History of the Sweetwater Montessori Pre-school Property

Sweetwater Montessori School Preschool and Kindergarten Logo

Stately Live Oak at 403 Howell Rd
A stately Live Oak tree planted by Henry T. Davis still graces the west lawn of Sweetwater Montessori Pre-school and Kindergarten.

History of the Davis House
403 Howell Road, New Bern, NC

Satellite image of 403 Howell Road location between Trent and Neuse Rivers
Richard Dobbs Spaight
Richard Dobbs Spaight

Sweetwater Montessori School is located between the Trent and Neuse Rivers on land that once belonged to New Bern native and U.S. founding father Richard Dobbs Spaight, Sr., (1758-1802, pictured left) one of North Carolina's three signatories to the United States Constitution and North Carolina's eighth Governor.

The property was handed down through the Spaight family and was most recently owned by Richard Dobbs Spaight Sr.'s great, great grandson, Col. Charles Shepard Bryan (1865-1956.) Also a New Bern native, Bryan fought with the American Expeditionary Forces in France during WWI, graduated from the Army War College in 1923 and retired with the rank of colonel in 1929. He later was a New York financier and member of the New York Stock Exchange, and an Ashville, NC businessman.

Signature of Richard Dobbs Spaight on the U.S. Constitution
Signatures of the North Carolina delegates on the U.S. Constitution

Col. Chas. S. Bryan's Trent River Farm was subdivided in 1947. The present property consists of two adjacent lots of the subdivision, which were deeded in 1947 to Fuller Saulter, Jr. and wife, Hazel A. Saulter. The property was acquired in 1953 by Henry T. Davis and wife, Ruby Parrish Davis. Davis, a New Bern master carpenter, built his family residence here. The house was owned for 57 years by Mr. and Mrs. Davis until 2011, when it was purchased by the current owner, 403 Howell Road LLC. The Davis house today is leased by Sweetwater Montessori School.


The original Sweetwater Montessori Pre-School building at 403 Howell Rd. in New Bern, NC, c. 2011
The Davis House, built 1954 (photo taken June, 2011.)
The original Sweetwater Montessori Pre-School building at 403 Howell Rd. in New Bern, NC, c. 2012
Updated in 2011 to meet contemporary building code for child care facilities, the Davis House is home today to Sweetwater Montessori Preschool and Kindergarten (photo from April, 2012.)


Bryan Family Papers, 1704-1940
Collection Number: 00096
UNC University Libraries
The Southern Historical Collection at the Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library

Burkes Peerage and Gentry

Craven County (NC) Register of Deeds

Dictionary of North Carolina biography, Volume 5
By William S. Powell -- UNC Press, 1994, p.328

U.S. Government Archives


Sweetwater Montessori School   |  Pre-school and Kindergarten   |  403 Howell Rd.   |   New BernNC 28562   |   (252) 649-5746


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