About Thomas Day

Thomas Day, son of black freedman John Day, was a skilled and highly sought craftsman in North Carolina and Virginia during the first half of the 19th century (b. 1801, d. 1861). His father was a farmer and skilled woodworker whose products apparently were well-received in the local market. Like his father, Thomas Day was well educated, an unusual circumstance for freedmen of the pre-Civil War era.

Thomas and his brother John Day Jr. took up the family trade of cabinetmaking and woodworking in the 1820′s, achieving remarkable success and recognition for their craftsmanship. The brothers demonstrated a clear knack for business as well as their craft. They also held strong Christian beliefs, leading John Jr. to enter the ministry and ultimately hand over the entire business to his brother Thomas. Thomas Day’s working career continued until his death in 1861.

Over 150 years since his death, Day’s work and art remains popular and has been preserved at the University of North Carolina, special exhibits, museums (including his own museum and the N.C. History Museum), and homes throughout Virginia, North Carolina and beyond. The Woodside House proudly displays some of his most important and cherished work.