Blandwood is one of the America’s great historic homes. It represents the ideals of progressive North Carolina Governor John Motley Morehead that are illustrated through a prototype for the Italianate style, one of America’s most popular architectural genres of the nineteenth century.
Constructed by Charles Bland on the crest of a hill on his wooded land, the earliest portions of the Bland’s Wood were completed around 1795. The two-story frame farmhouse was later acquired by Morehead, and subsequently expanded according to plans drawn by nationally renowned architect Alexander Jackson Davis of New York. Davis designed additions in the Tuscan Villa (Italianate) style that featured a central three-story tower, stucco walls, and a low roof line within a tripartite plan with flanking dependencies. Completed in 1846, it is considered the oldest standing example of Italianate architecture in the United States. Although the house and its grounds were showcased in Andrew Jackson Downing’s Architecture of Country Houses (1850), the house and its occupants held substantial roles in the industrialization of the North Carolina in the nineteenth century.
Ex-Governor Morehead, our late distinguished Chief Magistrate, resides in Greensboro’, and has, so far as our knowledge extends, the most elegant Residence of any private gentleman in the State, in which he dispences with open heart, liberal hand, and true North Carolina courtesy, the old-fashioned hospitality of his fathers. — The Raleigh Register, 1846
Today, Blandwood is operated as a museum, and provides visitors with a remarkably thorough ensemble of mid 19th-century decorative arts, architecture, portraiture, and landscape paintings, much of it original. The house museum illustrates the lifestyle of an upper-income family that was dependent on the institution of slavery to maintain their standard of living. Nominated to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970, it was recognized by the United States Secretary of the Interior as a National Historic Landmark in 1988.