John Harvey, a prosperous New Bern merchant, built one of the first brick houses there in the 1790s. This was a rare thing, since most houses, great and small, were wooden. The family held the house until the 1870s. It has had several uses since, including a boarding house.
House researchers seek to know who owned property and when. The Harvey Mansion, built in the 1790s, and its surrounding property, have been sold a number of times. As of 1997, the house was functioning as a restaurant.
In New Bern there are many outstanding examples of the city's architectural past, many dating back to the Colonial days. These include the John Wright Stanly house, Smallwood-Ward home, the William Gaston home, and the Richardson home.
The historic Attmore-Oliver House in New Bern was inherited by Hannah Taylor Attmore and her large family in 1859. During the Post-Civil War period, Hannah gave away her daughter, nicknamed Sunshine, in exchange for the nursing of her only surviving son. Sunshine’s granddaughter provided personal accounts and essential documents to complete this story.
The Bright House in New Bern was built by James and Mary Bright, who occupied the house until about 1800. Over the years, the house has been sold and relocated numerous times in New Bern. The Bright House is now restored and located on Craven Street.
The brick smokehouse built in 1847 behind the Attmore-Oliver House in New Bern has contributed to the interpretation of the house and social life history. People had a smokehouse because it was used to prepare ham, a resource which represented the peak of gentrified high status. Brick was used to reduce the incident of fire and also reduce stealing.