This morning the Winston-Salem Journal published an all too common story about someone struggling to restore a historic building and running afoul of the local building code.


Click on the pic to read the whole story


The house at 66 West End Boulevard

I knew the basic facts about the house, and had even known the last person to live in the house, but I got curious…I started out just to check the dates given, so naturally ended up writing a brief biography of the people who built it.

Edward Wright Noble was born on August 9, 1888 to Susan C. and Thomas J. Noble in Brookland, Henrico County, Virginia, the eldest of 8 children. According to his 1917 draft registration, he grew into a man of medium height with blues eyes and black hair.

After graduating with a degree in chemistry from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute in Blacksburg in 1911, he went to work as a chemist for the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. In 1914, he married Brownie Neff of Harrisonburg, Virginia and they moved into a house at 419 West First Street and got to work making a family.


E. Wright & Brownie Neff Noble, ca 1915

Thomas J. was born in 1915, Mary M in 1916 and E. Wright, Jr in 1917. By then, Edward Wright Noble was the superintendent of the chemistry department at RJR, so they bought a prime piece of land from Katharine and R.J. Reynolds and built a magnificent house for their family.

In 1928, E. Wright and Brownie traveled to Havana, Cuba.

Apparently, E. Wright got into the stock market and somehow survived the 1929 crash, because that year, having inherited some property back home, they sold the house to Ben and Grace Gray and moved to Gloucester County, Virginia.


Edward Wright Noble

Their new home was a historic 17th century house known as “Colraine”. There, E. Wright became a gentleman farmer and a stock broker, for many years associated with the New York firm of Fenner, Beane & Ungerfielder. FB&U would later, in 1938, be involved in a very complicated lawsuit argued before the U.S. Supreme Court, but E. Wright was only peripherally involved.

In the 1930 US census, he listed his occupation as “capitalist”. The next year, Brownie died. He later married Emily Sue Butt. E. Wright died in 1953. Emily Sue died in 1978. All three are buried in the graveyard of the historic Ware Episcopal Church, which was begun in 1690 and completed around 1718.


Ware Episcopal Church, ca 1690-1718

Aaron Cornwall, an Ardmore photographer in the mid-20th century, made a lifelong hobby of photographing all of the still standing colonial era Episcopal churches in the USA. Around 1980, as part of a larger exhibit on architecture, his pictures were put on display for the first time at the Winston-Salem Museum in the old Wachovia Bank building now know as 8 West Third Street. It was a big hit. Of course, Ware Church was one of the churches depicted.

Here is a little bonus that I found regarding Brownie and E. Wright:


Click the pic for easier reading…it’s worth it. That’s Colraine landing in the background.