Paquinet House – 221 Front Street

From: Early Domestic Architecture in Beaufort, North Carolina - Summer Field Study 2011 - College of William and Mary & Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Dept. of Architectural and Archaeological Research (Klee and Lounsbury) - Images are Field Study drawings and photographs. Click images to enlarge.

The Paquinette House lies along Beaufort’s main waterfront street. It is a two story, timber-framed building that measures 25’9” across and 16’10” deep with a stone pier foundation. The original plan consists of two rooms, one heated, on both the first and second floors. Since its construction in the early nineteenth century, the Paquinette House has undergone some remodeling, altering the circulation between its two floors. After Hurricane Hazel in 1954, the house underwent some necessary repairs and the roof and second-floor porch were both replaced. A major change was made in relocating the enclosed stair between the first and second floors during a major renovation in 1982. Finally, some additions to the house, including a modern kitchen, have been made and extend back from the rear wall.

The original plans for the Paquinette House contained two main rooms on the ground floor. The original staircase had a winder stair, and was enclosed with a doorway and set against the rear wall. However, 1964 drawings from archives at North Carolina State University suggest that a wall was taken out between the first floor staircase and front wall which would have created a 3’9” wide center passage. Without the wall, the stairway forms a half passage between the two rooms, one measuring 11’0”x 15’10” and the other measuring 12’9”x15’10”. Through the front door, it appears that one would immediately enter the larger room which held the enclosure for the winding staircase and would also be used to access the smaller room. Upstairs, the stairway was also enclosed, creating a small lobby that held two doors to both chambers, measuring 15’3”x15’10” and 9’0”x15’10”. The west rooms on each floor were heated by the same chimney.

Changes to the plan, aside from the possibility of a removed first floor partition, include modern rear additions as well as the relocation of the first-floor stairs and the removal of upstairs partitions. The staircase to the second floor has been turned around, so that its entrance now faces the rear of the house. At the top of the stairs, two partition walls that formed part of the lobby were removed as seen in older drawings and ghost marks along the floor near the stairs. As a result, the lobby has now been removed, opening the stairway to the smaller chamber and a door to the heated chamber.

The door to the attic is also original and has an architrave with cavetto and astragal moldings, suggesting an early nineteenth-century date. Further evidence can be found in the architraves of the downstairs doors as well as the doors to the second-floor porch which all have a Roman cyma molding, consistent with a widespread preference for neoclassical forms in the early 1800s. The mantels are of the same design on both the first and second floors as the edges of the architrave curve inward in a semicircle under the cornice and shelf. A similar mantel can also be found in the Manson House on Turner Street, dated to c.1825.

According to the owner, the inner walls were laid with accordion lath, a method popular in New England in the early nineteenth century. Another diachronic feature of the Paquinette House is its weatherboards which are beaded and secured to the house with hand-headed double-struck cut nails, indicative of the first quarter of the nineteenth century. Additionally, the louvered shutters on the second-story windows have all been oddly mounted with the strap hinges attached directly over the louvers.

The woodwork of the Paquinette House has been especially useful in dating its construction and evolution. Sitting directly above the first floor stair, the winding staircase to the attic has an original beaded skirt. Similarly, the girt on top of the second-story porch was observed to be an earlier part of the house due to its beading detail. While the upper porch was rebuilt after Hurricane Hazel, evidence of an old weatherboard found in the knee wall studs under the rafters shows that the porch was an integral part of the house. The posts as well as most of the framing are hewn and pit sawn.

Even with the changes that have occurred, enough structural evidence can be found to suggest that the house was built in the first quarter of the nineteenth century, despite its plaque date of 1769. The Paquinette House shares many features common to the coastal cottages found in Beaufort, North Carolina. Its two-story porch and winding staircases are exemplary of the form.

Other research:
The Paquinet House, plaqued 1769, is believed to have been the home of Michael Paquinet. However, Michael Paquinet would have been 79 at that time. Deed research may show him as owner of the lot/land, but perhaps the house was built by one of his sons or grandsons.

Michael and Mary's Children

About 1740, Michael Paquinet married Mary Powell. Their children were: Mary Paquinet (1741/42-1817) married Nathan Fuller* (1749-1800), buried Beaufort NC; James (1743-1796) married Elizabeth _____; John (1745-1825) married Margaret Fisher; Charity (1748-1824) married William Fisher in 1770; Isaiah (1752-1799) did not marry, he died at sea; Jacob (1754-1788) married Nancy Ann _____; Margaret Elizabeth (1757-); and Rebeckah born 1760, married John Severn about 1786.

After Michael Paquinet’s death in 1772, Mary Powell married Lewis Welch (1700?-1787). In 1775 Robert Read was guardian of the orphans of Michael Paquinet. In that same year, Jacob, Elizabeth and Rebeckah Paquinet chose Lewis Welch as their guardian.

Michael Paquinet’s 1772 Last Will & Testament
Sons: James ("plantation whereon I now live"), John ("100 acres of land on Cane Creek"), Isaiah (200 acres of land on Broad Creek). Daughters: Charity, Mary, Margaret and Rebeckah Paquinet. Wife and Executrix: Mary. Witnesses: John Rustull, Severn Scott, Wm. Robertson. Proven before Jo. Martin.

Son James' daughters married Beaufort men

Children of James and Elizabeth Paquinet: Keziah, born 1777, married John Always of Craven County; Rebecca Paquinet married John Mades 16 Jun 1803; Elizabeth Paquinet, born 1793, married Jesse Piver 19 June 1817; Mary, born 1795, married James G. Noe. Other children were Gaston, Hetty and William. After the death of James Paquinet in 1796, his widow Elizabeth “Betsy” married Francis Dennis in1804.

▪ 1771 Carteret County: James Paquinet on early tax list
▪ 1780 Carteret County: Jacob Paquinet - 18 Nov 1777 to the House of Assembly from inhabitants of Carteret County “& other Members of this State” seeking protection of shipping boats coming into Old Topsail Inlet and Beaufort.
▪ 1790 Carteret County: Listed separately are Ann, Isaiah, John and James Paquinet
▪ 1800 Carteret County: Elizabeth Paquinet. John Paquinet
▪ 1810 Carteret County: Elizabeth Paquinet, Beaufort, 6 in household▪ 1812 Carteret County: Jacob Ens Paquinet, second regiment, NC 1812-14 muster rolls

*Mary Paquinet's husband Nathan Fuller’s November 1800 Will included, “200 acres in common with my daughter Katherine Fisher, on wading creek including the old plantation of Michael Paquinet dec’d.”