Beaufort Female Institute circa 1854 and the Thomas Isaac Duncan Family

After 1945 and before early 1990s
Frances Severn Langdon Canaday had a building constructed on lot # 12 Old Town for her son Rev. William Isaac Langdon (1814-1859), where he conducted the Beaufort Female Institute—the upper two floors were used as living quarters for students, faculty and family; the 8-foot high English basement was used as classrooms. (Kell)

In The Story of the Methodist in Beaufort, Amy Muse wrote, "He conducted The Beaufort Female Institute in the house in which 'Miss Laura' Duncan lives. His mother 'Miss Frances' Canaday built the house for him—the upper part to be used as his home, the basement rooms for the school. Later she built another for him on the west side of Pollock Street just back of the Inlet Inn where he was conducting a school at the time of his death in 1859." 

Miss Henrietta Lea (1840-1929) was one of the young teachers at the school. Daughter of minister Solomon Lea, who became the first President of Greensboro Female College, Henrietta evidently came to Beaufort to teach in Rev. Langdon's school, then met and married minister Marcus Cicero Thomas Jr. (1831-1913) in 1858. 

NOTE: In a 1898 report compiled by the Superintendent of Public Instruction of North Carolina, the following were noted in Beaufort: Carteret Academy chartered in 1810 and Beaufort Male and Female Academy chartered 1842; and the Beaufort Female Institute in 1854. In 1856 W.I. Langdon was principal of a female school at Beaufort; it was afterwards removed to High Point. The Atlantic Military Institute was located in Beaufort about 1860. 

What has been called the "Beaufort Academy," and is now plaqued "Carteret Academy," was actually the Beaufort Female Institute. When built, it looked nothing like it does today. On Gray's 1880 Map this lot is noted as the "Duncan Estate." The porches were added after 1898. (See Sanborn maps below) The house was one of the first plaqued in 1963. Purchased in 1989, it was elevated several step higher, supporting pillars replaced with brick and the basement bricked in. 

Thomas Isaac & Laura Nelson Duncan 1930s
Thomas Isaac Duncan
Laura Nelson Duncan
For close to 100 years, this was home to the family of Thomas Isaac Duncan (1860-1938) and Laura Closs Nelson (1861-1941), married December 15, 1881; Laura was the daughter of John Hancock Nelson and Mehetable N. Mason. The couple had eight surviving children, all born in the house: Thomas Isaac (1884-1931) was a physician and married Alha Naomi Funderburk, Laura Mae (1886-1990) married William Porter Sellers Jr., Grace Vernon (1889-1974) married Numa Fletcher Eure, Graham Washington (1891-1953) was a lawyer and married Myrtle Lytle and Olive Woodard, Sally Ramsey (1894-1967) married William Pendleton Kennedy, John Nelson (1896-1986) was a lawyer and married Dorothy Sloan Allen, Lena Nelson (1898-1990) never married, and Edward Ernest Duncan (1905-1980) was a lawyer and married Anne Elizabeth White.

In 1900 Thomas I. Duncan was a "huckster - fish." From 1906 until 1907 he was in Charleston managing a canning factory. In 1910 Thomas was back in Beaufort and owned a canning factory. The 1940 Beaufort census noted value of home $5000. Thomas' death certificated noted that he worked for the US Weather Bureau. 

Laura Mae Duncan Sellers
Daughter Laura Mae Duncan Sellers (1886-1990) 
lived to be 104!
1986 News-Times article

Laura and Grace  
circa 1900
Lena Nelson Duncan 
Daughter Lena Nelson Duncan lived in the house until the late 1970s. 

Lena and her siblings were grandchildren of William Benjamin Duncan (1836-1911) and great granddaughter of Thomas Duncan (1806-1880). When the Beaufort library was incorporated in 1943, Lena was involved. 

John Nelson Duncan Sr.
Lena's brother John Nelson Duncan Sr. (1896-1986) was the grandfather of current Beaufort resident and realtor John N. Duncan III - Beaufort Realty on Front Street.

John Nelson Duncan Sr. photos from 1916 Duke University yearbook The Chanticleer - Beaufort High School, Hesperian Literary Society, Chanticleer Board (photo), Sandfiddler's Club and Kappa Sigma

The Chanticleer Board
Sandfiddler's Club
Jean B. Kell Photo circa 1992
1970 Tony P. Wrenn 
NC Office of Archives and History

THE 1997 RUTH LITTLE SURVEY: The front porch of this vernacular Queen Anne-style house is its crowning feature; it is full width across the first story with a 2nd-story turreted balcony, all with turned posts and railings as well as sawnwork brackets and drip courses. The off-center front door is also notable. The porch was probably added in the late 1800s.[between 1898 and 1904] (Tony P. Wrenn) 

A renovation in the early 1990s raised the already tall foundation up so high that most of its original architectural integrity has been lost. The now raised basement has been bricked in, which has also diminished its original integrity.

The setting of lot #12 Old Town: During the Revolutionary War, about 75 years before this structure was built, there was an unobstructed view of the Inlet and the Banks on either side, except for a small “bunch of bushes” on what was known as the Island of Marsh (Town Marsh) at the west end of town. (Kell)

1898 Sanborn Map
1904 Sanborn Map
The current structure, 505 Front Street, corner of Front and Craven Streets, 
 is one of the most photographed in Beaufort.
Contemporary Photo Courtesy Lisa Margolis 
Contemporary Photo Courtesy Jeff Pettitt