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The Ambitious Young Carpenter

The Ambitious Young Carpenter

(p.13) Chapter One The Ambitious Young Carpenter
The Architecture of William Nichols
Paul Hardin KappTodd SandersWilliam Seale
University Press of Mississippi

This chapter begins within the historical context of Post-Revolutionary North Carolina. A brief biography of the young William Nichols is then explored. Nichols was born in Bath, England circa 1780 into a family of carpenters, joiners, and cabinetmakers that included Samuel Nichols, a surveyor for the city of Bath who became a carpenter and builder. Once in the United States, Nichols presented himself confidently as more than a builder or a skilled carpenter, but rather as a purveyor of sophisticated living; he aspired to be the expert of a “cultured craft” that he brought with him from his native England. Before he was thirty years old, and with little if any formal education, he brazenly called himself an architect with nothing more than a journeyman’s knowledge and pattern books of the era. The remainder of the chapter details Nichols’s early work on the North Carolina coast, beginning with his arrival in New Bern in 1800, his small-scale designs such as the portico for the New Bern Academy, and his remodeling design for St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Edenton.

Keywords:   Bath, England, New Bern, North Carolina, Edenton, North Carolina

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