202 Walnut Street Robert Lee Smith

(1871-1943) built this, his family home, with salvaged lumber (which he hand planed) from two schooners wrecked offshore. The National Register describes the house and Smith as follows, “A three-bay I-house with center-hall plan, two-tier front porch, one-story ell now detached and located on adjoining property. Smith was Swansboro’s most prolific early 20th century carpenter – participating in the construction of at least thirteen structures between 1900 and 1940 and also built many boats”.

hiLee, as he was called, was son of James Warren Smith and Abigail Willis Smith, married in 1861, who moved from Bogue in Carteret County to Swansboro in 1878. James Smith (known as Cap’n Jim) purchased a house at what is now 140 Front, where he supported his family fishing. After his father’s death in 1913, Robert Lee built a new house at that location so he could be near his railway (located at the end of Main St.) for constructing boats. Prior to building houses and boats, Lee was a fisherman and line boat Captain to Morehead City.

During World War I, Lee, like many other area skilled carpenters worked in the shipyard in Morehead City building large sea-going cargo vessels. He married Lina Russell (daughter of Major and Mary Amelia Barnum Russell) in 1886 and had three daughters: Daisy, Amelia and Marjory. Daisy married Tyre Moore of Swansboro, career Coast Guard, retiring with the rank of Lt. Commander and built a retirement home next to Lee Smith’s “new” home on Front Street, living there to age 98. Amelia married Everrett Canady of Swansboro, party boat captain and construction worker, living all her life in another house her father built on Water Street to age 100. Marjorie married and lived in the family home to age 101. Current owner is Helen Solterer.