The Latimer House in Wilmington, NC is a rare glimpse into the life of a wealthy merchant and his family one-hundred and sixty years ago. It is one of the few area historical homes decorated with original furniture and art. The guided tours of the home and its grounds provide an authentic exploration into Wilmington’s history and offers an intimate glimpse into the life of this family in the mid-1800s.
Zebulon Latimer built the house on 126 South Third St for his wife Elizabeth Savage Latimer in 1852 when the Wilmington waterfront was a booming economy of new trade opportunities. As a prominent family in the city, the Latimer House was decorated to reflect its stature in the community with many ornate and curious pieces of furniture and art.
Unlike the Burgwin-Wright House and the Bellamy Mansion, the Latimer House remained in the homeowner’s family until being sold to the Lower Cape Fear Historical Society (LCFHS), Inc. in 1963. LCFHS is an organization committed to the preservation and study of history in the Lower Cape Fear region, ensuring that the integrity of the home as a place of historical interest is maintained.
Despite the grandiosity of the house and its trappings, it was also home to tragedy. The house stayed in the family despite five of Zebulon and Elizabeth’s nine children dying young. The family owned slaves. Inside the house is a cramped and steep staircase used to move between the floors. The slave quarters, a squat brick building, stands separate from the main house on the edge of a garden.
The tours conducted by LCFHS are worth it for anyone with a curiosity about the past. Tickets are free for children under 5 years old and range from $6 to $12. The Latimer House also hosts annual events and takes part in the Old Wilmington by Candlelight. For more information about the Latimer House or other LCFHS events, visit their website: https://www.lcfhs.org/