Built in 1882, the Hawkins-Hartness House is rich with local history. The house was originally built for Alexander B. Hawkins and his wife. The only other family that occupied the house for a significant period of time was the Hartness family, James A. Hartness and Annie Hartness. James Hartness was North Carolina's Secretary of State for three years. In 1969, the state of North Carolina acquired the house and has used it as offices ever since. Currently, the Hawkins-Hartness House is home to the Office of the Lieutenant Governor.
The Hawkins-Hartness House was
built in 1882. Dr. Alexander B. Hawkins purchased the frame house that once
stood on Raleigh city lot 267 in October of 1881 because his wife had been fond
of it. Mr. and Mrs. Hawkins returned to Florida but asked Dr. Hawkins’s
brother, Dr. William J. Hawkins, to have the house renovated while they were
away. Upon their return, however, Mr. and Mrs. Hawkins discovered that William
had removed the frame house and had replaced it with a house of his own design.
According to legend, Mrs. Hawkins had the verandah added in order to lessen the
severity of the house’s exterior. Mr. and Mrs. Hawkins lived in the house for
the rest of their lives.
One of the most interesting
features of the old Hawkins-Hartness House was the water system that Dr.
Hawkins had installed. In the late 1800s, Raleigh did not yet have a city-wide
water system, so Dr. Hawkins installed a windmill to pump well water into the
attic to use for utilities. He also erected a 6,000 gallon rainwater cistern in
the north garden for use as drinking water. Dr. Hawkins shared this drinking water
with the governor’s mansion, regardless of who was in office. Thus the
Hawkins-Hartness House had close ties to the governorship in the late 1800s as
it does today.
The Hawkins-Hartness House changed
hands a few times in the early 20th century. Dr. Hawkins conveyed the house to
his sister-in-law, Martha H. Bailey, who had been living with Mr. and Mrs.
Hawkins for quite some time. In 1922, Miss Bailey sold the house to William and
Sadie Erwin. However, the Erwins never lived in the house. They sold the house
in 1928 to James and Annie Hartness. James A. Hartness was the North Carolina
Secretary of State from 1929-1931. Mr. and Mrs. Hartness lived in the house for
the rest of their lives.
Upon Mrs. Hartness’s death in 1969,
the state of North Carolina acquired the Hawkins-Hartness House. The house was
converted into offices, which were first used by the State Department of Local
Affairs. It was also used by the Department of Historical Preservation for a
time. In 1988, the Hawkins-Hartness House became the office of the lieutenant
governor, and it has served this purpose ever since.
In 2013, the Hawkins-Hartness House
received a much needed face-lift. Newly elected Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest,
an architect by trade, undertook a large scale renovation to restore the
Victorian to her former glory. Mr. Forest secured donations from several local
businesses to complete the six month renovation at no cost to the State. The
history of the house was preserved as much as possible. For example, the
original dining room table is still in use now as a conference table. However,
some contemporary-style furniture has been put into use upstairs making this
unique house even more eclectic.
The Hawkins-Hartness House is
listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a designated Raleigh
Historic Landmark. Visitors are welcome to tour the home and are encouraged to
call ahead to schedule a time.