The 1800’s Kitchen of Elizabeth Latimer

wilmington-2-084 Registered & Protected
This is a well equipped kitchen from the early 1800’s complete with a bit of indoor plumbing. It is modern if you consider what a few miles west would get you. The West was still clearing land and the folks were living in sod houses in some prarie locations. This is the kitchen of Mrs Latimer whose husband was a merchant. Mr Latimer represented the companies who shipped goods in and out of the port at Wilmington, NC. Mrs. Latimer’s kitchen was one of the first with an indoor well. The kitchen help did not have to go outside and tote the water from the well. They could go just beyond this room and a well was located within another area of the kitchen.

wilmington-2-083The kitchen and dining room were in the basement of the house so it would stay as cool as possible. The summer is quite hot and muggy. Mrs Elizabeth Latimer did own slaves but she was a kind good hearted woman. She purchased an entire family of slaves after seeing them going up for auction. She was walking down by the port one day as a slave auction was being held. She knew that a family was about to be separated and sold to different owners. I believe it was a family of five. She ran home to tell her husband.

At the time, they were building the home featured in this post. It was to be her dream home and had so many fine details. Her husband said she could purchase the family if she gave up something being added to the house. She gave up crown molding which was a status symbol at the time. To this day, it is the only mansion in the area with no crown molding. Her slave family stayed with her and cried when she passed away. I love Mrs Latimer for her unselfish act of kindness and consider her a hero.


Just beyond the kitchen is the dining room. It is quite large and has a window on the soil level just under the front porch.There was a more formal dining area on the first floor.


The adopted family had their own home. I love that they were able to live together and make a respectable living. Mrs Latimer did not treat them as slaves and insisted they learn to read and write. She never missed her crown molding and wasn’t embarrassed when entertaining. I think the sum was $5,000. I can’t imagine what the cost of installation and materials would cost today.

wilmington-2-086Zebulon Latimer built his house in 1852. These historical markers are on the old homes and very informative. The original Wilmington was exactly one square mile. The merchants and sea captains lived in the finer homes toward the center of town.


wilmington-2-038You can read more about the Latimer House at the Lower Cape Fear’s Historical Society’s Home page

6 Comments Add yours

  1. linda says:

    What a good-hearted woman she must have been. It can’t have been easy for her to buck the status quo. She was a brave woman.

    What a lovely home she had, even without the crown molding!
    Her love is evident all throughout the house. And she was very dainty and charming. She was of slight build and kind of glamorous. I’ll show a picture of her when we get to the clothes she wore.


  2. Lythrum says:

    That is a very interesting kitchen and story. It is interesting to me how people tried to fight back within the system to do the right thing.
    There is probably more to this story and how the families went on to be successful. The information in this story is what the tour guide told me about Mrs Latimer. I was enjoying every minute of being there and hearing it. I think Mrs Latimer had a strong backbone.


  3. Marnie says:

    What a great post. I love the old kitchen. Wouldn’t it be great to cook just one meal there to see what it was like?

    I had always heard it was strictly against the law for slaves to learn to read. I wonder.
    Wilmington was the main port for the transportation of goods and people to areas spread out as far as you could haul them. The interior areas had limited accessibility. Wilmington funneled activity through its ports. I can just imagine it was not nice to be down on the port exposed to the bad or worse. I’m sure Elizabeth Latimer saw much that made her nauseous. I’m glad she did something about it.

    I would like to cook on that stove just once. I would like to fix cornbread and stew.


  4. Philip says:

    I love old houses like this. I love that huge fireplace in the kitchen and the old whitewashed plaster walls. I am glad she kept the family together and freed them! Oh my goodness what a time!
    All the best,
    Me too, I’m glad she freed them. It makes it lots more fun to talk about. There are a million stories out there about the bad. Let’s celebrate how good she was in a time when it wasn’t popular to do what she did. She was brave and tender hearted.


  5. Phillip (UK) says:

    I love that kitchen and provided it had a micro-wave I would be very happy there. She sounds a lovely woman.
    She was truly a woman before her time. She held no prejudices thank goodness. I’ll be doing a series on her home and the small garden out back. You can tell she loved her home and all who came to visit.


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