Historic house in Oriental is on the Market! One more piece of Oriental History Village Realty has the pleasure to present to the Public. THE LATHAM HOUSE. Located on the corner of Neuse Street and First Avenue. This grand Southern style home sits on 4 Lots. in Oriental Lot # 191, 192, 193, 194. Located in an R2 zone, this delightful home with wrap around porches. The Grand staircase leads to 4 large bedrooms and a full bath. Downstairs you will enjoy a Southern Parlor and Living room is divided by an original glass french doors. Relax in a spacious living room which flows into the formal dining room then into the kitchen. There is a 1/2. Built in 1904 this is study house with enough room for your large family. Within minutes of Lou Mac Park and the views and breezes of the Neuse River. Stroll to the Town Dock and fish for your favorite fish.The Captain John Day House
The house at 208 Neuse Street was built early in the 20th century, around 1904. It was one of several houses built in a particular style for the employees of the sawmill.. I'm not positive but I believe it had two rooms up and two rooms down with a single story kitchen wing. My grandfather, John Jarvis Day bought the house and all the land around it in 1924 or '25. He had just remarried and wanted a nice home for his bride.
Before I get on with the story of the house I want to tell you about my grandparents. My grandfather was a successful sea captain who traveled the Atlantic from the East coast down to the Caribbean and on to Europe and Africa. His ship was a 120 foot long three masted schooner. He had left Cedar Island as a boy and made his fortune at sea, eventually owning his own ship, the G.J. Cherry. When he first saw my grandmother he was a widower with two children. The story goes that he came to Cedar Island to visit my grandmother's parents and saw her in the crib. He told them he would marry her when she grew up. And so he did. She was 17 and he was 54. He presented this house to my grandmother as a wedding gift. He also gave her the title to a four masted schooner so she would have her own income. It was a life she never would have had if she had married a boy from Cedar Island. My mother was born in 1925 in the house next door, which John Day's uncle owned. That house was torn down about 30 years ago.
When Capt. Day bought the house he had grand plans for it. He was the one who had the grand stair case put in and extended the second floor. He also put in electricity, running water and indoor bathrooms. The garage behind the house was built at that time. Originally there was a single bay garage with three rooms added on. There was a heating stove and running water at one time in the room next to the garage.. My grandmother and mother stayed there while the renovations on the big house were being completed. It was my father's chemistry lab when I was growing up. The room on the end was the pump house and the room in the middle was storage. When I was a child there were no floors in the pump house or middle room. The building was renovated in the 1990s. Floors were installed and the roof was re-shingled..
In the main house you will notice mantles in every room. There were never any fireplaces. There are flues for wood burning or maybe oil stoves. There is also a flue in the kitchen for a cooking stove. When I was growing up there was an oil burning stove in the living room. My parents had a small stove in their bedroom. My siblings and I slept in cold rooms with lots of blankets. In 1963 my father updated the heating system. That was the year the big furnace and duct work was put in. It was only used one winter before we moved to New Bern.
One important fact about this house is that the inside has never flooded. Water has gone under the house on numerous occasions but has never gone into the house. One of my earliest memories is playing on the porch during hurricane Ione in 1955. My brother and I played on the front porch during the first half of the storm and the back porch during the second half when the storm surge brought the tide in. Oriental went through the eye of Ione. This house has survived many hurricanes since it was built. I'd feel safe staying here.
In 1933 there was a major hurricane on the coast of North Carolina. You can still hear some old timers or their children, like me talking about the storm of '33. When the storm passed my grandfather and grandmother took his yacht, the Jephtha, and went to Cedar Island. My grandmother wrote up a report of damage to houses on that island. Hog Island had been evacuated and my grandfather brought some of those people back to Oriental with him. Their descendants still call Oriental home
Captain Day retired from the sea in the mid 1920s. He invested some of his money into a car dealership. The business was right around the corner from this house at the corner of First Ave. and Main Street. He may have been a first rate sea captain, but on land he didn't have that much success, probably because the Great Depression was starting. Another business he had was a wharf where the Oriental Marina is today. Both businesses failed. Then the banks failed. Before the Depression he had been a rich man. When he died in 1940 he was broke. There was the house and some land, but very little money left.
My mother and her mother lived in the house several more years after my grandfather died in 1940. My mother met and married my father 1948.. When my father graduated from college in 1951 he had a growing family but no job and nowhere to live. My grandmother had recently remarried and didn't need the house, so she sold it to my parents for a dollar. Dad found a job at Cherry Point and we lived in the house until 1964.
My father, Fred Latham, was very active in the community when we lived here. Just about every boy in town was in the Boy Scout Troop when Dad was leader from 1951 until 1964. The meetings were held in this house. Dad made scouting fun and exciting. Friday nights the house buzzed with energy. Dad was also very active in the Oriental Rotary club, serving as treasurer, secretary and president at different times. He was also a volunteer fireman. His helmet and fireman's coat hung in the room where the furnace is now.
The house was our vacation home after we moved to New Bern. We would stay here all summer. Dad would take the ferry to Cherry Point. Until around 1970 the only ferry was a private one that was provided by the base. It only carried people. A bus would meet the ferry on the other side and carry the people to the base. Dad was on a committee to get the car ferry at Minnesott. It's hard to imagine today what it was like going to the beach then. Before the ferry it was a two hour drive to Atlantic Beach.
As the years went by my siblings and I got married and moved away. My parents didn't spend as much time in the house. It was open mainly during the weeks around the sailing social. My parents always had a big party on that day. They kept up that tradition into the early 80s. Mom decided it was too much work for her to do alone especially years when the stove gave up or the septic tank backed up. Thank goodness we don't have to worry about septic tanks any more!. Dad spent the day sailing, so the party was Mom's responsibility. Everyone enjoyed those parties, and were disappointed when they ended.
When I married and had a family I enjoyed bringing them to the house when we lived close enough to visit. My children and my niece and nephew spent time here every summer, just as I had. They enjoyed fishing and sailing with my father. Now they are all grown and have brought their own children to the house. That's five generations of my family who have loved this house. I hope whoever buys it will love it as much as we have.