PJ, Architect?

Posted in: Architecture, Research, A Summary View

Oh, Peter Jefferson!  So fascinating, yet so mysterious.  I never knew you designed a house, for instance.

Recently I ran across a 1990 article from the Raleigh (NC) News and Observer, which claimed that TJ’s father, Peter Jefferson (not Thomas Jefferson - they were very definite about that), had designed a house called High Rock Farm that had recently been sold to the Historic Preservation Foundation of North Carolina.

Well, that was quite a shocker.  Usually when there’s a story about a semi-famous person – even if it’s not true – you see it in more than one place, and I have never seen or heard even a hint that Mr. PJ ever designed any houses.  Not that he couldn’t have, being such a swell guy and all, but even so.  I attempted to check on this through the Historic Preservation Foundation of North Carolina, but was hampered by the fact that their website crashes approximately every 40 seconds.   (Literally.  I’m not kidding.)  I managed to send them an email, but have not yet heard back, so in the meantime I am forging ahead with my own researches.

Here’s the entry for the house on the National Register of Historic Places. Notice the complete lack of Peter Jefferson, and the “period of significance” which is almost 100 years later than Peter Jefferson’s own “period of significance”:

High Rock Farm ** (added 1974 - Building - #74001373)

SE of Reidsville on SR 2619, Williamsburg 

Historic Significance:            Architecture/Engineering

Architect, builder, or engineer:       Unknown

Architectural Style:   Federal

Area of Significance:             Architecture

Period of Significance:          1800-1824

Owner:            Private

Historic Function:     Domestic

Historic Sub-function:           Single Dwelling

Current Function:     Domestic

Current Sub-function:           Single Dwelling

This is not encouraging.  Also, I found this article that appeared in the Greensboro News & Record last November in which the current owner (who bought the house from the Historic Preservation Foundation of North Carolina in 1990) states that the house was actually built in 1808 by John McCain's great-great-great-grandfather.  That sounds a little more likely, quite frankly.

So, now it’s looking like “probably not,” but if anybody knows how Peter Jefferson’s name came to be attached to this house, I would love to hear from them!

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