1815 Utzman-Chambers House

  • Posted: Sunday, October 6, 2013 12:01 a.m.

116 S. Jackson St.

One of the finest Federal townhouses surviving today in North Carolina, this house was built for Lewis Utzman, a cabinetmaker, and reflects the lifestyle of the more affluent citizens of the 1800s.

Jacob Stirewalt, a master builder of the period, constructed the house which features a unique carved staircase, based on one found in Owen Biddle’s “The Young Carpenter’s Assistant,” which was published in 1810.

The staircase, with a hand carved and graduated “tulip & scroll” design, winds in a beautiful curve from the first floor to the third floor attic.

Around 1819, Utzman sold the house to Judge James Martin. The house was sold to Maxwell Chambers in 1847 and later used as a manse by the First Presbyterian Church until 1913. Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps show that by November 1913, the house had been moved and rotated from its original location, facing Innes Street, where the two-story brick manse now stands.

The rear façade was modified by the addition of a one-story wing, and originally had a full-length shed porch, similar to the one on the front of the house.

Note that the level of ornamentation on the left (south) side of the house is more detailed than the right (north) gable.

This is due to the fact that the left side once faced Jackson Street, before the house was moved in 1913.

The first floor plan features a side hall and parlor, with two smaller rooms behind.

Stirewalt’s sweeping staircase curves along the back wall. The second floor features four rooms and a small hallway, which serves as a landing for the staircase as it continues to the attic.

The house has three interior end chimneys and an elaborate three-part Federal carved mantle.

The Utzman-Chambers House property is owned by the Maxwell Chambers Trust and the house museum is operated by the Rowan Museum, which celebrates its 60th Anniversary this year.

The structure served as the museum’s first location and is open for tours on Saturday afternoons from April through November.

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