Three historic Wilmington homes can be toured on one combination pass. The Burgwin-Wright House, Bellamy Mansion and Latimer House, within a few downtown blocks of each other, showcase the finer side of living in North Carolina's Port City.
From Charlotte, Wilmington is 203 miles. Driving time is about four hours, one way.
To see and do
The Burgwin-Wright House (224 Market St.) is one of the finest surviving examples of Georgian architecture from North Carolina's colonial period. Built in 1770, the house was the second home for shipping magnate and lawyer John Burgwin and his family.
A jail originally had been constructed on the site, and the ballast stones used in the jail walls provided the foundation for Burgwin's magnificent two-story home. Burgwin sold the residence to the Wright family in 1797; they owned it until 1869.
The mansion, set back on a slight rise facing Market Street, has a commanding appearance, with double piazzas at both the front and rear. All rooms display finely-detailed woodwork and showcase authentic period furnishings. Local tradition holds that the Burgwin-Wright house was used by Gen. Charles Cornwallis as his headquarters during the British occupation of Wilmington in 1781.
The Latimer House (126 S. Third St.) dates to 1852 and reflects the Victorian "Italianate" style. Built for prosperous businessman Zebulon Latimer and his family, it brims with original period furnishings and family heirlooms. One especially memorable piece is the huge Dresden urn displayed in the double parlor. The Latimer House has the distinction of being the first home in Wilmington to be wired for electric lights. The house-museum is also home to the Lower Cape Fear Historical Society.
The Bellamy Mansion (503 Market St.) was started in 1859 as the city residence for Dr. John Bellamy, his wife, and nine children. Much of the workmanship on the 22-room, 4-story structure was by Bellamy's slaves, some of whom were skilled carpenters, and by free black artisans. The house was completed in 1861, but the Bellamys left it only a year later, threatened by both an epidemic of yellow fever and the likelihood of Union invasion. (Federal troops didn't occupy Wilmington until March 1865.)
Guided tours begin with a orientation video in the visitor center, then you visit the main house. Front and side porches supported by massive Corinthian columns make the Bellamy Mansion appear even larger than it is.
Tours include the raised "daylight" basement, featuring the kitchen, butler's pantry, dining room, and children's dining room; the main floor (one double parlor with pocket doors, a smaller family parlor and the library) and the bedrooms on the second and third floors. You can climb the steps to the belvedere and enjoy the unique view it affords of historic Wilmington.