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Whatever happened to Hugh MacRae’s mansion on Seventh Street?

Ben Steelman

The “Castle,” as it was known, was torn down in 1955.

Located at 713 Market St., the house was originally built in 1853 in the Italianate style by local architect James F. Post for John Coffin Wood.

Hugh MacRae’s father, Donald MacRae (1825-1892) bought in in 1859. he remodeled it completely. As Beverly Tetterton noted in “Wilmington: Lost But Not Forgotten,” MacRae was extremely proud of his Scottish ancestry, so he added turret-like bays on the northeast and southwest corners, covered the exterior walls with stucco painted gray. The windows were trimmed with stone and what architects call “machiolated ornamentation” was added, to make the place look like a castle straight out of a Sir Walter Scott novel.

(Machiolations are the stone openings on a battlement, through which defenders could throw stones, or pour boiling oil, on besiegers during the Middle Ages.)

The result certainly looked military enough when the Union army requisitioned the house as a hospital in 1895.

Hugh MacRae (1865-1951) inherited the house from his father. As the questioner noted, the house figures prominently in Philip Gerard’s novel “Cape Fear Rising,” since MacRae was a major figure behind the scenes in the 1898 Wilmington riot and coup which overthrew the city’s biracial Republican government.

In 1902, MacRae hired Henry Bacon, a fellow Wilmington boy who went on to design and build the Lincoln Memorial, to renovate the Castle considerably. The entrance was moved around to the house’s west side, and the old Market Street porch was turned into a conservatory.


Who is Hugh MacRae?

Who is Hugh MacRae II?

User-contributed question by:
Corey S.

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