Robert Norfleet House – New Price!
- 3,895 square feet
- Lot Size: 2.21 acres / Zoning: Residential
The Robert Norfleet House, built in 1858, is one of seven antebellum, suburban villas built along Main Street beyond the Tarboro Town Common during a major economic “boom” period in the 1850’s.
Tarboro’s economy was thriving during this time with very large cotton crops being produced, and a thriving port and rail terminal had been established to transport goods from farther inland downriver where ocean-going vessels could ship goods worldwide.
Many of the original lots in the prosperous upland port town, incorporated in 1760, were already built upon by the late 1840’s. With the death in 1848 of Louis Wilson, owner of the large Grove Plantation established by General Thomas Blount, former plantation lands just west of the Town Common were able to be subdivided into large lots and tracts for suburban development on Tarboro’s outskirts. Local planters and prominent citizens, such as Robert Norfleet, introduced a new development concept to the area by building their imposing plantation homes in Tarboro on large, multi-acre lots as “suburban villas”, rather than out on more remote farm lands in the county.
Robert Norfleet, a prominent attorney and heir to family plantations, had completed the construction of his substantial house which he designed himself by 1858. It sat down a long lane facing the present Main Street. When built, the house had a decidedly Gothic Revival design. It was just one-story on an 8-foot raised basement, but 70 feet wide with very steeply pitched and bracketed rooflines. Around 1900, Norfleet’s son, Dr. L.E. Norfleet, added a full second story and created the quintessential Classical Revival mansion with tall Corinthian columns supporting a central, pedimented portico.
When the house was acquired by the family of the current owners in the late 1960’s, a major reconstruction was undertaken and based ironically on plans drawn by the original Robert Norfleet’s grandson, also Robert Norfleet, a licensed architect. The second story was removed, and the house was brought back approximately to its original scale as a tall, one-story raised cottage on a full basement. The restoration at that time recreated very accurately the massive Gothic chimneys from 1858, but altered some of the original Gothic features to emulate a low-country plantation house, while retaining its original recessed porch with Doric columns between projecting wings and an imposing hipped roof unifying the whole house.
The current house with its 3,700 square feet of living space is one of Tarboro’s most noted landmarks and sits on one of the best lots and finest, secluded locations in the town’s 45-block historic district. The recessed and elevated front porch and entrance are reached by graceful and sweeping exterior, curved brick steps. The front doorway, as well as the recessed front windows (which were originally jib doors), are capped with beautiful fanlights and refined, Italianate framing. Wood brackets adorn the exterior cornices.
During each phase of the house’s history, careful efforts were made by previous owners to protect the stunning first floor rooms. Those rooms today are remarkable with their elaborate plaster moldings, ceiling medallions, eleven-foot ceilings and original faux-paining. Across the front of the house are the three formal rooms, each with beautiful, carved Italian marble mantels and wide pine flooring. The entrance foyer is most remarkable with its massive scale and contains two monumental bookcases on each side of a central, wide marble mantle. The other two front rooms are also quite spacious, with one being a parlor and the other being a sumptuous dining room. These two formal rooms are separated from the larger central foyer by two hallways which traverse the depth of the house. Off the front parlor, with its white Italian marble mantel and original 1858 window cornices, is a beautiful sun room, accessible through very unusual jib windows.
The dining room has to be seen to be fully appreciated. The elaborate Gothic coffered ceiling, medallion and pierced plaster cornices are quite remarkable, with gilding applied by noted Tarboro painter, Edward Zoeller. The carved, pink Italian marble mantel is like no other in this region, as is the elaborate over-mantel mirror, which beautifully reflects the crystal chandelier.
Across the rear of the house are two large bedrooms, each with its own private bath, and a large kitchen. Off the kitchen is another sunroom or breakfast room with very nice views of the secluded garden area. At the rear of the northern hallway is a staircase to the second floor where there is another large bedroom and bath. Upstairs across the front of the house is a massive attic space with three dormer windows. This area with its wide flooring can be made into a sizable amount of additional living space, if desired.
There is also a full basement under the house which could be adapted to other usable spaces. The yard area, with two full acres in the middle of Tarboro, has the original 1858 smokehouse and a three-bay, detached garage.
Please visit our website at www.tarbororealty.com for additional information and pictures regarding this property.