John Davis Finch was a businessman, realtor, landowner, husband, father, author, and a leader in Zebulon’s early history.
In January, 1911 John and his wife Sallie B. Strickland Finch and their family moved from Bailey, North Carolina to the recently-formed township of Zebulon, North Carolina and bought two contiguous plots of land upon which he built their home at 214 E. Horton Street. He eventually also bought several adjoining lots along Horton and Whitley Streets. His cousin, Nathaniel Baxter Finch, also owned many lots in the new town of Zebulon which was founded in 1907. Nathaniel Finch also established the N.B. Finch and Company supply store, and John became its manager.
John’s cousin, N.B. Finch, was wealthy, and a prominent merchant, banker and landowner from Nash County, with farms totaling over 4,000 acres. He formed a partnership with William Winston Richardson, another prominent Nash County merchant, banker and farmer. In the early 1900’s, the partnership of N. B. Finch and W. W. Richardson continued to increase their farming interests into eastern Wake County, helping establish their interest in the newly formed township of Zebulon, where they together purchased the first property deeds of Zebulon in 1907. N.B. Finch also owned the Finch Building in Spring Hope, North Carolina, which is still the largest commercial structure there, and built a 5,600 square foot Victorian home in that town that continues to grace Second Street today.
John was appointed commissioner of Zebulon in 1913, in 1919 and again in 1921, and then he resigned due to ill health. He then tended to his farm interests in Mount Pleasant and Bailey. In his retirement he undertook research and wrote a book on his family’s history, “Genealogy of Finch Families who are Same Clan” in 1948.
Other Finch family members that were active in Zebulon Government include: Sanford Moses Finch, Zebulon Mayor in 1919; John “Plumie” Finch, Zebulon Health Officer; and Foster D. Finch, notable Zebulon attorney Zebulon Commissioner in 1923, 1925, and 1937.
The house that John built is a Queen Anne Victorian with Classic Revival influences. It is featured in The Historic Architecture of Wake County, North Carolina, by Kelly Lally, Wake County Government, 1994. The entry reads:
“This multi-gabled two-story late Queen Anne-style house was the home of Zebulon merchant John Finch. Finch was an employee of N.B. Finch & Company, the first farm supply store in town… Notable characteristics include a small second story porch with sawn and turned trim, lunette gable windows, a front bay window, and a patterned metal shingle roof. The Craftsman-style supporters on the wraparound porch are 1920s or 1930s replacements.”
John Davis Finch died on August 2, 1949, and his cousin, N. B. Finch died within the same month, on August 28, 1949. His wife Sallie continued to live in the house until her death, and in 1956 the home was sold to William Percival Gay. He resided there until 1982, and the house had two more owners until MaryBeth and Scott Carpenter bought it in September, 2015.