Town historian and NHPS board member David Scott will lead
Northampton Historic Preservation Society’s Guided Walking Tour of Historic
Eastville this year on Sunday, June 23rd at 4:00 pm (rain or shine). In
addition to a general informative overview of Eastville, he will offer a new
segment covering more houses on Willow Oak Road this year. The walking tour will
start 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. You will learn
about the historic district, which showcases a significant collection of
high-style and vernacular buildings.
Picture Eastville in the early 1900’s when
it was a bustling town in the midst of an economic, agricultural, and transportation
boom, and Courthouse Road was a major thorough-fare in the county. The walk
will be approximately one mile in length so be sure to dress comfortably. Register
now to hold your spot! Space is limited and preregistration will help the
program start on time. Attendees are asked to register early using any credit
card at the NHPS website provided at the bottom of this page. Tickets are $10
for adults and $5 for children 12 and under. Tour will begin at the Court Green at 4:00, so be sure to be there early!
Directions to Eastville Court Green from the North: From the Maryland state line, Eastville is about 50 miles south on US Highway 13. Turn right on Business Route 13 (Courthouse Road) or Route 631 (Willow Oak Road).
From the South: From the end of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, Eastville is about 15 miles north on US Highway 13 (Courthouse Road). Turn left on Business Route 13 or Willow Oak Road (Route 631).
The Court Green is to the right of the Eastville Inn. Off street parking is available across from the Court Green.
NHPS Video Premiere: “The Last Jail on the Northampton Court Green”
Sunday, July 28th, 2:00 pm at the Cape Charles Palace Theatre
Introduction and Post Q & A by Dr. Carl Lounsbury, Architectural
Through the last 300 years on the Northampton Historic Court Green in Eastville, some courthouses and clerk’s offices were torn down and some still stand, but rarely have the many jails once seen on the green survived for any extended period.
When the Historic Society realized that the 1914 Jail was to be torn down, Dr. Carl Lounsbury, architectural historian and expert on historic Virginia court greens, was asked to make recommendations on how to retain its history if it could not be saved. He suggested creating a video, and although the 1914 jail is a primary focus for “The Last Jail on the Northampton Court Green,” the documentary also recognizes earlier jails on the Court Green now lost to history.
The video begins with a time when jails were just a holding place for court trials and immediate punishment. Dr. Lounsbury appears in the film explaining the progression of jail methods of construction, types of prisoners, and the treatment of prisoners. Eastville Mayor James Sturgis provides 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 that improved security and the methods of containment were also featured. Follow County enforcement officers and leadership as they provide a tour of the 1914 Jail and recognize its service. These new and improved ideas for the treatment of prisoners were introduced in the 1914 Jail and it served the county for close to 100 years. It was the last jail built on the historic Northampton County Court Green.
This program is
free to the public and was made possible with the generous support of Virginia
NORTHAMPTON HISTORIC PRESERVATION SOCIETY
RECEIVES GRANT FROM VIRGINIA HUMANITIES
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.
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View the NHPS 2018 Summer Newsletter online at: Summer Newsletter 2018
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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
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
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).
WINNER OF 2017 VIRGINIA SHERMAN AWARD - COUNCIL OF VIRGINIA ARCHAEOLOGISTS
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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: email@example.com