Building History: Burgwin-Wright House

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — It’s a house that pre-dates the US. One Wilmington landmark traces its roots back to the Revolutionary War and beyond. The Burgwin-Wright House at 224 Market Street in Wilmington is this week’s edition of Building History.

“The history of this house goes all the way back to the 1740s, when it was a jail. It was the Wilmington City Jail on Market Street. When it burned down, it became just a foundation area with ballast stones, petrified whale bones, petrified coral. That is holding this house up today,” said Jackie Margoles, who manages the Burgwin-Wright House Museum.

“A gentleman named John Burgwin bought the property all the way to the Cape Fear River,” Margoles said. “The room is a spectacular parlor room that they would have entertained in. It’s kind of like your rec room. And they would have a piano forte, which is a beautiful instrument. They would have a singer come in and entertain, and they would have a card game. The card game was very interesting. There were no numbers and no letters on the cards, because King George had imposed a writing tax.”

It’s a grand house with gardens in bloom through most seasons. The Burgwin-Wright House has history that precedes this country.

“It has experienced the Revolutionary War with Cornwallis coming here after Guilford Courthouse, which was a tremendous battle there,” Margoles said. “This is a cauldron that Cornwallis and his men brought from Guilford Courthouse.

The house’s history continued in the Civil War as a holding hospital.

“The holding hospital held the poor soldiers that had marched out of Burgaw,” Margoles said. “They were starved. By the time they got into Wilmington they laid out most of the soldiers here, holding for the surgeon across the street at street St. James Church.”

There is a working kitchen from colonial times with all the comforts of home.

Margoles manages the house, but it is much more than a job.

“The best thing is meeting people from all over the world that come here, and sometimes native Wilmingtonians will surprise, which is fun,” she said. “It’s just a wonderful house to come and relax and spend an hour with us.”

If you want to find out more about the oldest museum house in southeastern North Carolina, the Burgwin-Wright House is open for tours.

If you know of a historic building with a story to tell let me know at

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