The gorgeous antebellum Bellamy Mansion is my next choice for Historic Home Wednesday. The Bellamy Mansion was built between 1858 and 1861. It's located in the heart of Wilmington, North Carolina.I love the design of this fabulous house. I can just see the men and women sitting on the porch sipping their mint juleps on a hot summer afternoon.
Let's get down to the history of this little Southern jewel. The house was owned by Dr. John D. Bellamy, not only a physician but also a businessman. John Bellamy inherited a large piece of his father's plantation in South Carolina. However, he moved to Wilmington, North Carolina, to study medicine. He worked in medicine along side of Dr. William J. Harriss. After graduating from Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he married Dr. Harriss eldest daughter, Eliza.
Dr. Bellamy took over his father-in-law's successful medical practice after his death. By 1860 the Bellamy family, included eight children, prepared to move into the mansion. This family surely knew how to throw a party as they hosted a grand house warming event. It was the event of the year in Wilmington and definitely the talk of the town. It's sad to hear that the excitement of the newly constructed home was short lived as only two months later, North Carolina seceded from the Union. Dr. Bellamy would take honor of heading the welcoming committee as Jefferson Davis visited Wilmington that Spring.
Two of Dr. Bellamy's sons joined the Confederacy. Not only their lives were in danger as they fought the Union troops but the family's lives would also be in jeopardy. During the war the deadly outbreak of yellow fever begun to spread throughout Wilmington so the Bellamy family took refuge at Grovely Plantation. Seeking safety from the disease they risked personal safety as they would have to return to Bellamy Mansion soon after their arrival to Grovely. Union ships began bombarding nearby Fort Fisher and the decision of facing yellow fever was considered the less of two evils. However, they soon learned that Fort Fisher had fallen to the Union and Wilmington would become the last major port to supply the South. This making the situation worse as the Yankees would be making Wilmington their next target.
As the Union arrived in Wilmington they seized control over the Bellamy Mansion. They took their land, buildings, and homes away from the Bellamy family. General Hawley, and his troops, occupied the mansion. He also refused Dr. Bellamy entry into Wilmington. Taking a big risk, Mrs. Bellamy traveled to her own house to meet Mrs. Hawley, who began living at the residence with her husband (the General), in hopes to retrieve her property back. Can you imagine how difficult that must have been to be entertained by a "Yankee" in your own home!!! I wonder if they served her tea with her very own china. I would have been spitting mad if that were me. I applaud Mrs. Wilmington for her self control during that less than fortunate event. Thankfully for President Andrew Jackson the Bellamy family would once again live in their beautiful house. President Jackson personally saw that the Bellamy family reclaimed their property back.
Life would slowly return to normal after the war. Dr. Bellamy would return to his medical practice and raise his family. Mrs. Bellamy worked on the house after those "Yankee's" occupied it and decided to enclose the property with a beautiful black iron fence. I don't blame her, I would be thinking an electrical fence after I'd been through what she had. Their children would follow in their father's footsteps and lead successful careers in law and medicine. Only one of four daughters would marry and have children. However, the Bellamy's had over 30 grandchildren.
The last Bellamy to live in the mansion as a private residence was Ellen Bellamy, she died in 1946.It's hard to believe by looking at the house that it sustained a horrific fire. A arsonist set fire to the home during preservation efforts in 1972 (someone would have to be pretty sick to want to destroy a historical home like this one). Thankfully she has been fully restored and now functions as a museum for all those who appreciate and admire historical architecture.