nomination document, 2002, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.