Wade House - 205 Orange 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.  

The Wade House, located at 205 Orange Street, is a story-and-a-half, timber-framed house probably built in the early 1830s by Ann Wade, a freed African American slave. The house measures 20’3” in width and 20’6” deep. It has a side passage with two doors that once led to two rooms on the opposite side, one behind the other. While the floor plan for the second floor has been left unchanged, the original staircase may have been moved, and the porch was added after the house was built. A modern addition has been placed at the rear of the house while several modern changes have been made on both the first and second floors. Along with its ownership, some of the Wade House’s most interesting characteristics lie in the ways in which the building has been changed over time.

Since its construction, the Wade House has been greatly renovated and repaired. There is evidence of a small fire in the attic where roof lath has been partially charred. In the roof, a combination of pit sawn and sash sawn rafters can be seen with large, chiseled Roman numerals at their apex, which were used by builders to correctly frame the rafter pairs. A combination of joining techniques was also used in attaching the rafters to each other. Some are pegged together with large wooden pegs while others are secured by mature cut nails. Cut nails can also be found in the house’s south gable cripple studs. The variations in sawing and joining techniques suggests that the roof had to undergo some major repairs, but the methods and materials used on this roof date the building to the end of the first quarter of the nineteenth century.

The Wade House porch is 7’8” deep supported by chamfered column posts. To the front right, the porch windows have mismatched sashes. They also vary by wall and story using combinations of eight-pane and twelve-pane windows. From the marks in the weatherboards, it is also evident that the original doorway was wider and shorter than the current one. This and other changes most likely took place during a major renovation in 1978 when paneling was applied to the interior walls and ceiling and the windows and doors were replaced. A stuccoed exterior chimney sits on the north gable of the house and heats the front room as well as a second-floor chamber.

The modern floors have been especially useful in providing information on the stairs and their origin as they appear to be contemporary with the work done on the current staircase. The stairs rise along the center of the south wall of the side passage and stop before they reach the rear wall. It has a curtail step and small closet door on the rear side of the staircase just below the upper landing. Due to the modern work that has been done on these stairs and the underlying closet, it is very likely that the original staircase was in a different location. A probable position for the old staircase is the rear left corner which is currently used as a closet. To fit the structure, the staircase most likely featured a winder stair which is characteristic of many Beaufort residences of the period.

Another interesting change to the plan of the Wade House also occurs on the first floor in the room opposite the side passage. Originally, the space to the right of the passage was subdivided between the two doorways along the center wall. It would allow access to an 11’3” by 12’3” heated front room and an 11’3”x6’10” rear room. The partition has since been removed, creating one large room so that it extends the depth of the original house with a summer beam in the partition’s place. Further proof of the existence of a partition is the fireplace, which now lies toward the front of the large room, though it would have been centered on the wall of the front room when the subdivision was in place.

The specific function of the partition can be further understood by looking at the architraves of the doors to the room. The two openings were clearly made at the same time as their architraves are both original and have no back bands. However, it should be noted that the architraves on the side of the passage are beaded, but only the front room’s architrave is beaded on both sides. Inside the rear room, the architrave has no molding so that the front heated room was clearly the superior room. Though the doors along the center wall are both modern, their architraves show marks of old hinges. Upstairs is an older two-panel door, another common feature in Beaufort architecture, which can be found in several other houses such as 201 Front Street.

The second-floor mantel in the heated chamber serves as a fine representation of the transitions that have taken place at the Wade House. While the mantel originally was neoclassical in style, it has been redone two times. Once, in the late 1800s, it was given a more Victorian style treatment and the frieze of the architrave was removed. In 1978, the mantel was reworked again, restoring its original design without returning the frieze.

The Wade House’s plaque dates the building to c.1831 which seems plausible given the architectural style and technologies used in its initial design. Ann Wade later sold the house to the Fendersons and moved to Connecticut. Since then, the Wade House has been through many changes reflecting new trends and ownerships, yet it has retained much of what classifies it as a true Beaufort home.

OTHER RESEARCH by Mary Warshaw
Excerpt from PORCHSCAPES, The Colors of Beaufort

This charming Beaufort cottage has weathered change, while maintaining its historical integrity. The early cottage was known as a “story and a jump.” Located on the southeast corner of the “Old Town” lot 85, the original structure consisted of an entrance hall, two rooms and an attic.

In 1813 Beaufort Commissioners Joseph Bell, Jechonias Pigot, and George Read deeded the lot to James Coe for fifty shillings. In 1829 the trustees of the University of North Carolina sold the lot, most likely with a house, for $105—the buyer was James Hart. On August 3, 1830 James Hart sold the property for $105, to twenty-nine-year-old Ann Wade. Before moving to this house, Ann Wade lived near, or next to, James Davis in the second block of Moore Street.

The 1850 census recorded the following in the household: Ann Wade, Jane Hammon, George Wade and children—Joseph A. Wade, Sarah Hammon, Alexander Fenderson, Cicero Fenderson, David Fenderson and Mary Fenderson. Ann Wade was noted as mulatto, while the others were listed as black. Value of real estate owned was $250.

After thirty-four years of ownership, Ann Wade moved to Connecticut. On July 26, 1864 the sale of the property was recorded, “the same premises where the said Jane Fenderson now resides, with all the buildings thereon.” The amount of the sale to her friend, or relative, was one dollar. The 1860 New Haven, Connecticut census recorded Ann Wade as a grocer. In her household were George Wade and David Fenderson.