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Hertford Historic District

Hertford Town, Perquimans County, NC

The Hertford Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1998. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [‡]

Originally known as Phelps' Point, after an early Quaker settler, the town of Hertford is nestled on a peninsula surrounded by the Perquimans River on the north and Skinners Creek on the east. In the second quarter of the eighteenth century, Phelps' Point became the center of government for Perquimans County with the erection of a courthouse, public warehouse, and jail. The point also became the southern landing place of the Perquimans River ferry and taverns were opened to serve the traveling public (Haley, p.135).

Although the town incorporated in 1758 and the first deeds for town lots were signed in April, 1759, the town grew slowly and few houses were erected. (Perquimans Deed Books, Town:1-16). Following the construction of a float bridge in 1798 crossing the Perquimans River from the north end of Church Street, the town became more accessible. The following quarter century was a period of major growth for the town, during which it attained a character and appearance still readily discernible in existing institutions and buildings.

In addition to the 1825 Federal style courthouse, a number of surviving early nineteenth century houses illustrate the evolution from modest one-and-a-half-story dwellings in the town's early history to more fashionable and commodious two-story double-pile houses with engaged double-tier porches by the mid-nineteenth century.

While the early religious scene of Perquimans County and the town of Hertford was dominated by the Quakers, the mid-nineteenth century construction of several prominent church buildings in Hertford attest to the rising popularity of traditional main stream denominations. Constructed within ten years of each other, the 1848 Episcopal Church of the Holy Trinity, the 1854 Hertford Baptist Church, and the c.1855 Hertford Methodist Church (replaced by the current 1901 brick Romanesque style church) continue to assert their influence over Hertford.

Growth and prosperity after recovery from the Civil War was spurred by the coming of the railroad and the rise in the lumber industry. Former slaves added a new element to the town's population, including new institutions. In 1866 St. Paul's A.M.E. Zion Church purchased its lot on Dobbs Street and in 1871 First Baptist Church bought its property on Hyde Park Street. Surviving major fires in 1873 and 1879, Hertford continued to grow, receiving a great boost with the coming of the railroad in 1881. By the end of the nineteenth century the town had a newspaper, a bank, a mattress factory, several lumber mills, and twenty-eight merchants (Haley, p.136).

The town's prosperity is reflected in the many handsome Queen Anne and Colonial Revival style homes scattered throughout the town from the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. In addition, the first quarter of the twentieth century witnessed the expansion of Hertford's business district along Church Street replacing former wood buildings with more durable two-story brick structures embellished with raised parapets and simple brick details.

Like many communities in eastern North Carolina, growth slowed after the Great Depression resulting in little new construction within the town limits. Today, Hertford, nestled on a point surrounded on two sides by water with inviting tree-lined streets and numerous historic homes, is one of the Albemarle region's best-preserved and picturesque towns.

Historical Background and Community Development and Commerce Contexts

Hertford is located within Perquimans County on a peninsula where the Perquimans River receives the waters of two creeks. The land on the peninsula was taken up for Jonathan Phelps, a Quaker, by land grant dated January 1, 1694, although it had been occupied by his grandfather, Henry Phelps, since about 1665. Originally known as Phelps' Point, in the second quarter of the eighteenth century, the area became the center of government for Perquimans County, with the erection of a courthouse, public warehouse, and jail. The point also became the southern landing place of the Perquimans River ferry and businesses were established to serve the traveling public. In the spring of 1758, the state legislature passed an act for establishing a town on the land of Jonathan Phelps on Perquimans River. The act provided for a town to be called Hertford consisting of 100 acres with an additional 50 acres for common ground. The town extended to Perquimans River on the north, Skinners Creek on the east, Gum Pond Run on the south, and the Edenton road on the west. The name Hertford was chosen for the new town to honor North Carolina governor Arthur Dobbs' political patron, Francis Seymour Conway, Earl of Hertford. Dobbs' name was given to a street, while other streets received such London names as Grubb, Hyde Park, and Covent Garden, as well as the more common Church, Front, Market, and King (Haley, p.135).

The first deeds for town lots were signed in April, 1759. Each lot purchaser was allowed three years in which to build "one well framed or brick house, sixteen feet square at the least," but the town grew slowly and few houses were erected. As late as 1790 only twenty-five lots in Hertford were listed for taxes by fifteen individuals (Haley p.135). The construction of a float bridge in 1798 crossing Perquimans River from the north end of Church Street made the town more accessible. The following quarter century was a period of major growth for the town. The original courthouse, constructed sometime between 1726 and 1730, was replaced in 1825 with the still existing Federal style brick courthouse. John Gatling was the contractor for the new courthouse, and in August, 1825, the first court session was held in the new building. In 1823 the Albemarle Lodge of Masons, No.77 (incorporated in 1821) , had made an agreement with the county to assist in construction of the courthouse in exchange for use of a second floor room; this agreement established a continuing association between the county and the Masons. During the May, 1832, court session, plans were made for building a porch on the courthouse, the first of numerous renovations made to the building through the years (Haley, p.159).

During the first quarter of the nineteenth century, Hertford witnessed increasing population and expanding businesses. In 1817 nearby Bethel Baptist Church organized a congregation in Hertford which became independent in 1854 as Hertford Baptist Church (124-126 West Market Street). Methodists became active in the town about 1822 and sixteen years later they purchased the property now occupied by first United Methodist Church (201 West Market Street). Beginning about 1828, Episcopalians formally worshipped in Hertford, constituting themselves a parish in 1848 and soon began building the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church (207 South Church Street) (Haley p.135). The General Assembly bestowed democratic government upon Hertford in 1843 by legislation that allowed the inhabitants to elect annually a three-man board of commissioners to govern the town.

By way of the Quakers and Methodists, citizens of Hertford joined the temperance movement that swept the state in the second quarter of the nineteenth century. Temperance Hall at 116 Front Street was constructed in Hertford in 1851, although it served its purpose but briefly, being sold in 1856 to Eliza A. Skinner and remodeled as a private residence (Watson, p.68).

Among the more prestigious and long-lasting of the Perquimans educational institutions was the private Hertford Academy (106 East Academy Street), constructed in 1819. The school began as a single-story, one-room, 20 by 25-foot structure painted in red ocher (Perquimans County Historical Society Year Book, 1969, p.4). In 1850, the original structure was replaced by a new building, 64 by 30 feet, with two chimneys serving four fireplaces (Perquimans Deed Book, CC:367). The school continued in operation until 1905. A public school system was established in Perquimans County in 1839 (Perquimans Court Minutes, August, 1839). The 1840 census reported eighty-two scholars attending five primary or common schools in the county, but nearly half the free white adult population was illiterate (U.S. Census, 1840). The spread of literacy was slow and there was an obvious need for education outside the home environment.

The Civil War brought economic distress to the citizens of Hertford. Divided in their loyalties, many men sympathetic with the North enlisted in the first Regiment, North Carolina Union Volunteers. Far more of the county's residents agreed that the war was for the maintenance of Southern independence, and they entered Confederate military service. The county was constantly subjected to visitation by both Union and Confederate forces, as well as being plagued by loosely organized groups of local Union sympathizers called Buffaloes who used their adherence to the Union as a cover for thievery and terrorism. Bridges and other property were destroyed, civilians were harassed, imprisoned, or killed; and skirmishes were fought within the county. Lack of maintenance for roads and destruction of the bridges by Union soldiers made public transportation difficult (Haley, p.27). Following the destruction of the float bridge at Hertford, the county operated a ferry for five years as a replacement. The county magistrates decided in 1867 to rebuild the float bridge and entrusted the task to Francis E. Winslow who completed the structure in the summer of 1868 (Haley, p.1149).

At the end of the Civil War in 1865, Perquimans County was faced with the need for radical transformation; half of the population, once slave, had suddenly become free. A new position in the social order was needed for the freedmen, many of whom had fought for their freedom in the United States Colored Volunteers. Adjustments were necessitated in the agricultural system as the status of a large labor force changed. Local government and the public school system, disordered by war, had to assimilate the new citizens. During a three-year period of reconstruction, 1865 to 1868, Perquimans was under the influence of Union military authorities. The county school system was greatly aided by the Freedmen's Bureau and the Baltimore Association of Friends. The freedmen also organized churches for themselves including the First Baptist Church of Hertford (213-215 Hyde Park Street) (Haley, p.27).

Agriculture remained the dominant force in Perquimans County during and after Reconstruction. Corn, followed by cotton and then wheat, constituted the principal crops raised in the 1880s (U.S. Census, 1880, Agriculture Schedule). In 1881 a railroad line connecting Norfolk and Edenton passed through Hertford, opening the Perquimans County economy to the outside world for the first time (Haley, p.56).

The opening of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad line in 1881 provided the catalyst for the county's first industrial growth as the lumber industry was quick to capitalize on the new accessibility to abundant timber resources. Speculative lumber companies began organizing large mills and rapidly acquired timber rights in the county, replacing small independent sawmills. The firms of Fleetwood Lumber Company (1891) and Albemarle Lumber Company (c.1894), both in Hertford, were conveniently located beside the Perquimans River and ideally situated beside the Norfolk and Southern Railroad main line with which each maintained its own spur connectors (Haley, p.56).

The lumber industry not only provided employment for many, especially unskilled black laborers, but it also offered a greater variety of job specialization than other segments of the economy. The Census of 1900, for example, noted such job titles as sawyer, sawfiler, fireman, engineer, and inspector (Haley, p.59). As a direct result of this industrial growth, the county experienced an unprecedented period of prosperity and change. Much of the growth came in the Town of Hertford whose 1890 population of 765 had nearly tripled to 2,000 by 1896 (Haley, p.59).

Perquimans County witnessed the advent of banking with the establishment of the Hertford Banking Company in 1895 by J. Elmer White. The firm was absorbed in 1901 by a corporation of which G.H. Newby was president and eventually became part of Peoples Bank and Trust Company which was subsequently joined by the Hertford Savings and Loan Association. The Farmers National Bank (129 North Church Street), founded in 1916, enjoyed a brief existence, succumbing to the Great Depression in 1929 (Watson, p.102). The first electric plant in Perquimans County was owned and operated by Hertford at the turn-of-the-twentieth-century, although much of the rural area of the county did not become electrified until the Second World War (Haley, p.59).

Hertford's commercial district expanded along Church Street during the first quarter of the twentieth century, witnessing the construction of many one- and two-story brick buildings. The 1895 W.R. Shannonhouse Building (121-127 North Church Street), the 1905 Hertford Hardware and Supply Store (146 North Church Street), the 1909 Darden's Department Store (109-111 North Church Street), the 1911 Dr. Robert W. Smith Drug Store (101 North Church Street), the 1912 Roses 5-10-25 Cent Store (103-107 North Church Street), the c.1915 Old Hertford Post Office (147 North Church Street), the 1916 Divers Motor Company Building (135 North Church Street), and the 1928 Gregory's 5-10-25 Cent Store (115-119 North Church Street) are all reflective of the growth which occurred in Hertford from the turn-of-the-twentieth-century into the nineteen twenties.

Social institutions flourished after Reconstruction. The Masonic Order remained active, with blacks organizing the Meridian Masonic Lodge and the Beersheba Odd Fellows Lodge, No.1676. Whites in Hertford formed a military company, the Perquimans Guards, in 1896, which elected T.G. Skinner as its captain (Watson, p.115).

Entertainment was normally homespun, leisure hours spent attending festivals, dances, and visitations. The State Theatre (144 North Church Street) opened in downtown Hertford in 1937, replacing two earlier theaters. Whites and blacks organized local bands. The Perquimans Concert Band received its first instruments in August, 1892, and a year later announced it was ready to furnish music for picnics, parties, and excursions (Watson, p.115). Citizens of Hertford also enjoyed baseball, forming several teams and producing a local hero, Jim (Catfish) Hunter, a baseball Hall of Fame star pitcher for the Oakland A's from 1965 through 1974 and the New York Yankees from 1975 through 1979.

The twentieth century brought about significant improvements in public education in Perquimans County. A large two-story brick building with a hipped roof and banks of windows opened as the Hertford Grammar School in 1905. Located on West Academy Street in Hertford, the building served to educate the community's children for fifty years before being destroyed by fire in 1956. Several small secondary schools located in the county were consolidated when the Perquimans High School opened in 1924. Located on Edenton Road within the town limits of Hertford, the school remains in operation today. The black population of Hertford was served by the King Street Hertford Elementary School built in 1957, while the older children went to Union School in Winfall. When integration took place in the 1960's, the black school population merged with the Hertford Grammar School and the Perquimans High School (Town of Hertford Bi-Centennial Publication, 1758-1958).

Noticeable advances were realized in overland transportation in the twentieth century. U.S. Highway 17 crossed the county in 1925 and lifted Perquimans out of its long era of relative isolation. Hertford abandoned its unique float bridge after high waters dislodged it early in 1897. A new 207-foot trestle with a 153-foot drawspan built by the George E. King Bridge Company opened in late January, 1898. A bridge keeper was hired for $10.00 a month and allowed to live in the bridge house and to cut firewood on county land. The 1898 bridge was replaced in 1928 with the current S-shaped steel-truss-and-concrete bridge (Watson, p.103).

At the approach of the twenty-first century, Perquimans County and the town of Hertford remain somewhat removed from mainstream America. The area exhibits an agrarianism which appears alien amid the industrialization and urbanization that increasingly characterize the nation. Change and growth are inevitable, however, with the widening of U.S. Highway 17 into a four-lane highway. The area is also experiencing an influx of non-native inhabitants, attracted to the area's mild climate, water accessibility, and slow-paced way of life.

The tree-lined streets and open spaces of Hertford continue to preserve a nineteenth century rural feeling, punctuated by a large number of well-preserved antebellum, as well as Victorian-era buildings. Market Street, in particular, retains many significant buildings, while the Church Street business sections maintain a character established between 1895 and 1920. The Perquimans County Courthouse remains the center of town, as it was in the nineteenth century, and contributes greatly to the economic vitality of the town.

Residential Architecture

Constrained by the practical needs of daily life and rural nature of the county, the evolution of a diverse cross-section of architectural patterns was slow to develop in Perquimans County. Only rarely did an unusually sophisticated house form appear within the county's deeply rooted English vernacular tradition during the late eighteenth century. The surviving architectural fabric suggests an evolutionary process of increasing and redefining spatial functions and needs. The more fashionable and commodious two-story house with front and rear sheds was emerging during the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries as a popular alternative to the earlier modest one-and-a-half story dwelling with a rear shed. Concurrently, several small single-pile dwellings were being transformed into updated double-pile coastal cottages with engaged porches. Although the old hall-and-parlor floor plan persisted well into the mid-nineteenth century, the center-hall plan grew in popularity among the more prosperous landowners. By the 1820s and 1830s, the acceptance of the side-hall plan was widespread throughout the county, especially in Hertford (Haley p.29).

Hertford's earliest surviving houses fall into the category of dwellings found throughout the Albemarle region characterized by mortise and tenon construction with weatherboard cladding, gable-end roofs, double-tier porches, and exterior-end chimneys. Believed to be the earliest surviving house within the Hertford Historic District, the Creecy-Skinner-Whedbee House (101 Punch Alley) was possibly constructed about 1775. The presence of horizontal flush beaded boards on the facade of the first story indicate the current double-tier engaged porch replaced an earlier one-story shed porch. The double-pile dwelling is the only house in Hertford to illustrate and maintain its original paired entrances, each of which is surmounted by a multi-pane transom. Of the original three exterior chimneys, one remains, laid in 1:5 common bond with paved tumble shoulders. An earlier one-story rear ell and a side wing have been removed. The house was remodeled c.1935, and at that time the porch's second floor was partially enclosed.

As residential areas expanded from the 1820s through the 1850s, the side-hall plan became increasingly popular in Hertford. Stylistically spanning the Federal and Greek Revival periods, the plan was used for two basic house forms: either a typical two-story single-pile dwelling with an optional rear shed, or a two-story double-pile dwelling. Built with heavy mortise-and-tenon construction, the houses feature a variety of porches, the most common earlier one being a one-story shed-roof type and the later standard Greek Revival version being a double-tier engaged porch. In the double-pile variation, the house's main body formed a square measuring approximately twenty-five feet to thirty feet on each side (Haley, p.43).

Four distinctly Federal side-hall-plan double-pile dwellings built between 1818 and 1830 stand in Hertford today — the c.1818 Edward Wood House (208 North Church Street), the c.1820 Col. Francis Toms House (215 West Market Street), the c.1820 Benjamin Berry House (201 West Dobbs Street), and the c.1825 Alfred Moore House (119 West Market Street). Although each has been modified, the interior character remains virtually intact except for the Alfred Moore House where the hall was partitioned in half. Both the Wood and Moore houses maintain a quarter-turn stair with winders rising along the hall's side and rear walls. Handsome dog-leg stairs with landing distinguish the halls in the Berry and Toms houses. In all four of these houses, simple reeding highlights the interior woodwork, most notably the mantels. Flat-panel wainscoting further dignifies the principal rooms in each except for the raised panel variation in the Wood House hall. Both the Berry and Wood houses were later updated in the Greek Revival style with the enlarged Berry house acquiring a handsome Greek Revival entry (Haley, p.46).

The easy adaptability of the side-hall plan was responsible for the large-scale conversion of many to a center-hall plan during the last half of the nineteenth century. For the most part these houses were predominantly Federal style, often with later Greek Revival enlargements (Haley, p.45). Two of the earliest examples — the c.1822 Ralph Coston (307 West Market Street) and the 1818 Isaac Hall (200 West Market Street) houses — reflect the single-pile version of the two-story scheme. Presently, both the Coston House and the Hall House appear as center-hall dwellings with two-story rear additions.

The coastal cottage was becoming a popular architectural form utilized by the smaller farmers through the county during the early nineteenth century. Characterized by an engaged porch, these three-bay one-and-a-half-story dwellings usually present an asymmetrical fenestration pattern. The measurements of a coastal cottage roughly form a square ranging from twenty-five to twenty-eight feet, with the porch adding about eight feet to the dwelling's depth (Haley, p.42). An early coastal cottage in Hertford which has been enlarged and modified is the c.1832 Edy Wood House at 128 West Grubb Street. Built for Edy Wood, a freedwoman, the house began as a two-room dwelling which was doubled in size when it was extended to a center-hall plan. Distinctive features include the two exterior gable-end chimneys laid in 1:5 common bond and interior Greek Revival details.

By 1830, the classical forms of the Greek Revival period were beginning to replace those of the Federal style. Derived from the pattern books of Asher Benjamin, the Perquimans County's finest examples of Greek Revival style were mostly connected with either the Leigh or Skinner families. The fully developed Greek Revival side-hall-plan house is best exemplified in Hertford by the c.1851 Lewis H. Richardson House at 310 North Church Street. A striking double-tier porch with cornice returns is supported by square-in-section fluted columns and skirted by a balustrade featuring turned balusters and a molded hand rail. The trabeated entrance is framed by symmetrical surrounds with plain corner blocks as are the typical more expansive windows.

The c.1850 Col. Wilson Reed House at 106 West Grubb Street presents basic Greek Revival form and detail. The double-pile two-story dwelling boasts a typical double-tier front porch supported by square-in-section fluted columns. Instead of the more characteristic engaged porch, this attached one features a hip roof with cornice returns. The rear double-tier porch has since been enclosed. The remaining original door and window surrounds exhibit elaborate Greek Revival moldings, which are repeated on the former wing (Haley, p.160).

With the rise in the state's industrial growth during the mid-nineteenth century came a growing trend to mechanize and standardize the production of building materials. The prefabrication of building elements eventually became commonplace and paralleled the establishment of the building industry as represented in the growth of band saw and planing mills, brick manufacturing companies, and sash, door, and blind mills. Effecting departures from traditionally rooted construction practices and labor skills, these modernizations produced a transitional period which was to last through the remainder of the nineteenth century into the first quarter of the twentieth century (Haley, p.60).

Characterized by a wide range and assortment of housing forms, the period from 1868 to 1929 is made up of a striking blend of the more traditional three-bay two-story dwellings and coastal cottages with the increasingly popular Queen Anne and Colonial Revival style inspired dwellings. The continuity of the coastal cottage throughout the nineteenth century in the Albemarle region is illustrated in Hertford by the one-and-a-half-story 1872 Dr. James J. Shannonhouse House at 220 North Church Street. Displaying late Greek Revival details, the house originally featured complementary front and rear engaged porches with a detached kitchen. Distinctive elements include four interior-end chimneys and gable dormers. Each bay of the three-bay facade is flanked by side lights, while the central entrance is capped by a transom.

In contrast, the traditional gable-roof three- or five-bay two-story post-Civil War dwelling was a popular choice throughout the county as well as in Hertford. It followed a single-pile center-hall plan with either a one- or two-story rear ell, along with a one- or two-story attached porch. A standard feature of each gable roof is a boxed cornice with returns, while decorative turned and sawnwork details typically distinguish the porches.

The 1906 Amos W. Roughton House at 118 West Grubb Street is a good example of this vernacular building style. The two-story, single-pile house is three bays wide with a central hall. The gable-end roof, as well as the gable-front portico, features cornice returns; a one-story ell addition extends off the back. The 1892 Blount Holly House at 217 North Church Street is similar with its two-story, single-pile, three-bay configuration. Also featuring cornice returns and a central gable-front interruption, an attached screen porch and a one-story rear addition complete the house.

Following a natural progression in the development of the basic two-story single-pile house, the irregular plan created by a two-story asymmetrically placed cross gable fulfilled the desire for additional space without resorting to a full double-pile plan (Haley, p.64). The 1892 Thomas C. Blanchard House at 214 West Market Street is a two-story gable-roof T-house unified by a single-story wrap-around porch. The c.1916 Ruth Toms Newby House at 107 North Covent Garden Street also reflects the evolvement of the simple traditional two-story gable-end house form into a T-house with a gable-front addition.

First introduced in the county during the 1890s, the nationally-popular Queen Anne style was characterized by its complicated massing wrapped in bays, projecting gables, and elaborately detailed wrap-around porches. The 1894 Tudor F. Winslow House at 210 West Market Street illustrates in its simplest form the massing characteristic of the Queen Anne style. The 1893 Matthew H. White House at 107 East Grubb Street, however, exemplifies a fully articulated Queen Anne house highlighted by turned and sawnwork detail, ornate stained-glass windows, and a stylish combination gable and bay projection. The c.1900 Penelope S. McMullan House at 308 North Church Street, probably designed by the Durham-based architect Hill C. Linthicum, reflects a late, more restrained interpretation of the style featuring a handsome wrap-around porch with a porte-cochere. (Haley, p.64).

By the early twentieth century, the emergence of both the Colonial Revival and the Craftsman Bungalow styles is evident in Hertford. Featuring classically derived details, Colonial Revival houses are characterized by a boxy massiveness which at times closely relates to that of the Queen Anne style, especially in such examples as the 1905 Dr. Thomas S. McMullan House at 303 North Church Street and the 1909 Charles Johnson House at 113 North Covent Garden Street. The Dr. Thomas S. McMullan House at 303 North Church Street typifies the use of Queen Anne style massing with Colonial Revival details prevalent in early twentieth century building patterns. Popular features include the wrap-around porch, a steeply pitched hipped roof interrupted by pedimented gables with Palladian-design ventilators, and a wide eave overhang supported by brackets. The Charles Johnson House at 113 North Covent Garden Street features projecting gables which interrupt the pyramidal roof and contain a fanlight; while the wrap-around porch with a handsome balustrade skirts the facade.

Among the more impressive Colonial Revival style houses in Hertford, the c.1905 George E. Major House (131 West Market Street) and the c.1911 William R. White House (211 West Market Street) each exhibit three-bay double-pile center-hall plans with exaggerated hipped roofs and wrap-around porches.

The only Neoclassical Revival style house to be built in Hertford is the 1917 Thomas Nixon House at 314 North Church Street. While a monumental portico supported by paired Ionic columns dominates the facade, a smaller one-story wrap-around porch with porte-cochere supported by smaller Ionic columns resting on brick pedestals also graces the front of the house. Large hipped dormers accent the hipped roof which is pierced by two heavily corbelled chimney stacks.

The Craftsman Bungalow style, characterized by gable roofs with deep eave overhangs supported by oversized brackets, along with porches distinguished by truncated posts resting on brick piers, did not meet with the same popularity in Hertford as it did in the rest of the nation, although there are several notable examples. The 1924 William M. Divers House at 206 South Church Street is the only two-story Bungalow in town. The gable-front house is distinguished by the beautifully proportioned front gables of the porch, the second floor bay, and the porte-cochere. Enlarged brackets support each gable overhang. Both the porch and porte-cochere are supported by truncated square brick piers. The windows display a multi-pane upper sash and a single-pane lower one. The E. Leigh Winslow House (212 West Dobbs Street) and the W. Howard Pitt House (214 West Dobbs Street), both c.1925, are one-and-a-half-story examples which feature enlarged shed dormers.

Several significant outbuildings survive in Hertford. Of the four original outbuildings on the property of the c.1818 Isaac Hall House (200 West Market Street), including a milk house, a dairy, a smoke house, and a kitchen, only a detached kitchen remains. Square in plan, the kitchen features weatherboard siding, a pyramidal roof, and a central chimney.

The c.1820 Benjamin Berry House at 201 West Dobbs Street, provides a clear picture of a typical assortment of dependencies associated with early-nineteenth century houses in Hertford Historic District. The collection includes a small dairy, a detached kitchen, a smokehouse, and a converted carriage house.


Perquimans County underwent important cultural and social changes during the first half of the nineteenth century. Most significantly, the decline of the Society of Friends corresponded with the simultaneous rise of the Methodist and Baptist churches. A large number of Quakers had laid down their meetings to remove to states offering good soil and a free society. By 1854, every meeting in the county except Piney Woods had ceased to exist. Although its orientation was altered when the church was remodeled in 1927, the original Piney Woods Meeting House was a plain frame gable-front building with sash windows and weatherboard siding (Haley, p.24).

Many of the county's mid-to-late-nineteenth century churches were built in the simple Greek Revival temple form. Several examples include the 1837 Bethel Baptist Church and the c.1851 Whiteville Grove Baptist Church. Each were simple frame buildings with pedimented gables. Following in the tradition, the original c.1855 Hertford United Methodist Church (201 West Market Street) featured a pedimented gable with a fanlight, attenuated windows, and a tall steeple. Demolished in 1901, it has been replaced with the current brick Romanesque style church built the same year. The bell-tower has undergone several modifications, including the conversion of the spire into a crenelated parapet and the removal of its cornice. An attached education building was constructed in 1928.

Not very popular and never having a settled minister in colonial Perquimans, Anglicanism virtually disappeared from the county in the latter part of the eighteenth century. It was not until Protestant Episcopal clergy from Edenton and Elizabeth City began visiting Perquimans in the 1820s that any serious attempt was made to revive the church. Prominent planters such as Benjamin S. Skinner organized an Episcopal church in Hertford in 1848, soon erecting Holy Trinity Episcopal Church (207 South Church Street) (Haley, p.25-26). Built in the Gothic Revival style, this picturesque frame church is dominated by the deep gable-end roof which is supported by side buttresses and corner angle buttresses. Both the narthex and the bell-tower were added in 1894.

The Baptists were not formally organized in Perquimans County until after 1800. Many of the early Baptist churches in the county were simple gable-front frame vernacular buildings. The 1837 Bethel Baptist Church exhibited many Greek Revival details including a pedimented gable with simple modillion blocks and cornerboards fashioned after simple pilasters. A missionary congregation was established in Hertford which became independent in 1854, as Hertford Baptist Church (124-126 West Market Street), with the completion of its handsome Italianate building (Haley, p.25). The only Italianate style church in Perquimans County, the building has undergone several modifications. The original broached spire was reduced in size c.1900 and by 1923, plans were begun to replace the small vestibule with a Classical Revival portico. At the same time an attached educational building was constructed. It was further enlarged in 1955.

On February 11, 1871, trustees of the Missionary Baptist Church in Hertford purchased a town lot for the purpose of building a church. The congregation was organized by freedmen who were formerly members of Hertford Baptist Church, and as a new congregation, their first service was held on June 4, 1866, in a brush shelter at the Academy Square on Hyde Park and King Streets (Haley, p.145). Many of early African-American churches in Perquimans County were simple frame vernacular buildings, usually with a three-bay gable-front configuration with simple lancet windows. The present-day First Baptist Church (213-215 Hyde Park Street) is probably the second built on the site, as an 1897 newspaper reported that the old colored Baptist church had been torn down and a new one is soon to be erected. The brick Gothic Revival church has undergone several modifications.

Institutional and Commercial Buildings

During the 1820s, a great deal of building activity took place in Hertford, including the construction of a new 1825 Federal style brick courthouse (128 North Church Street). Laid in Flemish bond, the courthouse's symmetrical five-bay facade is distinguished by a diminutive porch supported by molded brick columns. Dentil rows accent both the porch cornice and pediment, while the central double-door entrance is complemented by a fanlight. Modifications made in 1892 lengthened the courtroom by obliterating the original apse and shortened the vestibule by repositioning the courtroom partition walls. Rooms were also added behind each wing. During the twentieth century, further additions were made to the rear and both sides (Haley, p.159).

The 1936 Perquimans County Agricultural Building (102 West Dobbs Street), a frame building with brick siding located at 102 West Dobbs Street, was constructed by the Works Progress Administration. The building is currently utilized as a town municipal building.

Built in 1946, the Meridian Masonic Lodge Hall (210 Hyde Park Street) is one of the largest non-residential frame structures in Hertford. The simple three-bay two-story building is distinguished by a recessed central entrance. Plain surrounds accent each 2/2 sash window. The flat roof has recently been replaced with a gable-front roof.

Hertford's commercial district is centered around the courthouse on the 100 block of Church Street. The earliest stores in Hertford's small central business district were of frame construction. However, as the town began to grow and prosper in the early twentieth century, these were replaced with new one- or two-story brick buildings. Most of the commercial buildings erected during the first quarter of the twentieth century were in popular Classical Revival and Victorian styles widely used in North Carolina during the era. The buildings tend to be embellished with corbelled string courses, corbelled cornices, pilasters and recessed panels.

A well-detailed example includes the c.1909 Darden Department Store (109-111 North Church Street). Retaining a virtually intact facade, the five-bay brick store front is highlighted by a raised parapet and corbelled brick rows which delineate each floor and comprise the cornice. The facade is further distinguished by handsome brick pilasters with a pseudo-rusticated surface treatment. The windows feature arched lintels with brick keystones.

The 1916 Farmers National Bank (129 North Church Street) features a striking Classical Revival facade. Supported by four fluted Ionic columns, the bank's shallow in-antis porch dominates the three-bay facade. Clay tiles cover the porch's shed roof and complement the building's buff color bricks. Double-door entrances flank the central picture-window bay and each is surmounted by a multi-pane transom containing stained glass.

A handsome Colonial Revival style commercial building is exemplified by the c.1912 Roses 5-10-25 Cent Store (103-107 North Church Street). The well-preserved facade is distinguished by a striking cornice featuring both a modillion-block row and a dentil row. The jack arch of each second floor window contains alternating oversized elements plus an enlarged keystone. Cast-iron columns support the large display windows, and a pair of recessed entrances lead into the open merchandise area.

Several prominent buildings in the commercial area attest to the arrival of the automobile in Hertford. The 1916 Divers Motor Company Building at 135 North Church Street was the first automobile showroom in Hertford. A six-bay brick commercial building with a patterned brick cornice and arched brick lintels over the windows, the building proudly displayed the latest model-T Fords behind its plate-glass windows. The business was such a success, the company expanded substantially in c.1923 by the attached addition of the brick two-story Divers Motor Company Annex (109 West Grubb Street). The c.1928 Hollowell and Blanchard Garage (105 East Grubb Street), a large one-story brick building constructed as a commercial garage and auto dealership, anchors the corner of East Grubb and Front Streets. With the coming of the automobile, came improvements in the bridge which carried traffic into Hertford over the Perquimans River. The float bridge was replaced in 1898 with a new 207-foot trestle with a 153-foot drawspan. A bridge keeper was hired and allowed to live in the bridge house located adjacent to the bridge on Church Street. When automobile traffic continued to increase, the transportation department of North Carolina replaced the 1898 bridge with the current S-shaped steel-truss-and-concrete bridge.

The commercial section of Hertford expanded slightly north of North Church Street during the twentieth century to include parts of West Market Street and West Dobbs Street. Several large two-story brick commercial buildings on the north side of West Market include the 1895 Mills L. Eure Building (110 West Market Street) and the c.1920 M.H. White/H.C. Stokes Building (112-116 West Market Street). The 1936 Dr. Thomas P. Brinn Clinic located at 118 West Market Street is a handsome building with brick siding, a raised brick parapet, and brick jack arch lintels over the windows. Located farther out along West Dobbs Street on the edge of the Hertford Historic District is the 1943 Jackson Wholesale Company Building (220 West Dobbs Street) and the 1945 Towe-Webb Motor Company Building (226-228 West Dobbs Street), both constructed of cinderblock, a building material which gained in popularity around World War II. Several important commercial buildings located along the south side of West Market Street include the c.1932 Charles E. Johnson Building (109-111 West Market Street), the c.1948 D.M. Jackson Building (113-115 West Market Street), and the c.1948 Hertford Furniture Company Building (117 West Market Street).

The Hertford Historic District represents the architectural traditions prominent in this river town from the late eighteenth up through the mid-twentieth centuries. The historic homes, churches, and stores of this small community form an important and significant collection of architectural specimens in Perquimans County and the State of North Carolina.


Haley, Dru Gatewood and Raymond A. Winslow, Jr. The Historic Architecture of Perquimans County, North Carolina. Hertford: Town of Hertford, 1982.

Perquimans County Deed Book, CC:367.

Perquimans County Court Minutes, 1839.

Perquimans County Historical Society Year Book, 1969.

Sanborn Insurance Company Maps. Hertford Series 1916, 1923, 1929.

Survey and Planning Branch. North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, Division of Archives and History. Survey files for Town of Hertford created by Dru Gatewood Haley and Raymond A. Winslow, Jr.

Town of Hertford Bi-Centennial 1758-1958; And Historic Data of Perquimans County, North Carolina.

United States Census, 1840, Population Schedule O: Perquimans County.

Watson, Alan D. Perquimans County: A Brief History. Raleigh: Division of Archives and History, North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, 1987.

Winslow, Raymond A., Jr. "Temperance Hall," Perquimans County Historical Society Year Book, 1979.

Beth W. Keane with Ray Winslow, Retrospective. Hertford Historic District, Perquimans County, N.C., nomination document, 1998, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

Street Names
Academy Street East • Church Street North • Church Street South • Covent Garden Street North • Dobbs Street West • Front Street North • Front Street South • Grubb Street East • Grubb Street West • Hyde Park Street • King Street • Market Street West • Perquimans Street • Phelps Street • Punch Alley • Route 17 • Route 37