Thursday, June 6, 2019

Hidden in plain sight

or how an unidentified flea market find revealed a great Riverside house

Richard W. Davis House, 82 Griffith Street, photo ca. 1905.

by John B. Green III

When this photograph was acquired locally for the library's collections in 1985, it bore no identifying inscriptions or photographer's marks.  It was believed to be a New Bern photograph, it felt like a New Bern photograph, and it was cheaply priced, but those were about the only reasons we had for acquiring it. 

The photograph shows a late 19th century or early 20th century Queen Anne-style house with a large open area or field beside and behind it and other houses and structures in the distance.  If it were a view of New Bern it was probably taken in Riverside, the city's first major suburb.  Riverside was laid out in 1894 north of town and along the Neuse River by William Dunn. Originally agricultural land known as Dunn's Fields, the development was expanded further north in 1912.  Riverside had houses of this vintage in its earliest section.   A quick check of the first blocks of National Avenue and North Pasteur streets revealed no such house but turning up North Craven Street (formerly Griffith Street) disclosed the subject of the photograph hiding demurely behind a large tree.

Richard W. Davis, ship's engineer, is believed to have had the house built shortly after he acquired parts of lots 89 and 90 from William Dunn in 1903.  Although its porch posts and balustrades have been replaced, it has otherwise survived in good condition.  A recent photo of the house located at 1005 North Craven Street (originally named and numbered 82 Griffith Street) appears below.

Present-day view of the Richard W. Davis House,
1005 North Craven Street (formerly 82 Griffith Street)
Photo by the author