William T. Smith House
- 4,073 square feet
- Lot Size: 2 acres / Zoning: Residential
Cathleen Turner, Regional Director
Preservation NC, Piedmont Office
ARCHITECTURAL DREAM STEEPED IN HISTORY! Stately 1835 Federal house with exquisite woodwork once served as a Civil War field hospital. Rural two-acre setting belies its close proximity to Fayetteville, Research Triangle, and RDU International Airport in the 5th most populated county in North Carolina.
Virtual Tour available here.
The William T. Smith House is one of three Smith family plantations that all served as field hospitals during the 1865 Battle of Averasboro. The substantial 4,000+ square foot house features numerous high-style architectural elements. The exquisite woodwork throughout is an architectural lover’s dream. The house requires complete rehabilitation, but qualifies for historic preservation tax credits. Excellent location minutes from I-95 provides the best of rural living with city amenities close-by. Nearby access to the Cape Fear River Trail offers exceptional water-related outdoor activities.
Architectural and Historical Information
In a rural pocket at the Cumberland-Harnett county line once known as Smithville, three Smith family plantations still remain: Oak Grove (1789) in the center; Lebanon (1824) to the north; and the William T. Smith House (1835) to the south. The Battle of Averasboro occurred in this community of Smithville, a strategic location because of its setting between the Cape Fear River and the Black River. All three houses were used as field hospitals during the battle. This impressive house was built for William Turner Smith (1810-1855) and his wife Mary Campbell Smith (1814-1886) around 1835 shortly after their marriage.
Extensive archaeological studies have revealed the rich architectural history of this elegant home. The floor plan retains its Federal two-over-two-room hall-and-parlor plan. The interior is a feast for your eyes with its exquisite woodwork including Federal and Greek Revival mantels, extensive paneled wainscot with crotch mahogany faux finish, winder stair with Chinese Chippendale railing, paneled doors with original hardware, bold door and window moldings, and antique built-in cabinets. They just don’t build them like this anymore!
On the exterior, the two-story, single-pile frame house with a side-gable asphalt shingle roof is flanked by two large Flemish bond chimneys with diamond-pattern brickwork. The east chimney sadly collapsed in September 2018 as a result of Hurricane Florence, but PNC is in the process of reconstructing it to its former appearance by using old photos. A two-story pedimented portico dominates the front façade and is accented by a decorative sheaf-of-wheat balustrade. The striking first floor entrance is marked by the unusual two-door configuration, each door capped with a wide two-light transom. A wide fluted pilaster door surround adorns the entrance. The central entrance on the second floor is flanked by sidelights and a transom. Fluted pilasters on either side further accent the porch bay. A substantial Greek Revival two-story wing with a two-story side porch was added to the rear just prior to Smith’s death in 1855.
Renovation Work Needed
Though it retains its historic form and much of its excellent early woodwork, the William T. Smith House has undergone some alterations including the installation of replacement windows (the original windows were 9-over-9 sash), and enclosure of the two-story rear wing porch. PNC is in the process of reconstructing the east chimney to its former appearance.
Some structural work has been performed including restoration of siding, and construction of 22 additional foundation piers. The house requires complete rehabilitation including some remaining foundation repairs, restoration of key architectural features and form, installation of mechanical systems, bathrooms, and a kitchen, and restoration of the front porch. Located just inside the southern boundary of the Averasboro Battlefield Historic District, it qualifies for historic preservation tax credits.
Located in Cumberland County in the town of Averasboro, the historic town’s landscape retains its rural character: vast fields give way to thick forests, shallow and deep ravines, and meandering creeks. And yet, its close proximity to nearby Campbell University and the City of Fayetteville provides plenty of city amenities. Just minutes from I-95, it is an hour’s drive to the Research Triangle area and RDU Airport.
Close to the Cape Fear River, nearby access to the Cape Fear River Trail offers exceptional water-related outdoor activities. Also located within a few miles of the William T. Smith House are the other two restored Smith family plantations (privately owned), a Civil War museum and cemetery, and several monuments. Legend has it that this former port town might have become the capital of North Carolina, with the measure failing by just one vote.