The Stable Office, according to John Hawks’ 1767 plans, featured two rooms for stables, one with four stalls and the other with six, as well as a “Coach House” and “Harness Room.” In a later description written in 1783, Mr. Hawks added that the Stable Office also included “Bedrooms for the servant employed in the stables and Lofts for hay or fodder etc.”
The Stable Office is the only remaining part of the original Palace complex. Both wings survived the 1798 fire that destroyed the main building of the Palace, but the Kitchen Office was demolished sometime in the early 19th century.
The Stable Office had many functions over the years. After the Civil War, it was used as a mission chapel and as a school for Christ Episcopal Church. In a memoir of North Carolina in the 1880s, John H. Wheeler noted that “the stables are still in a good state of preservation and are now used as school rooms.” The building was stuccoed in the 1870s, had its roof rebuilt at least once, and additions made in the rear. It was converted to residential use in the late 19th century and was an apartment house when the restoration of Tryon Palace began in the early 1950s.
Restoration on the Stable Office began in 1951. The 19th-century roof, rear additions and post-18th-century interiors were removed. When stucco was removed from the walls, about 75 percent of the original brickwork remained. False windows, which were part of the 18th-century design, but which had been opened up in the 19th century, were bricked in again. Yellow brick pavers were laid for the floor, based on pavers found in archaeological digs. Original portions of the Stable Office include most of the exterior walls and the walls of the central passage. The wall separating the harness room from the stable was reconstructed.
During Governor Tryon’s time here this stable would have been very busy. The people responsible for taking care of the horses lived on the second floor much like the Kitchen Office servants where they worked. The Stablemaster and the Grooms that worked under him would be responsible for feeding and grooming the horses, as well as equipping them for the Tryons frequent rides.
We know from surviving records that Governor Tryon and his wife, Margaret Tryon, were both avid riders and apparently rode nearly every day. This would have kept the stable servants very busy. Being able to ride a horse was an important skill for an 18th century colonial traveler, and especially so in North Carolina where the roads were very poor and not well suited for the other main method of travel; horse-drawn carriages. In fact, one of Tryon’s major accomplishments in our colony was to improve the road system.