Cupola House

Written By Dr. Troy L. Kickler

During the mid-1700s, Edenton served as a major port, and Robert Carteret, the last of the Lords Proprietors and the Earl of Granville, requested that a grand house be designed for governmental business, including tax collection.  In 1758 Francis Corbin constructed the Cupola House for this purpose.  In 1777, during the beginning stages of the American Revolution, Dr. Samuel Dickinson purchased the house (his wife signed the Edenton Tea Party resolution).  Although the Dickinson family and its descendants occupied the house until 1918, a lack of money meant the house fell into disrepair.  As a result, a group of citizens formed The Cupola House Library and Museum, now known as the Cupola House Association (CHA), and bought the dilapidated house to preserve its unusual architecture.

The architecture displays the wealth of the colony during the mid-1700s.  Jacobean houses are rare in the South, yet the Cupola House’s majesty surpasses many Jacobean homes in the North.   Its unusual and ornate and intricate wainscotings are renowned.  Elaborate fireplace mantels and a barrel back dining room and carved stair handrails are only a few gems contained in the Cupola House.  It also contains portraits of Thomas and Penelope Barker, period furniture, and stemware from 1700s France.  In 1918 Tillie Bond, the last in the Dickinson family to own the house, sold the original woodwork of the first floor to the Brooklyn Museum of Art, where it can still be viewed. But under the care of the CHA the second floor has remained as it was in 1758 and the intricate woodwork of the first floor has been replaced in exacting detail.