This large and well-appointed outbuilding is the sole surviving building associated with the estate of Rufus Sylvester Tucker (1829-1894), a wealthy Raleigh merchant. Tucker was one of the most influential men in 19th-century Raleigh. A former Confederate army officer, he became a director of two regional railroads and was director of banks in Raleigh and New Bern. In addition to a large dry goods business, he also managed extensive real estate holdings in Raleigh, and owned major farming and cattle operations in Wake County. Among his properties was a two-acre tract on the western edge of the community, opposite St. Mary’s School. In 1858, Tucker commissioned William Percival, architect of nearby Montfort Hall and several other notable Raleigh buildings, to design a sprawling Italianate mansion as the centerpiece of his estate.
The carriage house was built some time after the construction of the mansion. The exact date of construction is not known, and while it does not appear on local maps until 1909, evidence suggests a considerably earlier construction date. The account books of Thomas Briggs, contractor for the building, record Tucker buying materials for a “wagon shed” as early as 1883. Architecturally, the building’s shingled second story, patterned slate roof and related detailing relate it to late 19th-century Shingle Style construction. The first floor of the building originally contained stables for horses and mules, sheltered wagons and, later, automobiles. The large second and third floors imply use as additional storage for goods associated with Tucker’s retail business.
The estate remained in the Tucker family into the early 20th century, when it was purchased by Dr. James M. Rogers, a prominent Raleigh physician and real estate owner. About 1940, several parts of the horse stalls were removed by Dr. Rogers’s daughter, Mrs. Norman E. Edgerton, and installed at stables at her own estate, Tatton Hall, on Oberlin Road. The Tucker mansion was later converted into six apartments, but suffered sufficient neglect that the building was abandoned by the mid-1960s. It was razed in 1967, and its site eventually used to construct high-rise housing for the elderly. By the early 1980s, the deteriorating carriage house was also threatened with demolition. However, through the efforts of a coalition of public and private agencies, a plan for its preservation was developed. Today the building has been fully renovated as studio and classroom space for a local arts organization and is a testimony to successful adaptive reuse.
The Tucker Carriage House, a designated Raleigh Historic Landmark, is located at 114 St. Mary’s St. It is open for the classes and other activities of Arts Together. For further information call 919-828-1713 or visit the Arts Together website.
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