Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Vanished New Bern, No. 3

a series of views of lost area buildings

By John B. Green III

The John R. Donnell House and Office

John R. Donnell House and Office, 712 Craven Street, photo c. 1965.
The John R. Donnell House was perhaps New Bern's finest residence of the Federal Period.   Constructed for Judge Donnell between 1816 and 1819, the house and adjacent law office displayed the handiwork of Asa King, New Bern's premier builder of that time.  The house was quadrupled in size by a three-story apartment building addition to the rear in the 1920s and throughout much of the 20th century was known as the Hughes Apartments.  A spectacular fire on January 24, 1970 destroyed the apartment house addition and damaged the original house.  The Donnell house was stripped of its fine architectural details and demolished following the fire.  Some of the interior woodwork was taken to Mobile, Alabama and used in the construction of a new home, while the front portico and other elements were taken to Charlotte.  The Donnell law office was moved intact to nearby Trent Woods.   After many years of storage, the Donnell House portico was returned to New Bern in April 1985 and is now displayed in the New Bern Academy Museum.