Wilmington’s Bellamy Mansion offers new exhibit highlighting black architects

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – If you’ve been to a historical mansion or museum such as Wilmington’s Bellamy Mansion, you may know when it was built, but do you know who built it?

The profiles of many black architects who built estates like the Bellamy and dozens of others across North Carolina are now on display there.

The Bellamy recently welcomed a new exhibit called “We Built This”, a way to shine a light on so many black architects and builders who quite literally laid the foundation for some early estates and settlements in the state.

When asked “Why?”, weekend manager at the Bellamy, Aryn Turner spoke on the importance of the exhibit.

“To highlight the architects and the laborers and all the craftsmanship that went into building all these historic homes that we know about, because of their owners who are usually rich or high and mighty and powerful, but the craftsmanship and the laborers who built all these historic structures that we know and treasure so much, we really want to learn more about them.” said Turner.

Turner mentions names like William Gould, who was a plasterer who helped build the Bellamy Mansion, where his initials “WBG” have been found some places in the mansion.

“We have profiles on individuals who worked here Wilmington, who worked here on the Bellamy, William Gould, he did a lot of the plaster work and a lot of the craftsmanship that went into this building. We have profiles on him and a lot of other individuals who’ve built buildings in Raleigh, Asheville, all throughout the state.”

The exhibit shows off the black architects who wouldn’t have gotten much credit for their work when it was complete. Turner says they did searching for all people involved with these projects.

“I think that we’ve been trying to do a lot of research in previous years into the people who are less well known, but who made these structures, what they are and who, what we what we cherish and know. So we’ve personally here at the Bellamy we did a lot of research into the people who lived here, not just the family, the enslaved members, the domestic workers later on.”

Turner also says it feels good to finally tell the stories of these men and women.

“That’s really nice to see here from a historical standpoint and from an architectural standpoint to really know who was behind this and know their stories and have them on display here.”

The exhibit will be at the Bellamy Mansion Museum until November 4th. Tours are offered Mon-Sun from 10:00 am-4:00 pm.

Published: Jul. 31, 2022 at 6:09 PM EDT