Garden History

The Burgwin-Wright House and Gardens occupy the original 1744 city jail lot where John Burgwin, a prominent merchant, planter, and Treasurer of the Colony, built his residence in 1770. The entire property encompasses an acre.

When the NSCDA-NC purchased the Burgwin-Wright House in 1937, the present-day orchard was not part of the property.

Photo of the Burgwin-Wright carriage house taken in 1938 dipping pool and heirloom rose garden of the Burgwin-Wright House
A brick carriage house (above, left) stood where today you will find the dipping pool and heirloom rose garden (above, right).
1938 photograph of Burgwin-Wright House slave quarters

A slave quarters of wood construction and a brick "necessary" (left) sat in what is now the location of the second-tier terrace garden.

Although restoration plans included saving both structures, the slave quarters was torn down in 1949 after it was badly damaged in a fire and the carriage house was destroyed by Hurricane Hazel in 1954.

In 1962, the NSCDA-NC hired Alden Hopkins, a renowned landscape architect from colonial Williamsburg, to create an 18th century style garden on the grounds.

Hopkins' designs included a parterre garden (below), the dipping pool area, a kitchen garden and a physic garden.

In 1967, the NC Society acquired the parcel where the orchard is located today, thereby restoring the property's 1770 footprint.

From 1744 to 1768, the property was the location of the city jail.  The present day orchard served as the jail yard, housing the gallows, whipping posts, and stocks. As part of the Burgwin residence, it served as the formal garden. In the late nineteenth century this piece was sold for commercial use. Initially, it housed two small shops fronting Market Street, and it became a used-car lot (below, left) in the 1940s.

A colleague of Alden Hopkins, Donald Parker, who also was a landscape architect from Colonial Williamsburg, supervised the installation of the orchard (pictured in its present configuration below, right). Sadly, Hopkins had passed away before the completion of the project.

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