Colonized in the 1720s, Wilmington prospered as an English settlement because of its location on the Cape Fear River. It grew into a busy port community with new residents flocking to the area from colonies throughout North Carolina and South Carolina.
For anyone curious about what it was like for the wealthy during this time, they can tour Burgwin-Wright House and Gardens. It is the only structure in Wilmington from the colonial era that is open to the public.
I am greeted by Darrien Baily, a young man with a big smile and friendly manner who makes me feel right at home in this mansion built in 1770.
A fine example of Georgian architecture, Baily explains the town home was built for the wealthy merchant and planter, John Burgwin. Baily takes me through the parlor, dining room, Burgwin’s office and library, and upstairs to several bedrooms. Room to room, he points out treasured 18th and 19th century antiques. He also explains the history of the Burgwin family and Thomas Grainger Wright who purchased the house in 1799.
After touring the inside of the home, he takes me outside to the freestanding kitchen with a massive hearth, taking up most of one wall, and period cooking utensils. “School children love to guess what these utensils were used for,” he says.
“The house was actually built on the foundation of a former city jail built around 1744,” he explains as I leave the kitchen where he shows me evidence of jail cells.
Even after the house tour, I have a lot more to explore. The property sets on an acre of land. The house is surrounded by a beautiful understated garden.
Wilmington is a historic treasure from its colonial beginnings through the centuries. Other houses open for tour include Bellamy Mansion Museum of History & Design, Poplar Grove Plantation and Latimer House Museum.Tags: Burgwin-Wright House and Gardens, history, North Carolina, Wilmington