The North Carolina
“This small, frame, plantation house on the northeastern side of the Cape Fear River presents a striking example of a regional form, with engaged double porches on land and water facades and a partially enclosed exterior stair rising between the landside porches. Here, in a rare survival, the exterior stair provides the only connection between first and second stories. The interior is simply finished and has a hall-parlor plan, later partitioned to create a center passage.,,,
“Restored as a local historic site after years of neglect, the house stands on a tract that extends down to the river.”
*taken directly from A GUIDE TO HISTORIC ARCHITECTURE OF EASTERN NORTH CAROLINA by Catherine W. Bishir and Michael T Southern. Page 422.
UNC Press, c1006.
This historic house was built by Col James Richardson of
As a merchant, he and his brothers owned several vessels with which they carried on trade between
of the interest in Harmony Hall and its owners, the Richardson’s, stems
from James’s service in the American Revolution and the stories of
Cornwallis commandeering the house. According to family archives, found in RECORD OF THE RICHARDSON FAMILY,
hearing remarks from Cornwallis’ room that “there were spies around,”
Mrs. Richardson crept up the stairs to the attic in her stocking feet
and listened to Cornwallis’ plans for his next battle. “Awed
and frightened at what she heard, she crept down the stairway to her
room, locked herself in, and there by the bedside of her sleeping babes
she wrote it all to her husband in
The next morning after breakfast the British officers missed the young superintendent and asked his whereabouts. Mrs. Richardson told them he had been summoned to the bedside of his dying mother and would be gone for a week or ten days. They seemed satisfied with her explanation.
Another source, ANGELS IN DREAM BRING FORTUNE TO AUNT ELLEN, by E. P Holmes, tells a more unbelievable version of the same story. According
to it, the message was given to a slave, Junius, who left on horseback
near midnight and arrived in the Santee Cooper section of
Neither of the above stories can be documented, and that is why we call it the Cornwallis legend. However, it is documented that Cornwallis and James Webster came down the
James Richardson served in the Bladen Militia during the Revolution with the likes of Thomas Brown, Thomas Robeson and Peter Robeson. According to the RECORD OF THE RICHARDSON FAMILY, his two long pistols and two swords that he carried were kept in a trunk in the attic, and his male descendents for a couple of generations played with them.
The house has a fireplace in every room, and one original fireplace and one original mantle have survived to this day. All of the doors are six panel ones with HL hinges. An article in THE STATE, dated November 12, 1938, says that this kind of doors and hinges were common in prominent colonial homes for the purpose of keeping the witches away. Maybe those panels and hinges have protected the house during the 250 years it has stood….though hurricanes, floods and neglect.
Three generations of
Presently, there is an entrance hall with a guest register and the
If you are interested in seeing the house, check out our website at www.harmonyhallnc.com or call 910-866-4844. We don’t have an entrance fee but certainly welcome donations. We also answer email inquiries.