Over 200 years later and a free Black Pittsboro man’s legacy lives on

Pittsboro, NC – Built in 1811 by a free Black man, the Lewis Freeman House was one of the first buildings in the town of Pittsboro, N.C. Still standing today, it witnessed the horrors of the Civil War. During the Great Depression in the 1930’s, its brick fireplace kept its occupants warm. In the 1960’s, the original wood door opened as the Civil Rights Movement spread across the country.

Now, thanks to renovation and preservation work done by current owner and architect Grimsley Hobbs, the house has witnessed the global Covid-19 pandemic.

It is one of only four remaining dwellings from Pittsboro’s initial settlement in the early 19th century and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The man behind it all, Lewis Freeman, was not only memorable because he was a free Black man in a society where slavery was the law, but also because he was a prominent figure in the area and owned a significant amount of land.

Freeman’s exact trade is unknown, but he had money. He bought his wife and children’s freedom, built his house and owned at least 20 acres of land.

Mary Nettles, president of the Chatham County community branch of the NAACP, has been researching Freeman’s past and ties to Chatham County.

Although there were some free Black men living in the area at the time, she said, it would have been rare for a Black man to own that much land and real estate.

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(Chatham Journal Newspaper, 3/29/21)