Among the first grand residences built in Raleigh after the Civil War, the Heck-Andrews House set the tone for the subsequent development of North Blount Street as an enclave of the well-to-do. Industrialist Jonathan McGee Heck had the towering Second Empire house constructed for his wife Mattie in 1869 on what was then the edge of town. Heck was born in western Virginia in 1831. A Confederate officer early in the Civil War, he was captured but subsequently paroled. Heck then turned to manufacturing armaments for the Confederacy, an activity that seeded his fortune. After the war, Heck expanded his wealth through real estate sales and development. It was his wife, however, who pursued the purchase of the Blount Street lot.
During the war, Mattie Heck and her children had led a nomadic existence. In 1866, the family secured a plantation in Warren County, but rural life did not agree with Mrs. Heck. With the purchase of the one-acre lot in Raleigh, the capital city became the Hecks' permanent home. On July 22, 1869, Raleigh builders Wilson and Waddell were contracted to erect "a three story house, with tower, slate and french roof, all materials to be of the very best, and to be put up in the very best manner." The building's architect was G. S. H. Appleget, who also designed the Andrews-Duncan house just across North Street, and Shaw University's Estey Hall.
Life at the house was opulent and active. Photographs show the interior lavishly decorated in the style of the day, with heavy draperies, lace curtains, mahogany furniture and plush carpets. Eight of the Hecks' 12 children were born at the house. One daughter, Fannie, grew to national prominence as president of the Women's Missionary Union from 1890 until her death in 1915.
Jonathan Heck died in 1894. In 1916, Mattie Heck deeded the house to daughter Mattie Heck Boushall. In 1921, the house was acquired by prominent Raleigh attorney A. B. Andrews, Jr. who had grown up in the Andrews-Duncan house across the street. He is said to have bought the property for his wife, Helen, who sadly died before their move was completed. Andrews moved in nonetheless, frequently entertaining at the house, escorting guests to the top of the four-story tower to view the changing Raleigh skyline. After Andrews' death in 1946, the house experienced a period of decline. In 1987, the state government, which had acquired most of the other large residences on Blount Street as office space, secured controlling interest in the house. Stabilization measures have included complete refurbishment of the exterior. Plans are in development for the adaptive reuse of this designated Raleigh Historic Landmark.
The Heck-Andrews House is located at 309 N. Blount St. It is currently open for special events only.
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