The Stanly House, sometimes called the Stanly-Green House, on 502 Pollock Street at the corner of Hancock was built between 1848 and 1850 in a style that is termed “Renaissance Revival.” A weird phrase, right? Renaissance is rebirth, and revival is sort of the same. It’s an eclectic mix of past styles, and different details seem to leap out at each viewing.
There’s the Greek Revival portico on the street entrance on Pollock Street which is original, though slightly altered when merchant Thomas Green bought the house in 1886 and added the arched spandrels. There are the windows, which typical of Renaissance Revival style, get smaller floor by floor. The ones on the third floor are so small they’re termed “eyebrow windows,” while on the first floor the windows go about twelve feet floor to ceiling. And we can tell you that’s a real challenge when it comes to finding blinds to fit them. On almost every one of these windows on the first and third floors are gorgeous cast iron grilles, also original to the house. Then there’s the beautiful iron work fence which Green put in about 1900, and we’ve adopted into the design of some of our fabric as well as our logo. And something you can easily miss because it’s half-buried under a bush on the curb: a slab which is a stepping stone from the era when coaches not cars were the means of transportation on Pollock Street. The most notable recent feature is the modern sculpture in the garden, a collection of slightly twisted white marble arches and benches by Horace Farlowe, titled “Frank Toler’s Window.”
And that’s only on the outside. The inside is filled with dragons on tin wainscot, massive Ionic columns with intricate Tuscan antae, black marble fireplaces, enormous white gaslight chandeliers, pressed-tin coved and cornice ceilings, and more details like an elaborate jigsaw of a parquet floor which we’re only just now discovering as we renovate.
Exactly who the original owner Edward Stanly really was and what he did in the house is clouded in the past, and we’re gathering stories and researching to separate fact from fiction. It seems he owned both 502 Pollock and 301 Hancock which are still connected by an exterior door to an alley way, and he used the latter as his office, kitchen, and servants’ quarters. It may likely be that the Stanly House has never had a kitchen itself before the one we’re putting into the second floor. A few years after the house was built, Stanly became director of the Atlantic and North Carolina Railway and he ordered the tracks, which are still used today, to go right down Hancock Street in front of his house and office. A plaque on the outside wall refers to Stanly’s political career, which if accurate consisted of five terms in Congress where he was Speaker of the House, a brief period as brigadier general and military governor of North Carolina by order of Abraham Lincoln, and finally an unsuccessful run as governor of California where he moved in 1863. One Edward Stanly died in San Francisco in 1872, and the other in his daughters’ house in New Jersey in 1881. Unless that was the same Edward Stanly, and he accomplished so much, he even died twice.
During the Civil War, the house was the headquarters of the occupying Union forces between 1862 and 1865, and after Thomas Green’s death, served as the local USO offices. We understand that Hollywood stars of the era like Tyrone Powers visited, and we are looking for photos to add to our collection. Since then, it has been an architects’ firm more than once as well as an art gallery.
In 1972, Stanly House was one of the first buildings to be nominated and be placed in the National Register of Historic Places.