Charles Manly was born in
Chatham County in 1795, son of Basil Manly and Elizabeth Maultsby.
After graduating with honors from the University of North Carolina
in 1814 at the age of 19, he was hired as a tutor for the children
of John Haywood of Raleigh. Manly also read law with Haywood and was
admitted to the bar in 1816. In 1817 he married Haywood’s niece,
Charity Hare Haywood,
and settled in Raleigh.
Manly was elected reading clerk
in the House of Commons in 1823 and was chief clerk for seventeen years.
He also practiced law in Pittsboro, for soon after coming to the bar he
was elected county attorney and must have traveled from Raleigh to
discharge these duties, staying with his sister Louisa Thompson. Manly
was elected Governor of North Carolina in 1848, serving one term.
Manly was a devoted supporter of
his alma mater,
serving as secretary-treasurer of the Board of Trustees of the
University of North Carolina from 1821 until 1869, except for his years
as governor. He died in 1871 and is buried in the City Cemetery in
Manly’s Law Office
In 1842 Manly
purchased land near what is now SunTrust Bank on Hillsboro Street,
hiring local craftsman George Ellington to build a one-room
structure that tradition holds is the same building now standing
north of the Masonic Lodge in Pittsboro. Manly called his office
“Fort Snug,” and it became a meeting place for area lawyers. He sold
the property in 1857, and the building was eventually moved to the
back of a lot on Salisbury Street owned by Mr. and Mrs. Henry Blair.
1966 the newly-formed historical society voted to accept the
building from the owners, and to move and restore it as part of the
county’s bi-centennial celebration, using furnishings loaned by
Harvey Gunter, former Pittsboro resident and a benefactor of the
Manly office. The structure has since been maintained by CCHA and
serves as a small, but fine example of a nineteenth century office.
with all old structures, the Manly Office requires periodic
maintenance and repairs.
The structure was repaired
and repainted in 1995 under the direction of Wayne Kirts and in 2006
as an Eagle Scout project directed by Reid Montgomery. In 2007, with
the aid of a generous grant by Harvey Gunter, the Manly Law Office
was fitted with period-appropriate green shutters. Painstakingly
painted by Jane Pyle and Nancy Simons, and installed by Doug Cordaro
and Carl Bigness—all CCHA volunteers—the shutters give the office a
more finished look. New curtains made by Judith Peterson
complement the exterior improvements.
2009, thanks to a kind benefactor, Harvey Gunter, the Manly Law
Office roof was replaced with cedar shingles. Not only did this
repair a roof in need, it also restored the roof to a material more
authentic to the period. Repairs were also made to rotting sills
under both doors. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Gunter also provided a
bronze identification plaque for the front door, now painted green.
office received additional improvements when the Chatham Seekers, a
local chapter of the Questers, volunteered to fund and oversee
extensive repairs to the windows in the structure. The windows were
completely rebuilt and rehung by Al Poland from Raleigh. Those
repairs were completed in 2011. CCHA is grateful for the Quester’s
Chatham Seekers' efforts to make the office “snug” once again. In
2013 and 2014 the brick walkway was completed and new iron handrails
were added by the Questers.
The Manly Law Office needs a
steward—a docent-housekeeper to open the museum and be present on
First Sundays and for tours, someone who would sweep and dust
periodically; in short, a mother-hen. The Masons mow the grass but
do not prune the boxwood or shrubbery or keep the weeds off the
A really dedicated volunteer
could research nineteenth-century detached law offices and make
plans for a more authentic restoration.
to support the ongoing maintenance of the Manly Law Office and
grounds are gratefully received.
To volunteer write to us at
Contributions can be made at the museum or by mail sent to CCHA, PO Box
93, Pittsboro NC 27312.