Northampton Historic Preservation Society

Enriching lives through the preservation of historical sites and culture.


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2019 NHPS Lectures on the Lawn

Northampton County continues to provide amazing sites for the NHPS "Lectures on the Lawn" Series. More information about past lectures can be found on the second tab at the top of this page. Current Lectures will be featured below.  Be sure to check this website should adverse weather conditions occur on the dates of the program.

Lecture on the Lawn at Eyre Rectory - Sunday, September 29th at 2:00 pm 

Join us in a visit to Eyre Rectory on Sunday, September 29th at 2:00.  It was built in the 1850’s as a rectory for the minister of Hungars Parish on six acres donated by Maria Robins and additional funds contributed by Mr. John Eyre of "Eyre Hall". This house served as a home for the ministers of Hungars Parish until about 1908 when a new rectory was built in Eastville, across Courthouse Road from Christ Church.  Since then it has had a number of owners, including Dr. Raymond Brown who was a general practitioner in Eastville for many years.  The current owners have done an excellent job fixing it up and they are anxious to share their historic home with us.

The land where "Eyre Rectory" was built was originally given to the local Native Americans in the 1640s.  They lived on this seaside land until the 1830s when they gradually sold their property to their more prosperous neighbors. The sad story of the Eastern Shore Native Americans will be addressed.

No fees are charged for this lecture, but we ask that individuals each consider a $10 donation to support ongoing NHPS preservation and education efforts. Be sure to bring your lawn chair and dress comfortably! Questions can be sent to

Directions:   Proceed as if you are going to Indiantown Park.  Turn east off route 13 at the stoplight in Eastville. Proceed on Willow Oak Road and cross over the seaside road and continue two-tenths of a mile. The house is on the right, surrounded by trees.  You may park in the yard. 

IMPORTANT:  Watch this website for announcements about any last-minute inclement weather cancellations/postponements. 

Lecture on the Lawn at Chatham - Sunday, October 13th at 2:00 pm

The Northampton Historic Preservation Society is offering a “Lecture on the Lawn at Chatham” on Sunday, October 13th at 2:00 pm.  Chatham, a stately Federal-style house located on Church Creek, is celebrating its 200th birthday. Surrounded by almost 300 acres of land protected in The Virginia Land Trust, it was originally part of a land patent granted in 1640 and has been the home of only five families. Built by Brigadier General Pitts in 1818, a prominent citizen of Northampton County, it was attached to an earlier structure that now serves as a kitchen.

The house features a Federal-style, barrel-vault brick porch with limestone steps built on the footprint of an earlier porch. The ruin of the Quarters Kitchen now shelters a kitchen garden that is enclosed by old fencing and boxwood. Restoration began by the Wehner family in 1979, and a winery completes the property which has been a working farm for four centuries.

No fees are charged for this lecture, but we ask that individuals each consider a $10 donation to support ongoing NHPS preservation and education efforts. Be sure to bring your lawn chair and dress comfortably. Questions can be sent to

Directions to 9218 Chatham Road, Machipongo:    Turn west off route 13 at the Barrier Island Center at the light onto Young Street (Rt. 618). At the stop sign, turn right onto Bayside Road (Rt. 618) follow Bayside Road approximately 3 miles to a left turn onto Church Neck Road (Rt. 619). Chatham Road will be on immediate right. There are signs featuring grapes at each of these turns and Chatham Vineyards is indicated on Rte.13 both directions.

IMPORTANT:  Watch this website for announcements about any last-minute inclement weather cancellations or postponements.

 NHPS Video Premiere of

“The Last Jail on the Northampton Court Green”

Launched July 28th at the Cape Charles Palace Theatre


Dr. Carl Lounsbury, Architectural Historian, hosted the July 28th event at the Cape Charles Historic Palace Theatre. The video began in a time when jails were just a holding place for court trials and immediate punishment.  In the video, Dr. Lounsbury explained the progression of jail methods of construction, types of prisoners, and the treatment of prisoners. Eastville Mayor James Sturgis provided an overview of the economic growth that funded the construction of a cutting edge, early 20th century jail in a rural and isolated Eastern Shore. Transforming attitudes toward incarceration led to better prisoner treatment and healthier conditions. Smaller cells, areas to congregate, and modern utilities were included in the 1914 Jail.   Twentieth century manufacturing techniques improved security. County enforcement officers and leadership provided a tour of the 1914 Jail and discussed how it functioned.  The new and improved ideas for the treatment of prisoners introduced in the 1914 Jail served the county for close to 100 years. It was the last jail built on the historic Northampton County Court Green. 


This program was made possible with the generous support of Virginia Humanities.


NHPS  Newsletters - Learn more about Northampton County History

View the NHPS 2019 Summer Newsletter online at: Summer Newsletter 2019

View the NHPS 2018 Summer Newsletter online at: Summer Newsletter 2018

View the NHPS 2017 Spring Newsletter online at: Spring Newsletter 2017

View the NHPS 2016 Summer Newsletter online at: Summer Newsletter 2016

View the NHPS 2016 Winter  Newsletter online at : Winter Newletter 2016

View the NHPS 2015 Summer Newsletter online at:  Summer Newsletter 2015



The Northampton Historical Preservation Society announces the award of a $3,000 grant to produce and deliver a documentary video to recognize the historical role of the recently demolished 1914 Jail and other Northampton County jails that stood on the Eastville Court Green. Once the video is complete, it will be shown in a public “premiere” screening and discussion forum. The Historical Society is pleased to acknowledge that this video was made possible with the generous support of Virginia Humanities.


Town historian and NHPS board member David Scott led the Northampton Historic Preservation Society’s Guided Walking Tour of Historic Eastville this year. In addition to a general informative overview of Eastville, he offered a new segment covering more houses on Willow Oak Road this year.

The walking tour started at the Court Green, one of the oldest in Virginia, where you can imagine how it looked at various times during its 300+ year history.


The Essay Contest has been extended to the fall of 2019.

Click on the green button above to learn about the first NHPS essay contest for young historians

on the Eastern Shore.  NHPS continues to foster an interest in historic preservation for students on the Shore.  


2018 NHPS Holiday Dinner and Annual Meeting - December 2018

The NHPS Holiday Dinner and Annual Meeting was held at The Oyster Farm at Kings Creek this year.  In addition to the annual meeting and the election of the officers/board, Dennis Custis was on hand to provide stories about the history of the fascinating people of Northampton County.  Many of the county's residents contribute to county, state and country.  Mr. Custis is a teacher of multiple shore generations and one of it's top historians.

Pear Valley Presentation Introducing the NHPS Video

Pear Valley: A 1740 Yeoman’s Cottage
Featuring Dr. Garrison Brown
Held March  2018  ~ Cape Charles Civic Center

On Sunday, March 25th, NHPS held a Pear Valley presentation and 23-minute video featuring Dr. Garrison Brown, Board Member and Pear Valley Overseer. In the video, Dr. Brown took us on a tour of the historic Pear Valley property indoors at the Cape Charles Civic Center at 500 Tazewell Ave. After the video, Dr. Brown was available for a question and answer session. 

Pear Valley represents what was once a common building in the rural landscape of the Chesapeake region. The yeoman planter’s cottage has been dated to 1740.  In 2013, it was designated as a National Historic Landmark and became one of only 2,596 landmarks in the entire U.S., 121 Virginia, and two in Northampton County.  This places Pear Valley in the company of Virginia’s Monticello, Montpelier, and Bacon’s Castle as a property officially recognized by the U.S. government for its national historic significance.


The 20-by-16-foot structure is a one-room, open or hall-plan house with a loft that was eventually subdivided into two rooms.  Its survival as a 2nd generation Chesapeake house was due in part to its construction on a brick frame foundation instead of the “earth fast” or post in the ground homes used by early settlers. Another factor in retaining its historical integrity was that it was used by one family, and Nottingham/Widgeon’s for 200 years. 


The quality of craftsmanship at Pear Valley can be seen by its architectural elements.  These include the Flemish bond chimney that features glazed headers in a Chevron pattern, a treatment employed in well-crafted buildings through the first half of the 18th century.  A false plate was used to carry the rafters and the interior exposed beams showcase chamfered edges and hand-wrought nails. Learn how Pear Valley has survived for almost three centuries and see the architectural elements that make it important to historians and scholars. (No cost for this program.)

Excavations in Northampton at Pear Valley and Newport House/Eyreville

Through 2017-2018, the Department of Agriculture/Forest Service  sponsored multiple  George Washington and Jefferson National Forest - Passport in Time excavation project in Northampton  Virginia.  In conjunction with the Archaeological Society of Virginia, Chesapeake Bay Archaeological Consortium, Department of Historic Resources, they have tested and documented two important sites in Northampton County - Pear Valley and Newport House/Eyreville.

Pear Valley, owned by the Northampton Historic Preservation Society, is the earliest surviving, single-room-plan house in Virginia. The site was a small Yeoman’s Cottage, dating to ca. 1740, once occupied by a gentleman farmer raising crops for market. The field school undertook to test excavations in an attempt to locate the foundations of the structure’s outbuildings, which will aid in site management and interpretation.

The Newport House/Eyreville Site, is located on the grounds of a late 17th - to 19th-centuries plantation house. During initial testing, numerous artifacts dating to the 17th-century were recovered. The assemblage, to date, includes rose-head nails, bricks, blue and grey stoneware, tin-glazed ware, gin and wine bottle fragments, and numerous pipe stems. Also recovered, were Dutch yellow bricks several elaborately-decorated Dutch pipes, farthings and a jetton (counter). With field testing and documentary research, the excavations may isolate the structure’s foundations and other features in order to determine the site’s function and to obtain more precise dates of its occupation.

See Virginian Pilot Article here

Ancestry Workshop with M. K. Miles Held on March 2018

The NHPS was pleased to welcome genealogist M. K. Miles as host of the NHPS ancestry workshop.  Mr. Miles, an Eastern Shore native and author of the MilesFiles, is well known by researchers and historians around the world. Despite the brisk wind outside, attendees enjoyed the day learning about ways to access their family's journey through history.

NHPS Annual Membership Meeting and Holiday Dinner
 Speaker:  Dr. William Kelso 
Director of  Archaeology
,  Historic Jamestowne

The NHPS Annual Membership Meeting and Holiday Dinner was held on December 6th at The Oyster Farm at Kings Creek.  An annual meeting highlight was guest speaker Dr. Bill Kelso, the world renowned Director of Archaeology at Historic Jamestowne. Dr. Kelso’s well known archaeological projects at Jamestown, Monticello, and his earlier work at  Pear Valley and Arlington Plantation, have made him a popular figure in Northampton County and Virginia. In 1993, he was named Director of Archaeology for Preservation Virginia’s Jamestown Rediscovery Project where he set to work immediately to find the exact location of the original fort of the Jamestown colonists on the James River.

By the end of 1996, he had uncovered evidence of palisades and the foundations of other structures that confirmed the identity of the fort. Since then, Dr. Kelso’s work has continued in Jamestown with the excavations of numerous additional buildings, including the settlement’s first church and the burial place of four Jamestown leaders, and the governor’s rowhouse during the term of Samuel Argall. Over two million objects have been found and catalogued. These objects reflect the lives and trials of the early English settlers. They reveal stories of hope, determination, desperation, and sometimes cruelty. Dr. Kelso is the author of numerous books on American archaeological projects, including his latest book, Jamestown, The Truth Revealed (May 2017).


In late October, Dr. Garrison “Doc” Brown was awarded the Council of Virginia Archaeologists “Virginia Sherman Award” for his significant contributions both above and below ground to historic preservation in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  “Doc” was nominated for this award because of his above and beyond efforts in supporting historic preservation.   


In receiving this award, Brown’s active membership in the Northampton, Virginia Historic Preservation Society and role as caretaker of Pear Valley, an 18th century yeoman’s cottage which is significantly unique to this region was highlighted. His nomination specifically recognized his involvement in the current excavations at Newport House/Eyreville where a second/third quarter 17th century dwelling was discovered. 


Last winter, Dr. Brown identified the research value of the site when a Northampton county land owner removed a tree stump which in turn lead to a recovery of a casting counter, Irish farthings and yellow Dutch bricks. He immediately notified the DHR and the site remains under study to this day. His quick and thoughtful action will uncover many precious artifacts to tell our regions history.


NHPS Walking Tour of Historic Accomac - October 2017

Great day in Accomack and Onancock.  Enjoyed a visit to the Saint James Episcopal Church in Accomac with tour guide Drummond Ayres.  Followed by a tour of the Accomac Historic District - significant for its well preserved architecture and rich history as a government center for over 300 years.

The Roman Revival style of the Francis Makemie Presbyterian Church, built in 1837, was next on the tour. The history and furnishings of the Church was highlighted by Fitzhugh Godwin, Chairman of The Francis Makemie Society. He  also addressed the recent archeological dig at the Makemie Monument Park. Francis Makemie founded the organization.  Then the group went on to lunch at Onancock's Charlotte Hotel & Restaurant.

NHPS Guided Walking Tour of Historic Eastville - June  2017

On June 25th, in the 2nd year of the well-received NHPS Guided Walking Tour of Historic Eastville, town historian and NHPS board member David Scott continued to add new material to his informative presentation.  In addition, new research pertaining to the "forgotten" history of the Eastville Court Green jails during the 1800’s and 1900’s, was featured in a presentation by Joyce Kappeler.


Looking  at the Court Green, one of the oldest in Virginia,  you can imagine how it looked at various times during its 300+ year history. Eastville features commercial and residential architecture within the historic district which showcases a significant collection of high-style and vernacular buildings. Picture Eastville as the bustling city it was while in the midst of an economic, agricultural, and transportation boon and Courthouse Road was a major thoroughfare in the county. In fact, did you know that by 1921, Northampton and Accomack were considered the richest agricultural counties in the United States?

NHPS Annual Meeting, December 14, 2016

On December 14th, the membership of the NHPS met at the yearly meeting portion of the Holiday Dinner at the Historic Eastville Inn in Eastville, VA. At this meeting, the slate of Officers and Board Members were elected for 2017. 

Kellee Green Blake, retired director of the National Archives-Mid Atlantic Region in Philadelphia was the featured speaker for the program. Over a 25-year coast to coast career with the National Archives, Kellee administered the treasures of our nation, including the papers of Abraham Lincoln, the confiscation of Arlington House, the Nixon pardon, and the Robert F. Kennedy Assassination Files.  Now a popular speaker and writer, she authored two plays and is currently writing a book about the Virginia Eastern Shore during the Civil War. 

Kellee provided an extensive presentation and slide show about the Civil War and how it impacted Northampton residents.  The role of many of the families and historic properties in the County were addressed, including the Eastville Inn, and the personalities and actions of the soldiers representing both sides were revealed in great detail.

Not a member of NHPS yet?  Consider becoming a member to be the first to learn about NHPS programs and receive newsletters about interesting preservation activities in Northampton County, VA.

Amazing "Artifacts & Arrowheads "  Program Held October  2016 

An interactive exhibition of Eastern Shore artifacts with local archaeologist David Duer was held on October 23rd. He shared his insights and personal collection which illuminates thousands of years of Eastern Shore history.  Mr. Duer has been exploring the Shore for over 30 years. His discoveries comprise a fascinating and diverse collection of artifacts and treasures which reveal much about life in the region.  It was an exciting journey that helped participants to connect to the early peoples of the Shore  and the factors that contributed to the "amazing" artifacts that can be found.

October 2016     NHPS Historic Jamestowne Bus Trip

Since the discovery of the original James Fort walls by Dr. William Kelso  in 1995 Historic Jamestowne has attracted world attention by continuing to unearth the lost remains of America's first permanent English settlement.  Last year, Archaeology magazine once again named them for one of the Top Ten discoveries of 2015 for their landmark excavation efforts and identification of four early burials. In 2016, they began focusing on the excavation of the historic church of 1617 where the first elected assembly met in a landmark step toward the founding of the United States. On Tuesday, October 11, 2016 the Northampton Historic Preservation Society visited the recently excavated site of the oldest successful settlement in the New World.

The morning included a guided tour by Joe Burkart with the Tidewater Virginia Historical Society and remarks from Dr. Kelso, now the Director of Jamestowne Rediscovery, about his remarkable path to unearthing the south palisade of the original fort. An exclusive guided tour of the 7500 square foot  Archaearium, which houses over 4,000 artifacts, was also included. The building itself was carefully placed over the original site of the Jamestown Statehouse and the 17th-century structural features are visible through glass sections in the floor.


Following lunch, the group headed to Colonial Williamsburg to visit two connected museums, the first being the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum.  A guide was on hand to help navigate and answer questions regarding the special exhibit: "We Are One: Mapping America's Road from Revolution to Independence.  On loan from the Boston Public Library this 90 map exhibit traces America?s story from the French and Indian War all the way to the creation of our great nation.  At the second, the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, a guide interpreted the "American Ship Paintings" exhibit. In the mid-19th century, ship captains and owners commissioned artists to depict their sea-going vessels in all their glory.

Court Green Added to PVA's 2015 List of Virginia's Most Endangered Sites

While the Court House and many supporting structures have been lovingly preserved over the years, it is the uncertain future of the two old jails. State and local historians and preservationists are concerned about the two structures, and in turn, the integrity and continuity of the court green complex.

Lack of funding and threat of demolition by neglect have dominated the conversation recently as county and town officials struggle to come to some viable agreement about the future of the buildings. Northampton Historic Preservation Society remains an integral part of these conversations as an advocate of protection, stewardship, and feasible solutions. The 1914 Jail, a four-square brick, currently sits vacant. In use until 2000, it was shut down in 2009 after the conclusion of lead and asbestos abatement. In its time, it was considered a large, modern facility "worth a dozen of the dinky little hovels" now in use as a jail. And one which "could handle a good portion of the speak-easy crowd even if they are numerous." The  smaller 1907 jail, which sits behind the 1914 building, is a one-story brick structure needing repair though it still retains many of its original architectural elements. 

NHPS Joins AmazonSmile Program - An Easy Way to Donate to NHPS

AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support your favorite charitable organization every time you shop, at no cost to you. When you shop at, you?ll find the exact same vast selection and convenient shopping experience as, with the added bonus that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to your favorite charitable organization.

On your first visit to AmazonSmile, you need to select a charitable organization to receive donations from eligible purchases before you begin shopping. Amazon remembers your selection, and then every eligible purchase you make at will result in a donation.  You will have to enter Amazon through for NHPS to receive a donation.

See The Activities of  the Northampton Historic Preservation Society on YouTube

 Northampton Historic Preservation Society History

In 2013, the Northampton Historic Preservation Society was granted 501 (c) (3) status. The mission of the NHPS is to preserve the historic heritage of properties primarily in Northampton County, Virginia through education, advocacy, and restoration activities. The NHPS is dedicated to continuing its century long historic preservation mission (previously known as the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities, Northampton Branch, and later as the Northampton Branch, Preservation Virginia).

Northampton Historic Preservation Society

P.O. Box 501

Eastville, VA 23347

email address:

Donations Appreciated!