Street View

Recently I was able to tour The Harvey Mansion in New Bern, NC whilst in mid-construction for its latest revival.

The Harvey Mansion was built in 1810 by a merchant named John Harvey. He and his wife, Mary, lived on one side while John Harvey ran a warehouse distribution business on the other side. At the time it was built there were only three other buildings built with brick, all other homes and businesses of the time were built with wood. Harvey knew that the house would succumb to hurricanes and he wanted to make sure the structure survived.

Survive it has! Since the building was first erected the structure has been host to numerous boarding houses, a barracks for military men during wars, and even a technical college. Recently it has been a bed and breakfast, restaurant and the basement has a speakeasy-style bar. In its most recent revival, the plan is a bar in the basement, the first floor will be kitchens while the second and third levels will have eight swanky rooms available for short stays.

I was a patron of the bar a few owners ago when I heard the men’s bathroom door slam 3 times in quick succession. When I asked the bartender to go investigate (that side of the bar had been completely empty when I first walked in, my friends had hung back to order their drinks) we opened the door together to see toilet paper strewn all over the bathroom. The terror on the young guy’s face proved to me that he had experienced other events too! No one had been there to slam the door (it rattled the walls it was so aggressive!) and he wouldn’t have trashed a bathroom he’d have to clean up.

There has been a “white lady in 18th-century style clothing” spotted by restaurant patrons through the 80s and 90s. Everyone assumed it was Mary Harvey checking up on the business happenings of the household, much like she had done in life. A man said that while eating dinner he witnessed a ceramic figurine get pushed off a mantle sending it a few feet in the air landing on an unsuspecting toddler’s head. The man said that he was just as startled as the child because he knew no one was over there while the item took flight.

I briefly dated a bartender that worked in the basement bar and he said it wasn’t uncommon to come in for a shift and find all the barstools stacked haphazardly in a corner. If you removed one piece of furniture the whole stack would come tumbling down. He also said he felt like he was being watched any time he was alone while working.

There had been numerous reports of people’s drinks being tipped over or “launched across the room” by a ghastly hand in the basement bar. Although the bar had plenty of witnesses to the incidents no one present could explain how such things could happen.

I know these pictures aren’t the greatest but I tried to stay focused on the original parts of the house. The building has sat vacant since being flooded in 2018 during Florence and the new owners had to do a lot of work to get to where it is pictured. The entire house has been gutted to be reworked for the rentable rooms to have brand new indoor bathrooms for each room. Previously there was only a bathroom to be shared amongst those that stayed. A lot of historical charm will be retained as they work closely with the local historical society at every step.

Check out each picture for a caption to why/where the picture was taken.

The white chipped paint is assumed to be the original ceiling of the middle “breeze way” area that separates the residential and commercial sides of the building.

A hand-carved face in one of the fireplaces in the first-floor parlor room. Probably used by Mary Harvey for afternoon tea.

The folding window covers are original to the house.

A fireplace in the ball room. The workmanship is said to be by Robert Hay, who did a lot of the ornate wood work at Tryon Palace and was one of the best carpenters of the era.
There is horsehair used on the plaster in the walls. Very common for that era.
Original brick that they freed from the wall to cut a doorway to one of the new bathrooms being installed.
This is the window looking out of John Harvey’s office. In his day, the convention center to the left and the building to the right wouldn’t have existed. He owned the entire wharf and could watch for his shipments arriving. He had a boat called the Tillman.
This picture was taken in basically no light in the attic so the flash made everything washed out. I have marked where a very large railroad spike was used to hold stabilizing boards together. All original to the house.
Looking down from the attic, the large beams are all original to the house.
That thick brick wall would have been considered an outside wall because on the other side was the breeze way for carriages for loading and unloading shipments of items. The wall is seriously thick.
The ghost emoji is hiding the owner’s daughter that walked into the frame as I snapped the picture of the original staircase leading up to the residential side of the building. Take note of the 🌊 detail going up the base of the stairs. Many guests have gone up these stairs to the ballroom on the second floor.
Exposed brick and inner wall.
This is an original arch that was once an entrance for the breezeway for carriages. The rounded top was magical architecture of the time. In historical documents, it is said that one arch had been closed up by the 1940s and only this one remains, on the parking lot side of the building.
A closer look at the sunburst design on the window.
This is the window I usually hover at from the other side on the sidewalk. Months ago I would slowly walk by and you could hear dripping noises from the ceiling. Turns out, a heat pipe had exploded during its neglect and dropped down three stories of the building into the dark abandoned basement. The basement had been closed up after Florence. The owners said there was broken beer and whole kegs that had just been left. Like boozy patrons were mid-party during a busy weekend night before they evaded the rising waters never to return.
The same round window but farther away. The windows are original boat windows from some sea vessel. They aren’t original to the house but the two on this wall have been there for at least fifty or so years.

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