The Jackson Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [‡]
The Jackson Historic District is locally significant for listing in the National Register in the area of commerce and architecture. Jackson's intact early- to mid-twentieth century brick commercial buildings reflect the town's thriving business district in the first half of the twentieth century. The needs of a growing population in Jackson were met with a mix of businesses, shops, industry, and banking institutions. 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 1858 Northampton County Courthouse (National Register, 100 West Jefferson Street), situated in the center of the Jackson Historic District, is one of the state's finest antebellum Greek Revival style courthouses. The 1904 Church of the Saviour (NR; corner of North Church Street and West Calhoun Street) is a simple example in stone of the Gothic Revival style favored by Episcopalians. The period of significance for the Jackson Historic District begins in c.1810, the date of the oldest extant building in Jackson and extends to 1953, after which no significant development occurred within the district. The post-1953 period has been evaluated, and it does not possess exceptional significance, therefore, the fifty-year cut-off date is appropriate.
Jackson is at the center of a Northampton County that supported a plantation society during the first half of the nineteenth century. The community known as Potecase Bridge became Northampton Courthouse when the county was formed in 1741. Although the name changed to Smithville in 1814, the post office remained Northampton Courthouse. In 1826, the town incorporated and was renamed Jackson in honor of Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the United States. The town is centered upon the courthouse square located on Jefferson Street. The courthouse square contains the 1858 Northampton County Courthouse rendered in the Greek Revival style, in addition to the 1831 brick clerk's office, a small 1900 Clerk of Courts and Register of Deeds office; a 1936 (former) Agricultural Extension Building; and a 1990 (former) Health Building.
Many prominent families built their houses to face the courthouse square. One of these houses, the Amis-Bragg House at 203 Thomas Bragg Street, was built in c.1840 by Thomas Bragg Sr., a prominent North Carolina builder/architect who began his career in Warrenton and moved to Jackson after 1825. Bragg's son, Thomas Bragg Jr., purchased the house in 1843. A practicing Jackson attorney, Bragg later became a prominent politician and governor of North Carolina (1855-1859) and United States Senator (1859-1861).
Jackson prospered during the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries as represented by the standing buildings of the town. The commercial district of the town was rebuilt during this era, with one- and two-story brick store structures. Most of the residences of the town also date to this era, or were substantially remodeled during these years. The county had a stable economy from 1880 to 1940 that was predominantly based on the agricultural production of peanuts, corn, cotton, and potato crops and livestock. Jackson's historic industrial buildings reflect this agricultural economy as exemplified in the Farmer's Cotton Gin complex. The types of businesses that prospered in Jackson during the first half of the twentieth century also illustrated this agricultural base — general stores, banks, food stores, hardware stores, and feed stores.
Jackson's growth continued throughout the first half of the twentieth century. The town's residential district expanded primarily north of the business sector. Several of the town's older houses were built on large pieces of land along North Church Street. As the land was divided up, lots began to fill with Queen Anne style houses and traditional two-story Triple A I-houses, built by the town's merchants and professional businessmen. Later subdivision resulted in a striking assemblage of popular twentieth century styles and house types, including Colonial Revival, Bungalow, Cape Cod, and Minimal Traditional, intermixed with the older styles. Today, Jackson'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, government, and industry in Northampton County for over two centuries.
Located in the northern Coastal Plain along the Virginia border, Northampton County was formed in 1741 from a division of Bertie County after settlers migrated to this part of the Albemarle precinct in the early eighteenth century. The county took its name from George, Earl of Northampton, a British nobleman and the brother of the Earl of Wilmington. The county seat was established in roughly the center of the county and the community known as Potecase Bridge became Northampton Courthouse when the county was formed. After the courthouse square was laid off and a courthouse built in 1742, the village grew around the square. The first known published description of the village appeared in a June 4, 1798, advertisement in the North Carolina Journal (Halifax) that stated: "For Lease — Land and plantation at Northampton Courthouse...(with) a gristmill...immediately at the courthouse there is a house which is now used as a tavern and is from its location well calculated for that purpose. And — a storehouse near it which is well situated for a country store."
Following the formation of the county in 1741, the population increased rapidly and by the American Revolution, most of the county had been patented. Stagecoach routes and ferry points developed as links to communities in Virginia and to North Carolina river towns such as Halifax, Scotland Neck, and Murfreesboro. The Meherrin River Road, extending from Margarettsville to Severn and roughly following present day S.R. 1333, was one of the routes along which early farms and plantations were established. Throughout the county, the junctions of stagecoach routes and ferry terminals soon developed as small market communities with taverns, stores, gristmills, and sawmills (Mattson, Northampton County Survey Findings).
The first federal post office in the county was established in Northampton Courthouse in 1804. The name of the village was changed to Smithville around 1814. The post office remained Northampton Courthouse until 1826 when the town was incorporated and named for Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the United States (Northampton County Bicentennial Committee 1976, pp.5, 59).
From the mid-eighteenth century, horses were a primary source of income and sport in Northampton County. Soon after Jeptha Atherton settled at the courthouse in 1762, he acquired the imported stallion, Janus, one of the great progenitors of the American turf. The significant characteristic of the early American racehorses was their ability to run quarter-mile races. Although there were a few quarter-mile straightaway courses in Northampton, there was little evidence of organized racing in the county before 1800. With the arrival of the famous racehorse, Sir Archie, at the stables of William Amis at Mowfield plantation, interest in horses increased to a fever pitch in the county. Sir Archie's progeny made his name famous throughout the racing world. John White, one of the Jackson's early landowners, opened a racecourse at Silver Hill, a plantation adjoining the town on the south. By 1833, the year of Sir Archie's death, the flourishing Jackson Jockey Club was holding its meets at Silver Hill (Northampton County Bicentennial Committee 1976, p.19).
As the Roanoke Valley plantation culture blossomed in the antebellum era, Jackson and the surrounding county thrived. Many prominent families built their houses facing the courthouse green. The Peebles family occupied a house north of the courthouse, facing the courthouse green (100 West Calhoun Street). Thought to have been built by Jeptha Atherton, the house was bought by Robert Peebles in the late 1700s. The house was enlarged in the late 1800s with the addition of four rooms and upper and lower bays. Captain Robert Peebles was one of the first three Northamptonians to receive commissions at the outbreak of the Revolutionary War. He was also one of Northampton County's representatives at the Halifax Congress in August of 1776. Another one of the surviving houses north of the courthouse was built by Thomas Bragg Sr. in c.1840 (203 Thomas Bragg Street). The house was purchased by Bragg's son, Thomas Bragg Jr. in 1843. Bragg Jr. served as Governor of North Carolina from 1855 to 1859 and was a United States Senator from 1859 to 1861 (Northampton County Bicentennial Committee 1976, pp.60-61).
In 1831, Captain Abraham Spencer of Oxford constructed a separate fireproof building on the courthouse square to house the offices of the clerk of court and register of deeds. Twenty-six years later, in 1857, H.K. Burgwyn, Samuel Calvert, William Barrow, Thomas J. Person, M.W. Ransom, David A. Barnes, and Dr. Winfield S. Copeland were appointed commissioners to contract for the erection of a suitable courthouse. By March Court, 1858, the commissioners, with Samuel Calvert as Superintendent of Public Buildings, were given permission to dispose of the old courthouse and procure a suitable place for holding the court for the County of Northampton in the town of Jackson. Henry King Burgwyn has been credited as the architect for the courthouse. Burgwyn was born in 1813 in Virginia and studied engineering at the United States Military Academy at West Point for three years. By June, 1859, the court minutes indicate that the building was nearing completion, for the commissioners were authorized to "procure a suitable carpet for the Court Room, & such furniture as in their Judgment, as the convenience and comfort of the public may require." The resulting temple-form courthouse is one of the state's finest antebellum Greek Revival temples of justice with the courtroom set high on a raised basement and dignified by an Ionic portico (Cockshutt, Northampton County Courthouse Square National Register nomination, Sec. 8, p.5).
Religion has played an important role in Jackson since the mid-nineteenth century. Most early residents of Northampton County were members of Episcopal, Methodist, or Baptist congregations. When Samuel Calvert (1792-1881) of Southampton County, Virginia, moved to Jackson in 1823, he bought many acres of land in and around Jackson. He donated plots of land in the village to the Baptist, the Methodist, and the Episcopal congregations upon which to build their churches (Northampton County Bicentennial Committee 1976, p.77). The Methodists built their first frame church in 1845 just northwest of the courthouse, the Episcopal congregation built a frame church on the northwest corner of West Calhoun and North Church streets in 1851, and the Baptists built a frame church along North Church Street in c.1880. Although the early frame churches have since been replaced or greatly altered, they each maintain an active congregation.
In addition to churches, schools were the principal community institutions within this agrarian society. Public schools were non-existent until 1839 when small allotments for teachers' salaries were made to the counties. Because no funds were provided for buildings and maintenance, facilities were rudimentary. Consequently, most early schools in Northampton County were small private operations, and most were located in Jackson. Tilbert Wrenn, a native of Surrey County, Virginia, established the Wrenn Military Academy, the second military school in the state, in 1795. Wrenn operated the academy for fifteen years. Also located in Jackson were the Northampton Female Seminary, begun in 1833 and the Peele Academy for boys and girls, which operated from 1845 to 1855. The Episcopal Female Academy was located on the grounds of the Church of the Saviour in Jackson, and in 1849, a girl's school, St. Catherine's Hall (corner of W. Calhoun Street and Thomas Bragg Street), was opened in the Jackson home of Pattie and Anna Copeland (Northampton County Bicentennial Committee 1976, pp.15-16, 78).
The rail construction campaigns of the 1830s held great promise for economic expansion in Northampton County. The goal of these early railroads was to establish reliable and rapid routes to northern urban markets. The lines could be directed either to the ports of Wilmington and Norfolk or to the rail transfer center of Richmond. The first railroads arrived in Northampton County in 1833 when the Petersburg Railroad opened a line from Petersburg, Virginia, to Blakely (incorporated in 1838 as Garysburg), North Carolina, along the northern bank of the Roanoke River. It became part of the system known as the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad in 1898. Jackson did not get a railroad connection until 1894 with the opening of the Northampton and Hertford Railroad Company. The Northampton and Hertford railroad ran for forty years, until it was abandoned in 1934 (Northampton County Bicentennial Committee, 1976, pp.25-26).
The Civil War caused considerable upheaval in Northampton County as in the rest of the state. Thomas Bragg Jr. had left Jackson to serve as the state's governor during the crucial years preceding the outbreak of the war. He was then called on to serve in Jefferson Davis' cabinet as Attorney General of the Confederacy during the early organizational period. Word of North Carolina's secession reached the county just as the crops of 1861 were coming up. As many as 1,000 young Northampton men joined the Confederate Army. (Northampton County Bicentennial Committee, 1976, p.38).
Northampton County's geographical location and fertile agricultural resources provided it with a unique opportunity to provide strategic support to the Confederate army. The rich farmlands provided much needed food and clothing articles to support the troops. Railroads crossing the county provided an essential link in the supply line from the Wilmington port to General Lee in Virginia. This crucial railroad link resulted in the invasion of the county by Union troops in July, 1863, intending to destroy the railroad bridge over the Roanoke River to Weldon. The ensuing battle at Boon's Mill was a Confederate victory as Union plans to demolish the supply line were thwarted. Northampton County was spared any further occupation until the closing weeks of the war when in the spring of 1865, an army of 8,000 Union troops moved into the Seaboard area and dug up embankments on the railroad. As the train approached, the danger was discovered and the train with 2000 Confederate troops backed down (Northampton County Bicentennial Committee 1976, p.38).
The end of the Civil War brought new opportunities for the African American population of Northampton County. On March 15, 1870, Samuel Calvert donated one acre of land for the "sole and exclusive purpose of a school for freedmen and no other." Additional private schools for white students in Jackson near the end of the nineteenth century included the Male Academy of Jackson opened by the Episcopalians in 1884 and the formation of the Jackson Female Academy in 1896 (Footprints in Northampton, p.16).
With school reform under Governor Charles Aycock at the turn of the twentieth century, a basic system of public schools began to appear as public school districts were established. In Northampton County, these districts were first established along the rail lines. High schools were established at Severn, Woodland, Jackson, Rich Square, Seaboard, Conway and Gaston. Jackson Elementary School (320 Bagley Drive) was built in 1925, followed by Jackson High School in 1928. When Jackson High School closed in 1964, students from six small county high schools were transferred to Northampton County High School (Mattson, Northampton County Survey Findings).
The courthouse square underwent significant changes in the early twentieth century. A new Clerk of Courts and Register of Deeds Office was built in 1900. The one-story brick building has a fireproof vault with a stone floor and metal ceiling. In 1936, a one-story brick Agricultural Extension building, funded by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) was added to the complex. The Northampton County Courthouse (100 West Jefferson Street) was enlarged and remodeled in 1938. A two-story wing was added to the back of the original building, providing more office space. The work was also funded by the WPA with A. Mitchell Wooten of Kinston, the designing architect (Cockshutt, Courthouse Square National Register nomination Sec. 7, p.2 and Sec 8, p.1). In addition, a new jail was constructed across the street from the courthouse in 1931.
Jackson's development in the years since World War II has been typical of many of North Carolina's small towns. Many of the buildings in the commercial district received new aluminum and glass shopfronts. Modern gasoline and service stations were built at several locations within the historic district. Several new banks and a new restaurant were constructed near the western edges of town. 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 relative 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.
Jackson's commercial district historically developed along Jefferson Street (formerly Main Street). In addition to the hotel owned by Jeptha Atherton located diagonally across the from the courthouse green, the Hotel Burgwyn was another prominent nineteenth century building in Jackson. Its gracious hospitality and reputation for excellent food and elegant balls made it a mecca for travelers. Livery stables and general merchandise stores served the town's citizens and farmers from the surrounding area. Several mills, including a gristmill and a cotton mill, reflected the dependent nature of the local economy on agriculture. Jackson Savings Institute, the first bank in Northampton County was incorporated in 1850, to serve the thriving community. The first telephone service came to Northampton County in 1896 when a telephone line from Jackson to Rich Square was erected; and in 1909, the Carolina Telephone Company came into the county and installed the first switchboard in Jackson in a private home. Many years later, the central office was moved to the second floor of the Bank of Northampton building (Northampton County Bicentennial Committee 1976, p.26).
The types of businesses that prospered in Jackson during the first half of the twentieth century exemplify the agricultural base of the town and the county — general stores, banks, food stores that stocked items not grown locally, hardware stores, and feed stores. Several long-time family businesses are still operating in Jackson including Kennedy's Five Cents to Five Dollars Store (115 West Jefferson Street). Established in 1925, the business has occupied the same location and has been run by the same family since it first opened. The White Star grocery store (109 W. Jefferson Street) began business in 1927 as Stedman's Store. The same family has owned it for three generations. The building occupied by the Jackson Hardware Store (119 W. Jefferson Street) was first occupied by a Chevrolet dealership in the 1920s. Soon afterwards it became a hardware store and has operated as one up to the present. Additional early- to mid-twentieth century businesses included the G.H. Tyler Mercantile Store, later known as Boden's Department Store (121 W. Jefferson Street); Boone Grocery Store (123 W. Jefferson Street); the Britton Store (125 W. Jefferson Street), later known as Leggett's Department Store; and the S.B. Rose Store (131 W. Jefferson Street). The Burgwyn Hotel was destroyed in a 1930 fire. It was quickly replaced with several one- and two-story brick commercial buildings, including the Lewis Drug Store (114 W. Jefferson Street), built on the corner of West Jefferson and Thomas Bragg streets (Northampton County deeds).
The post World War II era has witnessed a decline in population in Northampton County. After peaking at 28,432 in 1950, the population today stands around 20,000. The county continues to be predominantly agricultural, leading the state and the country in peanut production. Cotton continues to be a mainstay crop, as do soybeans, corn, wheat, and tobacco. Jackson's historic industrial buildings reflect this agricultural economy as exemplified in the c.1950 Farmer's Cotton Gin complex (117 Picard Street). Agricultural fields encircle the town of Jackson, providing a viewscape that has not changed significantly in the preceding three centuries. Activity in the town continues to revolve around the courthouse, while the town's two-block commercial district provides necessities for the local population. Jackson is presently experiencing a revitalization that includes the publishing of a walking tour brochure of the town and the restoration and rehabilitation of the town's commercial buildings.
Although the town of Jackson was founded as the county seat of Northampton County in 1741, little architectural evidence remains from the eighteenth century. The majority of houses are frame or brick one- and two-story dwellings constructed c.1825 through 1950. Some of Jackson's oldest surviving houses are located on the streets adjacent to the courthouse square. The majority of the extant nineteenth and early-twentieth century houses in Jackson tend to be traditional regional house types including I-houses and regional interpretations of late-nineteenth century picturesque styles. In addition, the town includes some excellent examples of late-nineteenth century remodeling of early dwellings. Well-preserved early-twentieth century frame Bungalows and Colonial Revival style houses are also in the Jackson Historic District. Mid-twentieth century infill housing includes a small number of Minimal Traditional and Ranch houses.
Jackson's earliest surviving houses fall into the category of dwellings found throughout the region characterized by mortise-and-tenon construction with weatherboard cladding, gable-end roofs, and exterior-end chimneys. Built about 1810 near the northern edge of town, the (former) rectory of the Church of the Saviour (801 N. Church Street) is one of the earliest houses in the Jackson Historic District. The frame two-story, single-pile, five-bay dwelling includes brick exterior-end chimneys and a two-story rear ell. The Federal style house features a pedimented entry with fluted pilasters, six-over-six windows, and cornice returns. Twentieth century alterations include an enclosed side porch off the rear two-story ell, the addition of a modern open porch on the south-side gable end, and recently installed vinyl siding. The original Federal porch has been removed.
A few houses built during the middle decades of the nineteenth century survive in Jackson. 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.
When the Faison House (104 East Calhoun Street) was built c. 1840 near the courthouse on Macon Street (currently Calhoun Street), it was surrounded by acres of farmland. The two-story, single-pile dwelling with one- and two-story rear ells has a side-gable roof and exterior-end chimneys (only one of which is original). The windows retain their molded surrounds and some of the original six-over-nine and nine-over-nine light windows remain. The Greek Revival-style entrance is embellished with bold, fluted surrounds, corner blocks, transom and sidelights. The original central-bay, hipped-roof porch has been replaced with a shed roof porch with square posts.
The c. 1840 Amis-Bragg House (203 Thomas Bragg Street) is an impressive and intact Greek Revival-style house displaying the characteristic hip-roofed, five-bay, double-pile form with a two-story rear ell and one-story attached kitchen. Exterior Greek Revival-style embellishments include corner pilasters, a molded cornice frieze, and the shed roof entry porch supported by box piers. The house has an unusual plan that incorporates two formal staircases, one in the central passage that divides the two parlors in the main block and one in a passage in the ell; the two formal entrances (on the south and east elevations) open into these passages with stairs. The interior retains the original pine floors, high ceilings, doors, locks and keys, and window frames, while the dining room preserves its original mantel with pilasters and frieze. The construction of the house is attributed to Thomas Bragg Sr., a well-known builder-architect, who was practicing in Warrenton and Jackson during that time period.
Adjacent to the Amis-Bragg House and also facing the courthouse are two houses built shortly after the Civil War. W.H. Picard and George Bowers purchased the lot known and recorded in old deeds as the Grove Lot and divided it. Timber for the houses was apparently harvested from large oak trees on the lot. The c.1865 Bowers House (115 Thomas Bragg Street) is a rare example of Gothic Revival domestic architecture in Northampton County. The one-and-one-half-story frame dwelling has a cross-gable roof, a T-shaped plan, and a side addition. A prominent flat-roof, center-bay porch is embellished with knee brackets, a turned post balustrade, and classical columns. The single-leaf doorway is enframed by transom and sidelights. The most notable feature of the house, however, is the pointed-arch window surrounds. The interior of the house retains the original oak floors (Northampton County Bicentennial Committee, 1976, p.59). The property includes a smokehouse that appears contemporary with the house.
The neighboring Picard family constructed a more traditional one-story, L-shaped cottage (113 Thomas Bragg Street). The c.1865 side-gable house with metal roof has a prominent front-gable wing with cornice returns. Picturesque bay windows adorn the front wing and the north gable end, while a kitchen wing extends from the rear of the house. The property also retains a nineteenth century smokehouse with a pyramidal metal roof.
The c. 1870 Samuel Calvert House at 117 East Jefferson Street is very similar in appearance to the Picard House. The Calvert House also has an L-shaped plan with a rear ell and bay windows on the front wing and the west gable end. While the front porch of the Picard residence has been altered, the Calvert House porch retains its original chamfered flat board posts. The Calvert House is further embellished with wood shingles on the bay windows and cutout ornamentation in the central gable. Both houses retain their weatherboard siding and double-hung, wooden sash windows.
The traditional nineteenth century house form of the Picard and Calvert houses, consisting of a one-story, side-gable, single-pile house with a front-gable wing and rear kitchen ell, can be found scattered throughout the Jackson Historic District, with slight variations. A house located at 312 West Calhoun Street is similar in size and shape with the exception that the front wing has a pedimented gable surmounting a semi-hexagonal bay. The Bennett-Maiden House at 207 North Church Street was originally located across from the courthouse and moved to Church Street c.1900 (Northampton County Bicentennial Committee, 1976, p.64). The house has, in addition to a semi-hexagonal front-gable wing, a second south-side gable. Decorative mill work in the gables and a colored-glass window in the principal projecting bay on the front facade complete the design. Although the house type and form is evident in several additional houses along North Church Street and Buxton Street, significant architectural features have been covered or removed by the addition of synthetic siding.
Many of the mid- to late-nineteenth century dwellings in the Jackson Historic District were built as two-story, single-pile, frame I-houses, a popular house type throughout North Carolina. Several of the I-houses have undergone later updatings and embellishments, as fashion dictated. Typically, these houses have three- or five-bay symmetrical facades with center-hall plans and side-gable roofs, with an occasional central cross gable. St. Catherine's Hall (corner of W. Calhoun Street and Thomas Bragg Street) was constructed in 1848 as a simple, frame, two-story I-house with rear one-story ells. Late-nineteenth century alterations include the addition of a front-gable wing, a wraparound porch with a conical-roofed corner, a center gable, and picturesque sawnwork in the gables. A modern sunroom was added to the front facade in the twentieth century. The house retains its weatherboard siding and original nine-over-nine, six-over-nine, and six-over-six light, double-hung, wooden sash windows and simple Greek Revival-style door surround with sidelights and transom. An early outbuilding, possibly a kitchen or slave house, sits behind the main house.
By the late nineteenth century, I-houses were often embellished with decorative millwork as a conservative interpretation of nationally popular picturesque styles. Cutout balustrades, scrolled knee brackets, and decorative gable moldings were commonly applied to the rectangular symmetrical main block or to the porch. By the last decades of the nineteenth century, picturesque elements often became more prominent, and the addition of a center gable above the entrance became a common variation now known as the Triple A I-house.
The c. 1890 Benjamin Gay House at 606 North Church Street is a two-story Triple A I-house which borrowed some decorative details from the Italianate style. The three-bay symmetrical facade features elongated two-over-two sash windows. The central entrance with double-leaf doors featuring round-arched windows is enframed with sidelights and a transom. Carved brackets support the overhanging eaves.
A more typical example of the late-nineteenth century Triple-A I-house can be found at 601 North Church Street. The c.1890 DeLoatche House features some of the picturesque elements that became more popular at the end of the century. The side-gable roof features patterned metal shingles and carved eaves brackets, while decorative sawnwork embellishes the central cross gable. Fluted Tuscan columns support the full-width front porch. The c.1890 Gay-Spivey House at 109 North Church Street is very similar to the DeLoatche House. The two-story Triple-A I house also features gable ornaments, brackets under the eaves, and a three-bay symmetrical facade with a central door with sidelights and transom.
Between the 1890s and World War I, both one- and two-story houses were built as vernacular versions of the popular picturesque Queen Anne style. These house designs remained generally conservative and the asymmetry of the Queen Anne was commonly expressed in either L-shaped or T-shaped plans, cross gable roofs, cut-away corners, and wraparound porches. Decorative millwork was used, as with the I-houses, to embellish gable ends, cornices, and porches, while wood shingles were often found under the gables. A number of informal Queen Anne-style dwellings are in the Jackson Historic District.
The c. 1900 Seldon-Boone House at 308 Atherton Street exemplifies the one-story, turn-of-the-century Queen Anne cottage design. The frame, double-pile dwelling has a gable-on-hip roof, projecting bays, and a wraparound porch with classical posts and balustrade. Tall, corbelled chimney stacks pierce the high hipped roof, and the smaller gables and dormer windows feature arched and Palladian windows.
A modest example of the two-story Queen Anne-style house can be found in the 1904 Judge Ballard S. Gay House at 109 East Jefferson Street. The Gay House is a two-story, gable-front dwelling with a cutaway, front gable, a side appendage, a wraparound porch, and one-story rear ell. The front gable of the main block is clipped and includes picturesque detailing. The porch is supported by turned posts and enclosed with turned balusters. The posts feature decorative knee brackets and there is a spindlework frieze. The house retains its two-over-two light, double-hung, wooden sash windows. The side-hall plan features double-leaf doors framed by sidelights and a transom.
The c. 1910 Steven Rose House at 308 W. Calhoun Street is typical of the simplified interpretation of the Queen Anne style in the Jackson Historic District. The two-story frame house has an L-shaped plan with a side-gable roof and gable-front wing. The attached front porch is supported by turned posts and the central entrance is flanked by sidelights. Similar houses with modest Queen Anne detailing can be found at the c.1900 house at 107 Buxton Street and the c.1900 Guy Britton House at 209 Buxton Street. Each of these houses features a two-story, semi-hexagonal bay on a gable-front wing, rear one-story ells, and attached front porches supported by turned posts.
The Queen Anne style continued to influence residential design in Northampton County until World War I, but in the early twentieth century, the Colonial Revival style became popular, a reassertion of classically derived domestic designs. Particularly during the early years of this century, a number of houses combined elements of both the picturesque Queen Anne style and classicism. The L-shaped plan, the gable-on-hip roof, and wraparound porch all owe their inspiration to the picturesque, but the absence of ornamentation, a symmetrical facade, and the use of simple wooden columns on the porch show the influence of the Colonial Revival.
About four early twentieth century houses located along the east side of North Church Street display the transition taking place from the exuberant Queen Anne style to the more sedate Colonial Revival. The 1918 two-story frame house at 414 North Church Street has a pyramidal roof over the main block of the house and a projecting gable-front wing, as well as a south-side gable. A lunette window is centered in each gable. Windows are six-over-six sash except for a stained-glass window north of the door. A large wraparound porch supported by classical columns forms a porte-cochere on the north side. The c. 1900 two-story, frame house at 500 North Church Street is very similar in size and massing. The house features asymmetrical massing with slightly projecting two-story bays surmounted by pedimented gables with lunette windows. The house has one-over-one sash windows and an expansive wraparound porch. The 1905 Joyner House at 602 North Church Street is a two-story, gable-front house with a projecting two-story, north-side bay surmounted by a pedimented gable. The house has a side-hall plan and a pedimented gable-front entrance portico supported by square posts. Finally, the 1905 house at 704 North Church Street also features a pyramidal roof over the main block of the house, a two-story front bay with a pedimented gable and a lunette window, one-over-one-sash windows, and a wraparound porch supported by slender classical columns. Typically, these houses have one-story rear ells and tall corbelled chimneys.
By the 1920s, the picturesque styles had fallen from favor, and the Colonial Revival continued as a dominant force in domestic design through World War II. Following on the heels of America's centennial celebrations, the Colonial Revival style emerged in the early 1880s. The style, which borrowed heavily from early American architecture, particularly Georgian and Federal buildings, was largely an outgrowth of a new pride in America's past. Among the leaders of the movement were the partners at McKim, Mead, and White who had made a tour of New England's historic towns in 1878. Although early renditions of the style tended to be free interpretations with details inspired by colonial precedents, during the first decade of the twentieth century, Colonial Revival fashion shifted toward carefully researched copies with more correct proportions and details. Colonial Revival houses built in the years between 1915 and 1935 reflect these influences by more closely resembling early prototypes than did those built earlier or later. The economic depression of the 1930s, World War II, and changing postwar fashions led to a simplification of the style in the 1940s and '50s (McAlester, p.326).
The 1933 Eric Norfleet House at 110 West Calhoun Street is a two-story brick Colonial Revival style house with a side-gable, slate roof and a symmetrical, three-bay facade. The central door is flanked by pilasters and surmounted with a fanlight and pediment. Built for a prominent attorney, the house is said to be the first brick house constructed in Jackson. The 1935 Selden House at 117 West Calhoun Street is also a two-story brick Colonial Revival house with a side-gable roof, a modillioned and denticulated cornice, and a five-bay symmetrical facade. The central entrance is flanked by sidelights and surmounted with a fanlight. Tuscan columns support a semi-circular portico.
The Bungalow, inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement, also became immensely popular nationally in the early twentieth century and continued through the 1930s. While the exterior is characterized by the rustic texture of its building materials, broad overhangs with exposed rafter tails at the eaves, and often, extensive pergolas and trellises over the porches, the interior was generally forthright, direct, and functional. Simple versions of the Bungalow are found throughout the Jackson Historic District, including the 1920 Garland Garris House at 115 East Jefferson Street. The one-and-one-half-story frame Bungalow features a gable-front roof, gable dormers, three-over-one sash windows, and a wraparound porch supported by battered columns on brick piers. The 1925 Archie Gay House at 604 North Church Street is a one-story Bungalow with a side-gable roof and a central shed dormer. The engaged, full-width porch is supported by battered columns resting on brick piers and wraps around to form a south-side porte-cochere. The Methodists chose a Bungalow design for their parsonage built in 1935. Located at 411 North Church Street, the one-and-half-story house features a side-gable roof with a central gable dormer, a three-bay symmetrical facade, and a full-width porch supported by battered posts on brick piers. Again, the porch extends on the north side to form a porte-cochere.
Expansion continued into the 1940s with houses being built along Buxton and Long streets. The Cape Cod house form became a popular choice for home builders during this time period. The Cape Cod is the most common form of a one-story Colonial Revival house. As a form, it originated in the early eighteenth century and was loosely patterned after early wooden folk houses of eastern Massachusetts, usually with the addition of Georgian- or Federal-inspired doorways. Cape Cods were built throughout the Colonial Revival era but were most common in the 1920s through the 1940s. Typically, these brick or frame two-pile houses feature gable dormers, steeply-pitched roofs, and a three- or five-bay symmetrical facade with a central door and classical door surrounds. The 1946 Jasper Eley House at 312 Long Street is an excellent example of the Cape Cod house in the Jackson Historic District. The one-and-one-half-story house features a steeply-pitched, side-gable roof with three gable dormers, a three-bay symmetrical facade with eight-over-eight sash windows flanking a central door, and a gable-front portico.
Minimal Traditional and Ranch houses were favored by builders just prior to and in the years following World War II. Several of these house types were built as infill along sections of North Church and Buxton streets. The Minimal Traditional house was a simplified form loosely based on the Tudor Revival style of the 1920s and 30s. Typically, no larger than six rooms, the house was void of nonessential spaces, picturesque features, and unnecessary items that would increase their cost, following their principal for "providing a maximum accommodation within a minimum of means." Houses generally consisted of two to three bedrooms, a bathroom, a small kitchen, and a larger multipurpose living room, arranged in a variety of floor plans. The 1948 Price House at 410 North Church Street is a typical example of a Minimal Traditional house. The one-story frame house with side-gable roof has a north-side, front-gable ell, weatherboard siding, and engaged porch on the south half of facade. Fenestration includes paired six-over-six sash windows and a large multi-pane picture window on the southern half of the facade.
By the early 1950s, the Minimal Traditional house was being replaced by the Ranch house, which dominated American domestic building through the 1960s. The Ranch house was a symbol of the postwar American dream: a safe affordable home promising efficiency and casual living. California architects introduced the Ranch house with a low, horizontal silhouette and rambling floor plan in the 1930s, finding inspiration in the one-story plan of the Spanish Rancho of the Southwest. By the later 1940s, this new house type had caught on across the country. With its open kitchen/living area, the Ranch was specifically geared to casual entertaining. The integration of indoor/outdoor living promised by the one-story layout featuring sliding glass doors, picture windows, and rear terraces and patios was a key selling feature for middle-class families (Carley, p.236). The modest Ranch houses built in Jackson are one-story houses with very low-pitched roofs and with little decorative detailing. The 1954 Price House at 308 Long Street and its neighbor, the 1953 Grant House at 310 Long Street are representative of the Ranch house in the Jackson Historic District. Very little residential construction has taken place in the historic district since the early 1950s.
Jackson's early frame stores were gradually replaced with new one- or two-story brick buildings during the early twentieth century. For the most part, the buildings are simply embellished with corbelled stringcourses and cornices and recessed panels above the storefront. The c.1904 Bank of Northampton at 102 East Jefferson Street is the earliest surviving commercial building in Jackson. Set on the northeast corner of East Jefferson and Atherton streets, the elegant two-story building is five bays wide with paired, segmentally arched, one-over-one sash windows. Decorative Romanesque brickwork at the cornice level enlivens the facade of the building. A wide transom surmounts a cut-away corner entrance with double-leaf doors. Shortened brick pilasters mark the upper corners of the building.
The c. 1930 Lewis Drug Store at 114 West Jefferson Street is a two-story commercial building featuring classical-inspired details including decorative brickwork at the cornice and windows surmounted with fanlight transoms. A heavy wooden cornice divides the first and second levels. The 1912 Britton Store at 125 East Jefferson Street also retains significant classical-inspired details. The second-level facade is marked by a row of six round-arched, one-over-nine windows surmounted by arched hood molds. Three bull's eye windows, each encircled by a double arched frame with voussoirs, mark the upper level of the building.
The remaining commercial buildings tend to be uncomplicated Commercial Style buildings with simple brick detailing at the cornice and recessed panels in the upper level. The store entrances have typically been modified with modern plate-glass widows flanking recessed central doors. Two modest one-story brick buildings were constructed in the 1940s along Thomas Bragg Street, facing the courthouse square. Each of the buildings, located adjacent to each other at 107 and 109 Thomas Bragg Street, are three bays wide with a central entrance flanked by six-over-six sash windows. Brick detailing is minimal, although the building at 109 Thomas Bragg Street features a crenellated parapet.
Gradual domination of the automobile as a mode of transportation resulted in the construction of several garages and auto showrooms in downtown Jackson in the 1920s and 30s. The c.1925 building at 119 West Jefferson Street initially housed a Chevrolet dealership. It became a hardware store shortly thereafter, however, and has remained one ever since that time. A service station constructed for Atlas Oil Company (136 W. Jefferson Street) was built in the mid 1920s on the site of a former blacksmith shop. The brick and concrete block station has a corner office and reception area with a recessed door with a transom and segmentally-arched hood. The concrete block garage area contains two bays for servicing automobiles. Directly across the street at 200 East Jefferson Street stands a former Amoco Station. Built in 1935, the concrete block service station has a flat roof, two service bays, a corner office, and is clad with enameled metal panels.
The commercial fabric of Jackson recalls that of numerous small and medium-sized towns across North Carolina whose commercial centers expanded in the early years of this century in response to significant transportation and industrial development. For example, Scotland Neck (NR 2003), in neighboring Halifax County, also developed around the turn of the twentieth century as a commercial and civic center. The vast majority of its historic resources date to the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries when Scotland Neck developed as an important industrial and market town with agricultural prosperity and textile manufacturing. Like Jackson, most of the commercial buildings conform to the standard commercial designs of the period with simple, rectangular plans, red-brick veneers, flat roofs (often with parapets), simple decorative detailing, and a variety of segmental arched, round arched, or large display widows. Ornamentation is expressed generally through decorative brickwork and includes such elements as corbelling along the parapet, raised or recessed brick panels, stringcourses, or quoins.
The Northampton County Courthouse (NR, 100 West Jefferson Street), erected in 1858, is a splendid Greek Revival-style brick edifice that occupies a shaded square in the middle of the Jackson Historic District. Courthouses were generally viewed as "temples of justice;" thus, the form of the ancient temples of Greece and Rome was an especially suitable one to emulate. Beginning in the 1820s, strict classicism and a preference for Greek forms began to produce what is now known as the Greek Revival style. The earliest surviving Greek Revival courthouse in North Carolina, the former 1833 Burke County Courthouse is a prototype of one popular Greek Revival courthouse plan: cubical main block, one story over a raised basement, hipped roof, conservative classical elements, and portico. The pedimented porticoes of the courthouse shelter the opposing main entrances and a small cupola crowns the roof. The 1847 Camden County Courthouse is similar in its boxy shape, front pedimented portico, and raised basement. The 1838 Granville County Courthouse is a two-story T-plan Greek Revival building with a projecting square tower on the facade (100 Courthouses: A Report on North Carolina Judicial Facilities, p.28).
The temple form, however, was the dominant and most direct classical type in Greek Revival courthouse design during the 1830s, 1840s, and 1850s. The temple-form building is typically rectangular in shape with the main gable end pedimented and often fronted by an engaged portico, also pedimented. Side elevations are pierced by regularly spaced windows which are frequently divided by pilaster or engaged columns. Academic orders are employed in the columns and entablatures; otherwise, the building is generally unadorned. This form is most simply expressed in the former 1847 Gaston County Courthouse with its pedimented gable end and symmetrical arrangement. The 1845 Orange County Courthouse is a notable temple-form courthouse with a tetrastyle Doric portico and handsome wooden cupola (100 Courthouses, p.28).
Strict symmetry and regularity of plan also characterize the Greek Revival style; however, variety can be found in the porticoes and cupolas of courthouses of this style. Although the Ionic is said to be the most appropriate order for courts of justice, it is rarely employed in antebellum public buildings in North Carolina. The temple-form Northampton County Courthouse is an elegant exception. Resting on a high basement, the main floor of the courthouse is treated as a piano nobile. Approached by a wide staircase, the courthouse is fronted by a handsome tetrastyle, pedimented Ionic portico. The simple entablature continues along the sides of the building; and at the front corners of the original building and rear corners of the 1939 addition, it is supported by Doric pilasters. Three entrances on the south (principal) facade include a large central double-door capped by an ornate entablature supported on scroll acanthus consoles flanked by smaller doors. The latter were added during a 1939 Works Progress Administration remodeling and expansion.
The side elevations present three large nine-over-nine sash windows above smaller basement windows. To the rear of the 1859 building is the 1939 addition, a large two-story block that forms a T-shaped composition. The scale fits with that of the original block and the material (brick) and finish blend with the original as well, including the projecting water table, corner pilasters, and entablature. The fenestration is different, however, reflecting the interior space division into two main stories of normal height rather than the high single story of the earlier building. The east and west elevations of the addition are pedimented as is the three-bay central pavilion of the wide four-bay rear (north) elevation. The 1939 portion was designed by A. Mitchell Wooten of Kinston, who was also the architect of the 1939 Lenoir County Courthouse in Kinston (Cockshutt, Courthouse Square National Register nomination, Sec. 7, p.2).
The Northampton County courthouse square contains four additional buildings, one of which is an important antebellum public building, the clerk's office, built in 1831. Located west of the courthouse, the small brick building has a gable roof running perpendicular to that of the courthouse. Built by Captain Abraham Spencer of Oxford, North Carolina, the brick is laid in Flemish bond with a molded brick water table, below which are small iron vent grilles with sunburst designs. The building is three bays long and two deep, with the corbiestep gable ends adorned with pointed pyramidal finials on each step. Along the front and rear elevations and returning slightly into the gable ends is a graceful plastered, coved cornice. Plastered lunettes are centered in the gables. These features, unusual in the state, are found in the clerk's office at Halifax, also built by Abraham Spencer, and to some extent, in the two-story Brick Store, a commercial building in Warrenton — both dating from the 1830s (Bishir, pp.148-149).
The main (south) facade of the clerk's office is three bays wide, each bay containing a doorway approached by steps and surmounted by a stone lintel with keystones. New six-panel doors occupy the entrances. Flanking the entrances are heavy strap hinges pointing outward. The side and rear elevations have windows with nine-over-nine sash, stone sills, and stone lintels with keystones (Cockshutt, Courthouse Square National Register nomination, Sec. 7, p.3).
Directly west of the courthouse sits the former Clerk of Courts and Register of Deeds Building. Built in 1900, the one-story brick building has a hipped metal roof and a hipped central dormer. Four bays wide and two deep, the principal facade is protected by an engaged porch supported by four square brick columns. Two segmental-arched entrances flanked by windows occur on the main facade with windows on the side elevations. The roof is underlined by curved rafter brackets. The interior is comprised of four rooms, with the northwest room serving as a fireproof vault with a stone floor and metal ceiling.
East of the courthouse stands the former 1936 Agricultural Extension Building. The one-story brick building has a hipped roof. The symmetrical facade features a recessed central entrance with a double-leaf door with transom flanked by eight-over-eight sash windows. Brick quoins mark the corners of the building. The 1964 rear section connects to the original building with a short hyphen, creating an "H" shaped building.
The 1990 former Health Building is connected to the west elevation of the courthouse by a covered walkway supported by classical columns. The facade of the one-story brick and concrete block building faces Thomas Bragg Street. The building has a flat roof and a seven-bay symmetrical facade.
Jails have been traditionally associated with the courts and many have been located in the courthouse itself. They provided a powerful visual statement of the authority of law to the citizens of the county, while also serving as a convenient point from which to deliver prisoners to the courtroom. Disadvantages to this arrangement included danger from fires, security problems, and inflexibility, leading many counties to construct modern, expandable jail facilities separate from the courthouse. Sometimes referred to as "law enforcement centers," they may also house offices for the sheriff and related enforcement agencies (A Report on North Carolina Judicial Facilities, p.126).
A 1931 study on the inadequacies of existing jail facilities conducted by the Russell Sage Foundation led to a report recommending minimum specifications for modern detention facilities for small, medium, and large cities. The report coincided with the construction of the two-story on a raised basement jail in the town of Jackson. The 1931 Jackson jail (105 W. Jefferson Street) was built across the street from the Northampton County courthouse, thereby providing a measure of security for courthouse visitors. The jail is set back from the street and yet it remains convenient to the courts. The jail is of fireproof construction with a skeletal steel frame, brick walls, and reinforced concrete floors. The interior of the jail was remodeled in 1995 and currently houses minimum custody inmates. At the same time the sheriffs office moved into the adjacent 1964 Social Security office, the two buildings were connected, and a new detention facility was added to the north side of the 1931 jail (A Report on North Carolina Judicial Facilities, p.126).
The Jackson Elementary School is typical of the consolidated or urban school built in the early twentieth century. Of masonry construction, the schools were normally of one or two stories and were built on the corridor plan with banked windows. The more elaborate schools might exhibit stylistic influences of the Colonial Revival, Tudor Revival, Art Deco or Moderne, and other period styles. Built in 1925, the Jackson Elementary School follows the pattern of schools built throughout North Carolina in the 1920s. The one-story brick school features a side-gable roof with exposed rafters and two shed dormers. The symmetrical facade has a recessed central entrance flanked on each side by banks of nine-over-nine sash windows. Two columns support the Colonial Revival-style gable-front portico. The interior is arranged on the corridor plan with the administration offices clustered near the entrance and the classrooms arranged on either side of the transverse corridor.
As new Protestant Episcopal churches were built in North Carolina during the antebellum period, church architectural preferences within the Episcopal denomination were increasingly rooted in the Gothic Revival style and reflected a progression in design and theological ideals. Congregations within towns and villages tended to embrace this new ideal. New church construction adhered to these ideals as local economics allowed. In 1852, Richard Upjohn, the English-born architect who defined the High Church Gothic Revival in America, published Upjohn's Rural Architecture, a pattern book that included good designs for simple churches. Among the churches that drew upon Upjohn's pattern book were St. Mark's in Halifax (1854) and St. Paul's in Beaufort (1857). Upjohn also provided original designs for parish churches, including Grace Church in Plymouth, a brick church with side tower, which was begun in 1859. Gothic Revival architecture remained a favored church style throughout the remainder of the nineteenth century (Bishir, North Carolina Architecture, p.239).
Adolhus Gustavus Bauer (1858-1898) designed the 1898 Church of the Saviour (NR, corner of N. Church Street and W. Calhoun Street). Built of rusticated granite building stones with brownstone trim, the Church of the Saviour follows a gable-front nave plan, with an offset, three-stage bell tower and a separate vesting room along the south elevation. Simple Gothic Revival-style features enhance its exterior and include lancet windows and pointed-arch door openings. Various window shapes accent the gable ends: a large triplet window at the front, a large circular window at the rear, and a small hull's eye in the sacristy. Brownstone highlights the voussoirs of each pointed arch, the windowsills, and the perimeter of the circular windows. All the windows within the church contain stained glass.
The church property includes a cemetery designed in 1853 by Frederick FitzGerald, the rector. Symmetrical in plan, the original cemetery design featured a series of rectangular family plots that varied in size and formed a Greek cross. Walkways separated each of the twelve family lots. According to the original plan, a circular walkway was to accent the central Rector's lot and single graves would skirt the property's interior perimeter. Today, the cemetery embodies much of FitzGerald's original design and its monuments illustrate a remarkable cross-section of artistic expression from 1853 to 1950 (York, Church of the Saviour National Register nomination, Sec. 8, p.6)
Built in 1906 and remodeled and faced with brick in 1939, the Jackson United Methodist Church (corner of Thomas Bragg and Calhoun Street) replaced the original 1845 frame church. Also rendered in the Gothic Revival style, the church is marked by a bracketed cross-gable roof. Three lancet stained glass windows are centered on the principal facade, while a triplet window surmounted by a Tudor-arched lintel is centered in the front gable. A small gable-front vestibule is situated on the east side of the facade.
Bishir, Catherine and Michael T. Southern. A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Piedmont North Carolina. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2003.
Carley, Rachel. The Visual Dictionary of American Domestic Architecture. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1994.
Cockshutt, Catherine. National Register Nomination for the Northampton County Courthouse Square (1977). North Carolina Division of Archives and History, Survey and Planning Branch.
Hart, Hastings H. Plans for City Police Jails and Village Lockups. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1932.
History of Northampton County Churches. An unpublished manuscript. Northampton County History Museum.
Keane, Beth interview with Billy R. Howell, Pastor, Jackson Baptist Church, Oct. 2002.
Mattson, Alexander & Associates, Inc. Northampton County Survey Findings, 1996. An unpublished manuscript. Department of Cultural Resources, North Carolina Division of Archives and History, Survey and Planning Branch, Raleigh, NC.
McAlester, Virginia & Lee. A Field Guide to American Houses. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1984.
Witt, E. Carl, Chairman for Northampton County Bicentennial Committee. Footprints in Northampton: 1741-1776-1976; Herald Printing House, 1976.
Northampton County Deed Books, Office of Register of Deeds, Northampton County Courthouse, Jackson, NC.
Northampton County Tax Records, Tax Office, Northampton County Courthouse, Jackson, NC.
North Carolina State University. One-Hundred Courthouses: A Report on North Carolina Judicial Facilities. Raleigh: University Graphics, 1978.
Survey and Planning Branch files on Jackson, North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, Division of Archives and History, Survey and Planning Branch, Raleigh, NC.
Van Dolsen, Nancy. Study List Application for the Jackson Historic District (1998). Department of Cultural Resources, Division of Archives and History, Survey and Planning Branch, Raleigh, NC.
York, Drucilla. National Register Nomination for the Church of the Saviour and Cemetery (2002). Department of Cultural Resources, North Carolina Division of Archives and History, Survey and Planning Branch, Raleigh, NC.
‡ Beth Keane, Preservation Consultant, Retrospective, Jackson Historic District, Northampton County, NC, nomination document, 2003, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
Atherton Street North • Bagley Drive • Buxton Street • Calhoun Street East • Calhoun Street West • Church Street North • Jefferson Street East • Jefferson Street West • Long Street • Moore Street • Picard Street • Route 158 • Route 305 • Thomas Bragg Street