Maxwell Chambers House
National Register of Historic Places Rowan County, NC
Building, Private, Occupied, Restricted
116 South Jackson Street
Owner of Property:
Trustees of First Presbyterian Church
308 West Fisher Street
Location of Legal Description:
Rowan County Courthouse
102 North Main Street
The Maxwell Chambers House is an interesting two-story frame town house showing several of the stylistic characteristics peculiar to the note local architect and builder, Jacob Stirewalt. It is covered with weather boards and has three interior end chimneys, two located at the north end an one to the rear of the south end. The east (main) facade is three bays wide with flush siding under a one-story shed porch that extends the length of the facade. The porch has fluted Doric columns and a balustrade consisting of a molded handrail and simple balusters square in section. Each bay under the porch is divided by fluted pilasters. The main entrance, in the left bay, has flat-paneled reveals and a flat-paneled double door. The remaining bays under the porch and those in the second story contain large windows with six-over-six sash. The molded cornice is quite delicate, featuring a Wall of Troy motif.
The house, which now faces east, originally presented its south gable end to Jackson Street. It was moved several hundred feet down that street from the intersection with Innes Street. This explains the elaborate detail on the south side. The two-bay south gable end, pedimented by the extension of the main cornice, features in the flush-sided tympanum a central roundhead window with geometric tracery. Surrounding the arch is a molded architrave with a small keystone. The window is framed by fluted pilasters supporting an open pediment accented by dentils. The south end of the front porch is adorned by a dentil cornice. In contrast, the north side of the house is treated in a less elaborate fashion. Though it is pedimented, the tympanum contains only a plain rectangular window with six-over-six sash and the porch has no side cornice.
The rear facade has been altered by the addition of a one-story wing perpendicular to the main block. Originally this facade featured a full-length shed porch similar to that on the front. The south portion of the porch remains, and a newer one has been constructed on the south side of the addition.
Although not seen outside, the work of Stirewalt is readily apparent 0 the interior of the Maxwell Chambers House. The plan consists of a hall an parlor with two smaller rooms beyond. The hall is dominated by one of the well-executed curving stairs for which Stirewalt is best known. It rises from the left side of the hall and winds across the rear wall. It has a rounded handrail, balusters square in section, a scroll newel, and the characteristic Stirewalt tulip brackets, which he appears to have copied from Owen Biddle’s Young Carpenter’s Assistant, published in 1810.
The main (northeast) parlor, like the hall, has walls plastered above an unpaneled wainscot with a dado composed of two wide horizontal boards. This room is the most elaborately finished in the house with a heavy plaster cornice consisting of a narrow foliated border, a wide grapevine band, and an egg-and-dart molding. Beneath each window is a flat panel framed by an extension of the window architrave and the baseboard. The most impressive feature of the parlor is the fine Stirewalt mantel. Essentially it is a three-part Federal mantel with fluted colonnettes supporting a dentil cornice shelf. Its unusual ornamentation, consisting of small urns on the end blocks and a large oval panel with radiating foliage carved in high relief in the center tablet, is the perfect embodiment of Stirewalt's style, if not actually the work of his own hand.
Each of the two smaller rooms on the rear contains a simple Federal mantel and walls plastered above a wainscot similar to that in the parlor. The southwest room, slightly more elaborate, has flat panels below the windows.
The room arrangement on the second floor is most unusual. It consists of four rooms, with the two rooms on the south side divided by a narrow stairwell and hall. The hall serves as a landing for the winding stair that continues to the attic. The stairwell is divided from the hall by a wide semi circular arch, which springs from molded imposts supported by acanthus console light is provided for the area by the large round-headed window in the south gable of the attic. The window is framed by a molded architrave and fluted pilasters. In the center of the stairwell ceiling is a large plaster medallion featuring radiating veined acanthus leaves encircled by a border of bellflower The largest (northeast) bedroom has walls plastered above a plain wainscot with a flat panel under each window and a heavy reeded plaster cornice. The mantel is adorned with a row of dentils below the molded shelf and has plain end blocks supported by reeded pilasters. The other rooms are similarly finished.
19th Century, Architecture
Major Bibliographic References:
Carolina Watchman. March 5, 1836
Latitude: 35 degrees, 40 minutes, 08 seconds
Longitude: 80 degrees, 28 minutes, 22 seconds
Approximate acreage: 1/2 Acre
Form Prepared By:
Survey and Planning Unit
John B. Wells, III, Supervisor
State Department of Archives and History
109 East Jones Street
June 8, 1971
State Liaison Officer Certification:
H.G. Jones, Director
State Department of Archives & History
June 8, 1971