B.W. Canady House

B.W. Canady House

Historical Background

The elegant Italianate frame house located on the northwest corner of North Queen Street and West Washington Avenue near downtown Kinston, North Carolina was probably built shortly after Burwell Westbrook Canady purchased this lot in April 1883. Canady (1854- 1905), the son of B. W. Canady, Sr., and Susan (Moore) Canady, had moved to Kinston in 1873 from the family's 2,500 acre Lenoir County plantation "Quebec," after attending Wake Forest College. His first position in the growing town was as a clerk for cotton buyers Moore and Cox, where he was employed until 1876

Canady entered the local hardware business after leaving Moore and Cox; with George E. Miller, he opened Miller and Canadys at the southeast corner of Queen and Gordon streets. They dissolved the partnership in 1882, with Canady taking over the hardware dealership and Miller assuming control of their associated machine works. Canady built a larger building on the same site in 1883 and was among the first to rebuild after the disastrous fire which destroyed much of Kinstons commercial district in February 1895.

Canadys involvement in his community went well beyond the prosperous hardware and building supply business he developed in the 1880s and 1890s. It has been said that he was ".....a pioneer in the development of Kinstons industrial life,....[taking] a large part in promoting its tobacco industry. He was one of the largest investors in the locally organized Orion Knitting Mills, a stockholder and committeeman of the Atlantic and North Carolina Railroad, a founder and member of the board of directors of the Bank of Kinston, and owner of Kinstons second tobacco warehouse, the Atlantic. He also managed the farming operations at "Quebec,' with its extensive tenant farmed truck and tobacco fields, and, for a time, he owned the Seven Springs resort in eastern Wayne County. His contributions in the civic arena included chairing the Board of County Commissioners and the local school board and serving several terms as a town alderman in the 1890s and as mayor of Kinston for two terms (187779 and 188182). At his death in 1905, the local newspaper made the following comments about Canady:

"Ever since Mr. Canady attained his majority he has
been identified with the political and industrial life of the
community and has figured as a leader in all enterprises,
putting money and effort into them. To him is largely due
the industrial progress of Kinston."

Canady was clearly an example of the type of New South entrepreneur who did so much to ensure the states development in the late 19th century.

On 20 November 1877, Canady married Mary Herman Canady, daughter of Henry and Winifred (Williams) Canady, with whom he had five children. They apparently lived with his mother and stepfather for several years prior to moving to their new Kinston residence. Canady died in September 1905, relatively a young man, but one who had lived a successful life for his family and community. His widow died in 1924. Two of the Canady daughters, Lottie and Susie, never married and lived in the house throughout their lifetimes. A third daughter, Elizabeth, married John B. Long, a vice-president of E. V. Webb and Company tobacco firm; the Longs lived with the Canady sisters during the 1940s.

B. W. Canady was associated with numerous other buildings in Kinston, including his Atlantic Tobacco Warehouse (razed), which stood west of his residence on the northeast corner of North Heritage Street and West Washington Avenue, and the two commercial buildings erected after the 1895 fire which survive in the Queen-Gordon Streets Historic District (#s 1 and 17). However, his endeavors on behalf of his community went well beyond his hardware business and his interest in the tobacco industry. He was active in promoting banking and the textile industry locally and an energetic participant in Kinstons civic life, serving as mayor and alderman during important decades in the citys development. The building in Kinston with which his association was the longest is his elegant residence, which so vividly reflects his role in the community, both through its location in close proximity to the core of the city and its well-crafted architectural presence. Occupied by members of his immediate family until the 1970s, the house is the building most closely identified with Canady within the community.

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