Blandwood is one of the America’s great historic homes. It represents both the beginning of Romanticism in North Carolina and the ideals of progressive Governor John Motley Morehead that are illustrated through architecture, landscape, and decorative arts. The house is a prototype for the Italianate style, one of America’s most popular architectural genres of the nineteenth century. The museum features a collection of period furnishings and art, including key pieces original to the house.
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 Romantic Movement publication Architecture of Country Houses (1850), its occupants held substantial roles in the industrialization of the North Carolina in the nineteenth century.
Today, Blandwood is operated as a museum, and provides visitors with a remarkably thorough ensemble of mid-19th-century architecture, decorative arts, landscape paintings, and portraiture – much original the the property. Socially, the house museum presents an historical narrative of the upper-income family and the institution of slavery on which they were dependent to maintain their lifestyle. Nominated to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970, Blandwood was recognized by the United States Secretary of the Interior as a National Historic Landmark in 1988 based on its architectural contributions to American history.