This is a well equipped kitchen from the early 1800’s complete with a bit of indoor plumbing. It is modern if you consider what a few miles west would get you. The West was still clearing land and the folks were living in sod houses in some prarie locations. This is the kitchen of Mrs Latimer whose husband was a merchant. Mr Latimer represented the companies who shipped goods in and out of the port at Wilmington, NC. Mrs. Latimer’s kitchen was one of the first with an indoor well. The kitchen help did not have to go outside and tote the water from the well. They could go just beyond this room and a well was located within another area of the kitchen.
The kitchen and dining room were in the basement of the house so it would stay as cool as possible. The summer is quite hot and muggy. Mrs Elizabeth Latimer did own slaves but she was a kind good hearted woman. She purchased an entire family of slaves after seeing them going up for auction. She was walking down by the port one day as a slave auction was being held. She knew that a family was about to be separated and sold to different owners. I believe it was a family of five. She ran home to tell her husband.
At the time, they were building the home featured in this post. It was to be her dream home and had so many fine details. Her husband said she could purchase the family if she gave up something being added to the house. She gave up crown molding which was a status symbol at the time. To this day, it is the only mansion in the area with no crown molding. Her slave family stayed with her and cried when she passed away. I love Mrs Latimer for her unselfish act of kindness and consider her a hero.
Just beyond the kitchen is the dining room. It is quite large and has a window on the soil level just under the front porch.There was a more formal dining area on the first floor.
The adopted family had their own home. I love that they were able to live together and make a respectable living. Mrs Latimer did not treat them as slaves and insisted they learn to read and write. She never missed her crown molding and wasn’t embarrassed when entertaining. I think the sum was $5,000. I can’t imagine what the cost of installation and materials would cost today.
Zebulon Latimer built his house in 1852. These historical markers are on the old homes and very informative. The original Wilmington was exactly one square mile. The merchants and sea captains lived in the finer homes toward the center of town.