Historic Woodville

Preserving Woodville's Heritage



Application to National Register of Historic Places for designation of "RURAL HISTORIC DISTRICT" - Woodville (Bertie Co), NC 1997.

Includes Architectural Descriptions and History of planter village.

The National Register of Historic Places is the Nation's official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation. Authorized under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Register is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect our historic and archeological resources. Properties listed in the Register include districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects that are significant in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering, and culture. The National Register is administered by the National Park Service, which is part of the U.S. Department of the Interior

In 1997, Historic Woodville hired Ruth Little of Longleaf Historical Resources in Raleigh, NC to prepare a study for the nomination of Woodville’s structures to be included in the National Register of Historic Places, delineating the village’s historical and architectural significance. In 1998, the NC Division of Archives and History, and then the U.S. Department of Interior, approved the nomination , and Woodville was awarded the prestigious designation of "Rural Historic District" in the National Register of Historic Places. Below is a portion of the study that Ruth submitted to the State and Federal agencies.

Clarifying notes added in 2008 by the directors of Historic Woodville are in italicized parentheses.

Architectural Description

 Woodville, a rural village that today is incorporated into the larger town of Lewiston-Woodville, lies in western Bertie County about two miles from the Roanoke River, the county boundary.  Located in the Roanoke River Valley bordering Albemarle Sound, the tidewater county of Bertie is sparsely populated.  As it has since settlement in the eighteenth century, Woodville and the later community of Lewiston to the north constitute one of the few towns in the west-central region of the county.  The town is surrounded by dense forested swamplands known as pocosins.  The tiny village of Woodville consists of fourteen principal buildings built primarily between 1801 and 1927 (later research shows earliest building dated 1750-1790) on both sides of the old Roxobel-Windsor Road in western Bertie County.  The Woodville Historic District contains six pre-Civil War houses, one antebellum church(since this 1997 study, another church, St. Frances Methodist Church – already on the National Register - was moved back to its original home within the district in 2000), an 1870s rectory, two antebellum church cemeteries and three early twentieth-century craftsman houses.   The plantations were not adjacent to the houses, but were located in the fertile bottomland along the rivers.   Planters built their residences here on this high ground in order to escape the unhealthy living conditions of these pocosins and for access to schools, commerce, and social interaction.
 A traveler speeding through Woodville on the highway would notice only a few of the houses because most stand well off the road in groves of hardwood trees, their outbuildings extending to the sides and rear.  Across the flat tiled fields which now separate one house from another are splendid vistas.  Because of the unbroken continuity of habitation and development in Woodville, the period of significance extends from 1801 (since this study, it has been determined that one of the structures, the Bazemore House, dates from 1750-1790), the date of construction of the first house to 1927 when the last historic house was built.  
Of the fourteen principal buildings, all but three contribute to the historical character of the district.  Two of the noncontributing buildings are houses built after the end of the district’s period of significance in 1927; the third noncontributing building is the much-altered historic rectory, which has undergone much exterior and interior renovation as well as a large addition.  Because the dwellings, particularly those from the Federal and antebellum period, are surrounded by extensive outbuildings, there are a total of 36 contributing buildings, may of which are early and mid-nineteenth century outbuildings.  There are 19 noncontributing buildings and 7 noncontributing structures (five vehicle storage sheds and two swimming pools).  In addition there are three historic graveyards counted as contributing sites.  A total of 39 resources contribute to the district; 26 resources are noncontributing.
 Woodville’s buildings retain an exceptionally high degree of integrity.  The current residents, most descendants of the original residents, have taken pride in maintaining the original appearance of their ancestral seats.  All of the buildings built prior to 1927 are contributing with the exception of the rectory.  The following inventory lists the properties geographically, beginning with the northern most building and proceeding to the south on the east side of the central spine, Highway 11, then from north to south along the west side of the road.  Historical information and dates contained in the following inventory list were obtained from the strong family histories and traditions which have been passed down to the present, as well as from research in primary documents such as deeds and census records.  The major written secondary source is a detailed history of Woodville written in 1894 by life-long resident Dr. Charles Smallwood.  No archaeological investigations have been done in Woodville to date, but a village like this in continuous habitation since the eighteenth century is certain to have the potential for significant archaeological resources.

 Resource Identity Key:  Contributing (C)   Noncontributing (NC)
Property and Resource Types:  Building (B)   Site (S)   Structure (ST)   Object (O)    C1.  (S) St. Frances Methodist Church Cemetery. 
This rectangular lot on S. Main Street is the original site of St Frances Methodist Church, built in 1845.  The 3-acre lot was donated to the Methodists by Humphrey H. Hardy.  Mrs. Frances Pugh, wife of William Pugh, gave $1,000 for the construction of a sanctuary.  A handsome Greek Revival-Italianate building with a central entrance tower and slave gallery was built.  In 1896 church members from Lewiston succeeded in persuading the congregation to move the church to a new site so that it was closer to the Lewiston members. Plans are now being made to move the church , now unused, back to its original site. (Historic Woodville moved and restored the church in 2000).  Approximately 75 graves stand in the plat, nicely landscaped, with cedars, magnolias, and hardwoods.  The earliest gravestones are a group of marble headstones from the 1850s, including one for Linney P. Clark (1849-1852), and one for Mrs. Mary A. Rawls (1810-1854).  The majority of the gravestones mark early 20th century graves; obviously the cemetery remained in use after relocation of the church.

 C2.  (B) Garriss-Griffin House.  509 S. Main St.  1927. 
 This 1-1/2 story brick bungalow, three bays wide, consists of a side-gabled main block with a front-gabled porch with porte-cochere extending sideways from the porch.  The brick veneer walls are laid in running bond, the overhanging roof eaves are boxed, with knee brackets.  Six-over-one sash, in sets of three on the main façade, illuminate the house.  The front door is glazed, with a three-panel transom.  Each gable end is covered with wood shingles, the front gable features a tripartite window, the side gables have regular sash.  Heavy brick posts with battered upper sections and concrete trim support the front porch and porte-cochere.  The main façade also features a gabled dormer with triple sash window. Only a few minor alterations have been made to the house.  The south bay of the front porch has been screened.  At the rear, two small shed-roofed rooms were added for storage.  The interior remains as intact as the exterior, with the original plaster and wood finish, including a Classical Revival-style mantel in the living room.  The room to the rear, accessible from a side porch door, was utilized by Dr. Garriss as a home medical office.  Its unusually wide closet contains shelves where he kept supplies.  The mantel in this room is of brick in the Craftsman style.  The attic, accessible by a Craftsman-style stair in a rear hallway, contains three bedrooms, a bath, and large storage room. The house was built for Dr. Frank H. Garriss, a bachelor, in 1927.  The Johnson House stood on this site; some of the timbers from this house were used in the Garriss House framework, and are visible in the attic.  He resided here until 1947 when he sold it to Burges and Mary Lee Griffin.  Mrs. Griffin still lives here. (She died in 2007).

NC 2a.  (B) Garage.  1920s, altered c 1960.   1-story frame building with deep hip roof, exposed rafter tails.  About 1960 Burges Griffin converted it to a recreation room by enclosing the garage doors with plain weatherboard, 2/2 sash windows and a front door

NC 2b.  (B) Playhouse.  C. 1960.   Small 1-story frame side-gable building set on concrete block piers, with exposed rafter tails, 4/4 sash, and plain weatherboard.  This was built by Burges Griffin.

NC 2c.  (B) former Woodville Post Office.  Early 19th century.   Small, 1-story front-gabled frame building that was moved to the rear of the house lot from an unknown location, perhaps from directly on the main road.  The framework features straight saw marks and handmade T-nails indicating construction prior to the mid-19th century.  The plan contains two rooms with a central brick chimney.  Raking cornices finish the gable ends, side eaves are boxed.  Four-over-four sash windows illuminate the building.  It is extremely deteriorated and overgrown.

 C3.  (B)  Averitt-Pugh-Thompson House.  C.1860, c 1917.   This antebellum house has a classic Greek Revival-Italianate form:  two-story, three-bay double pile frame house with hipped roof, two interior brick chimneys, and large windows with Italianate hood molds.  However, it underwent a heavy remodeling in the Craftsman Tudor style about 1917.  Exterior features that are apparently original include the high brick pier foundation, boxed eaves, and hood molds.  Other exterior finish such as the leaded glass entrance probably dates from the remodeling.  The main entrance consists of a double door, each leaf with horizontal panels, with a transom and sidelights of leaded glass in the Tudor style.  A front-gabled one-bay porch shelters the entrance with Doric Columns.  This apparently replaced a full-facade one-story porch built about 1917.  The fenestration, large paired one-over-one sash on the upper main façade and large single 2/2 sash on the side elevations, probably date from the remodeling.  The house is covered in plain siding.  A one-story hipped rear ell containing a large kitchen apparently dates from the remodeling. The interior was given a new floor plan and new finish about 1917 to carry out the Craftsman Tudor style.  One enters a large living room, and smaller parlor to the right.  Between the two rear rooms is a wide stair hall, with a Craftsman-style stair ascending to the second floor.  All interior doors are c. 1917 replacements of five horizontal panels, with one set of French doors.  Original Greek Revival/Italianate-style mantels remain in the entrance room, right rear room, and in the four upstairs bedrooms.  Each of these features pilasters supporting an arched lintel and molded shelf:  the entrance hall mantel is of slate and marble, the others are of wood. Local citizens have always believed that the house was built by Colonel Jesse Averitt, who purchased this tract in 1820.  He lived here in the early 1830s but moved to Florida, and in 1848 sold the 120 acre tract, "being the place whereon I formerly lived" to Joseph James Pugh (Bertie Co. HH202).  Pugh, the son of William Alston Pugh, apparently constructed the present house about 1860 to replace the earlier house, and lived here with his family until his death in 1880.  William Clark Thompson (1836-1895), a son of Lewis Thompson, purchased it, but it was vacant or rented to tenants until Thompson’s son Lewis Whitmel Thompson remodeled it in 1917 and lived here from 1918 to his death in the 1950s.  In the late 1950s Lewis Thompson’s widow, his son and his wife were still living here.  Roswell and Emily West are the current owners. (house has been abandoned for 2 years now)

 C 3a.  (B) Meat House. C. 1860.   Small front-gabled meat house with steep gabled roof, raking cornices, plain siding, front batten door.

C 3b.  (B) Quarters.  Antebellum, early 20th century.   In the early 20th century, four one-room outbuildings were moved from behind the Averitt-Pugh-Thompson House into the woods north of the house and attached to create quarters for the Thompson family cook. Three of them were arranged in a row, and the fourth was set behind them, connected by a breezeway.   Several of the outbuildings have hand-hewn frames, but all were extensively remodeled when they were moved, and the structure is now quite deteriorated.  The easternmost room contains a wooden mantel identical to the Greek Revival/Italianate mantels in the main house.

 C 4.  (B) Thomas W. Griffin House.  1917.   This remarkably intact Colonial Revival-style house was built in 1916-1917 from the plans of architect Philip B. Moser of Norfolk, Virginia.  The original blueprints are in the possession of the family.  The 1-1/2 story frame house is five bays wide, with a side-gable form covered by a steep gambrel roof and a full-façade shed dormer.  A one-story engaged porch covers the main façade, and two interior brick chimneys project from the roof.  While the form is Colonial Revival, finish details have the simple, blocky proportions of the Craftsman style.  The main entrance, a  single glazed door, has a wide transom and sidelights.  Sash, set singly and in groups, are 6/1 sash with plain surrounds.  Plain siding covers the house.  Eaves are boxed and molded, with eave returns on the front and rear shed dormers.  Doric posts and a plain railing of Craftsman proportions enclose the porch.  At the rear, a one-story ell, the width of the main block contains the kitchen and original screened porch.  Behind this, a two-car garage was attached in recent years.
 The interior is finished in Craftsman style, with a stair in the corner of the entrance hall, brick Craftsman mantels, French doors between the main rooms, and, in the dining room, a built-in china cabinet with stained glass doors.  Mantels in the dining room and upstairs bedrooms are of wood, of Craftsman and Classical Revival design.  In the center of the house, a stair hall contains the service stair to the three bedrooms and a sewing room.
 John Samuel Griffin purchased a 400 acre farm on this site in 1870 (Bertie County  D.B. 78, 350).  In 1922, through a quitclaim deed, J.S. Griffin’s two daughters gave their brothers, T.W. and C.B. Griffin, 250 acres of the farm in joint ownership.  (Bertie County D.B. 223, 170) T.W. Griffin had his residence built prior to the division of his father’s farm.  The Griffin brothers farmed this property jointly until T.W.’s death in 1934.  His two children, Margaret and Thomas Griffin, were given the 144 acres on which their home stands by all of the heirs (Bertie County D.B. 602,669).

 C 4a.  (B) Delco Building. c. 1917.  Small brick side-gabled building.

C 4b.  (B) Well House.  c. 1917.   Small brick side-gable building laid in one-to-six common bond.

C 4c.  (B) Smokehouse.  c. 1917.   Front-gabled frame building with two front doors.

C 4d.  (B) Barn.  c. 1917.  One-story front-gable frame barn with flanking open sheds.

C 4e.  (B) Storehouse.  c. 1917.  Front-gabled frame building with two front doors.

C 4f.  (B) Sweet Potato House.  c. 1917.   Front-gabled frame building with front door and front sash window.

C 4g.  (B) Cook’s House.  1920s.  Small side-gable frame house with front door, front shed porch, and 6/6 sash windows on the sides and rear.  This was moved here from an unknown location.

NC 4h.  (B) "Peter’s House."  1920s.   Small side-gabled frame quarters with interior brick flue, plain siding.  This was moved here from another farm.  It was the quarters of Peter, a hired hand.

C 4i.  (B) Brooder House. 1920s.   Traditional shed-roofed frame building with an end door and south-facing openings.

NC 4j.  (B) Garage.  1930s.   Side-gabled frame 2-car garage.

NC 4k.  (ST) Vehicle Shed.  1960s.   Frame shelter for farm vehicles.

  NC 5. (B) Rectory (Wooten-Grant-Griffin House).  c. 1876   Gable-and-wing frame house, 2-story, with two interior brick chimneys.  The house has be remodeled and enlarged in several phases, yet it retains its original plain siding.  Doric corner boards, four-panel front door with transom and sidelights, 6/6 sash, wide surrounds with drip molding, and overhanging boxed eaves.  A one-bay, one-story porch with heavy brick pier now shelters the front door.  The original floor plan of center stair hall and two rooms flanking the center chimney remains on the west side of the house, but the partition wills of on-story east wing have been removed.  Wide simple trim, a delicate original stair railing, and two Italianate wooden mantels remain.
 About 1876 the house was built on this six-acre lot as the rectory for Grace Episcopal Church, located a short distance to the west.  Smallwood states that this lot was given to the church by Mrs. Margaret Thompson, wife of Lewis Thompson.  The first rector to live here was Rev. Edward Wooten. It continued as the rectory until 1904, when Grace Church sold the property to John A. Grant.  Grant sold the property to Thomas and Levi Sumner soon afterward, who in turn sold it to C.B. Griffin in 1915.  Louise Griffin, C.B.’s wife, lived in the house until her death about 1978.  In 1982 it was acquired by her grandson, John Griffin, who now lives here with his family.

 NC 5a.  (B) Dairy Barn. c. 1930.    1-story frame, side-gabled building with plain siding, exposed rafter tails, and large sliding door on the west façade.

NC 5b.  (ST) Pool.   5c. (B) Pool Building. c.1990.   In-ground swimming pool and small shed-roofed pump house.

NC 6.  (B) House.  c. 1990.   1-story, three-bay, side-gable frame house with vinyl siding, 6/6 sash. 

  C 7.  (B) Grace Episcopal Church.  1854.   This intact Gothic Revival frame church has a front-gable form with a central entrance tower and a nave one bay wide and three bays deep.  At the rear is a slightly offset one-bay chancel with flanking shed-roofed auxiliary rooms.  The building features a stuccoed brick pier foundation, plain siding with corner boards, and boxed eaves with wide frieze boards.  The entrance tower has three entrances, each a pointed arch door, of original board-and-batten construction, in the front and side elevations.  The second story of the tower has pointed arch openings with original louvered ventilators; atop stands a wood-shingled belfry.  Nave windows have pointed arch openings with a simple surround with keystone, louvered shutters, and colored glass and stained glass sash.
The interior is equally intact, with flat-paneled wainscot, plaster walls, and wide Greek Revival surrounds in the nave, and Gothic Revival hood molds with crosses in the chancel area.  A pair of large curvilinear brackets forms a screen which separate the nave from the chancel, containing the altar.  Pews are replacement.
 The church is said to have been built by Lewis Thompson.  Credit for donation of the land is contradictory in historical documents.  An 1856 deed for the adjacent property refers to a "lot of 70 yards square, sold by said William [Augustus Pugh] to trustees for the use of the Episcopal Church." (Bertie County LL 140)  Smallwood, in his recollections, states that the church plot was donated by Dr. H.G. Williams (brother-in-law of William Augustus Pugh).

  C 7a.  (S) Cemetery.  1850s-20th century.    Surrounding the church is the cemetery, which contains several hundred gravestones of marble and granite.  The oldest gravestone original to the cemetery is a marble ledger for Lewis Thompson (1808-1867)  It bears the signature  "Gaddess Bros. Balt. Md. "  Later gravestones follow monument form rather than ledger form.  Two round-arched marble headstones, signed "J.D. Couper, Norfolk," commemorate William A. Pugh (1819-1870) and his wife Harriet T. Pugh (1821-1884).  A beloved slave of the Thompson family is buried beneath a segmental-arched marble headstone with the inscription "In memory of Mammy.  Milly Thompson.  Died March 18, 1883."  A group of four marble ledgers for the Thompson family, freshly cleaned and bearing the signature of "Robt. Dalrymple Norfolk."  These were recently moved to the cemetery from the old family graveyard west of Woodville to the north of Weeping Mary Road.  The ledgers commemorate Hezekiah Thompson, Thomas Whitmel Thompson, Mary Bond Thompson, and Thomas Thompson, who died between 1817 and 1836.  The cemetery is well landscaped with large boxwoods and old cedar trees. (Since this study, other earlier family graves have also been moved from endangered sites to this cemetery, as well as to St. Frances cemetery: Pughs/Clarks/Smallwoods.)

NC 7b.  (B) Sunday School Building.  c. 1960.    One-story frame, front gable building with plain siding, 6/6 sash windows, boxed eaves.

  C 8.  (B) William A. Pugh House.  c.1815.   The Pugh House is the best-preserved pre-Civil War house in Woodville.  The two-story, five-bay, side-gable frame showcases the skill of finish carpenters and plasterers in the vernacular Roanoke River Valley interpretation of the Federal style.  The house rests on a high brick foundation, with exterior end brick chimneys and partial basement.  Chimneys are laid in one-to-three common bond, with paved shoulders.  Molded siding and molded cornerboards, boxed eaves with decorative patternboards and raking cornices finish the exterior.  9/9 sash illuminate the first story; 9/6 sash the second story.  The focus of the façade is the center bay entrance, a wide door of nine flat panels set within an ornate entablature of Doric posts, fanlight with swag-patterned muntins, and a wide molded surround with keystone and pedimented arch.  A one-bay, front-gabled entrance porch with Doric posts shelters the door.  The rear features an original 2-story ell with exterior end chimney and identical finish to the main block.  A one-story kitchen addition extends from the ell, and a one-story screened porch stretches the length of the ell.
 The interior is an equally intact display of exuberant Federal finish.  The plan consists of a wide center hall with staircase partially recessed into the north parlor, with one room on each side of the hall on the first floor and second floor.  The ell contains the dining room, with built-in china closet, on the first floor and an enclosed corner stair to the above bedroom.  The most ornate wood and plasterwork is located in the hall and south parlor.  The hall features a plaster ceiling medallion and horseshoe arches over the doors into the side rooms.  Its wainscot has a cove-molded chair rail, and a heavy molded ceiling cornice.  The open-string stair has a square newel, ramped handrail with slender balusters.  The ceiling support which braces the upstairs wall at the recessed landing, and the railing of the second flight of stairs, appears to have been altered at some time to improve structural support.  The south parlor contains a magnificent tripartite mantel with reeding, fretwork, dentil work and moldings.  The flush-sheathed wainscot has a delicate wave patterned chair rail.  Three-part moldings accent the openings.  The hall door is surmounted by a horseshoe plaster arch, balanced by a crossetted arch over the mantel and identical arches centered on the east and west walls.  The ceiling contains a plaster medallion and curved molding edging the wall.  The north parlor contains a flush-sheathed wainscot with reeded chair rail and simpler Federal mantel.  Throughout  the rest of the house are handsome Federal mantels, doors with six flat panels, molded surrounds, and wainscots with plastered walls.
 According to family tradition, this house was built between 1812 and 1815 by William Alston Pugh (1776-1836), brother of Whitmel Hill Pugh, who lived at Woodville Plantation across the road.  In 1812 Whitmel gave "a small plot of land containing 18 acres on the E side of the Road" to "my beloved Brother William Pugh" [Bertie County V745].  Whitmel had been living at Woodville since 1806, and apparently wanted William to build nearby, so he gave him a choice building lot directly across the road from his own house.  Dr. Charles Smallwood’s "Recollections of Woodville" in the early 1830s mentions that, below Jesse Averitt’s place "Mr. William Alston Pugh lived in a large grove opposite the old store."  In 1845 William’s lands were divided, and lot number 1, the home tract, described as "All the tract of Land on which the Mansion House is situated in Woodville containing thirty five acres more or less, bounded by the lands of Lewis Thompson, Jesse Averitt and others" was deeded to William’s son William Augustus Pugh.  [Bertie Co. D.B. GG338]  According to Dr. Smallwood, the Pugh daughter, Laura, married Dr. H.F. Williams and eventually got the homeplace.  Their daughter Helen married Mr. Phelps and lived in the homeplace.  C.B Griffin is the present owner. (update 2008: John M. Griffin, sold it in 2005; restoration was begun, then abruptly halted; , it is now on the market again. It differs now from the above description… the chimneys and front and side porch have been removed, as well as the kitchen; it has a new foundation).

 C 8a.  (B) Meat House.  c.1815.   One-story front-gabled frame building covered with wide flush sheathing.  The front batten door has wide strap hinges.  The framework is pit-sawn, and appears to rest directly on the ground.

C 8b.  (B) Dairy.  Early 19th century.   One-story, side-gable frame outbuilding with two rooms accessed by two batten doors with wide strap hinges attached with rosehead nails.  The building has molded siding and flush raking cornices.  The east room has a horizontal vent, with rounded slatwork, above the doorway.

C 8c.  (B) Tenant House.  Antebellum?   One-story side-gable house with two rooms, each with its own front door, a central brick chimney, 6/6 sash windows, and engaged front porch.  A portion of the house has flush sheathing, with plain siding elsewhere.  The eaves are finished with raking cornices and boxed cornices.  This was refinished on the interior in the early 20th century, and is now uninhabited and deteriorated.  This is believed to be of antebellum construction, and may have served as a slave quarter.

 C 9.  (B) Thompson-Urquhart House.  early 19th century.  C. 1840.   Set well back from the highway within a grove of large hardwood trees, the Thompson-Urquhart House is a well-preserved vernacular Greek Revival plantation house.  According to family tradition, the house was built for Lewis Thompson about 1840.  The two-story, three bay, hipped roof house, of frame construction with exterior end brick chimneys, follows a locally popular form in the second quarter of the nineteenth century.  Its exterior finish is Greek Revival, including plain siding, Doric corner boards, wide frieze, overhanging boxed eaves, double center door, each leaf of three raised panels, with a five-pane transom.  Large 6/6 sash "jib" windows, with a side-hinged panel beneath the window which allows it to function as a door, flank the front door.  The one-story wrap-around porch has simple chamfered posts and plain railing that are recent replacements for mid-twentieth century iron porch posts.  A documentary photograph shows a fanciful sawnwork porch with openwork posts with lacy brackets and sawnwork railing that may have been antebellum.
 The house appears to be architecturally uncomplicated until one walks around the rear where a pair of one-room, 1-1/2-story wings, of Federal style, project from the rear corners.  These have such features as steep gable roofs, flush raking cornices and tall narrow windows that indicate an early nineteenth century construction date, thus predating the main block.  The interior finish reflects the same dichotomy between the main block and rear wings as the exterior.  The main block consists of a wide center stair hall, with a transverse hall at the rear that leads to the wings.  On each side of the center hall is a large room at both levels.  A combination of surrounds outlines the openings in the main block.  The windows of the front rooms have Greek Revival corner block surrounds, while interior door openings have Federal molded surrounds.  All doors have six raised panels.  Main block rooms have flush wainscots.  The stair has sawnwork brackets, a turned newel post and turned balustrade.  The first floor main block mantels are replacements; the second floor bedroom mantels are of original Federal design.  In the rear wings, each of which serves as a bedroom, Federal surrounds and mantels finish the rooms.  The south wing has a second room that appears to be original.  It contains a corner fireplace with an early Federal Mantel with deep raised panels.
 One plausible explanation of the discrepancy in architectural character between the main block and the wings is that the house began as a Federal era tripartite form.  The two rear wings may have been side wings that were moved to the rear to allow for expansion of the main block.  If this scenario is true, then Lewis Thompson actually overbuilt an earlier house about 1840, although Dr. Charles Smallwood states unequivocally that Lewis Thompson built the residence.  The land had been in the Thompson family for some time.  At his death in 1827, Lewis’s father, Thomas Whitmel Thompson, willed his sons Hezekiah and Lewis all of his extensive land holdings in Bertie County.  According to Smallwood, Hezekiah lived near Woodville until his death in 1836, and Lewis lived in the same house until he built a new house about 1840.  Hezekiah must have lived in his father’s home place, left him by will.  In addition to the thousands of acres of river bottom and swamp land which he left to both sons, he willed an eight-acre tract to Lewis if he "should wish to build him a house and to settle and live thereon."  It seems that Thomas wanted to insure that Lewis had a good house site, since his brother was inheriting the home place.  The eight-acre tract, probably the site where the Thompson-Urquhart House stands, must have been the highest, driest site on Thomas’s property.  [Thomas Thompson Will, 1826, N.C. State Archives]    Kate F. Urquhart of Connecticut is the present owner. (As of 2008 her niece, Margaret Urquhart, is current owner)

 C 9a.  (B) Office.  c. 1840.   One-story frame side-gabled house with central brick chimney, two rooms, and engaged front porch.  Although there is considerable replacement fabric on the exterior, the interior retains high beaded baseboards, original chair rail, a four raised panel door, and one original simple Federal mantel.  The original function of this building is unknown, but it has always been known as the office. (In 1992, remodeled into a 1 br guest house).

C 9b.  (B) Roland’s House.  c. 1850.   Tall, 1-story frame, side-gable building with exterior end brick chimney laid in random common bond with stepped shoulders.  The house has plain siding, flush raking cornice, and 4/4 sash.  The interior consisting of one room has extremely high ceiling, wide horizontal sheathing, and a vernacular mantel.  This is known as Roland’s House, perhaps for an overseer on the farm many years ago, although its form resembles a plantation office.

C 9c.  (B) Storage Building.  c. 1840   One-room side-gable frame building with replacement siding, flush raking cornices, boxed eaves, and a board-and-batten door.

C 9d.  (B) Cellar.  Late 19th century.   Front-gabled brick one-room building, laid in one-to-four common bond, with a deep basement with dirt floor and stuccoed, whitewashed walls.  The overhanging front and rear eaves have an open vent, and latticework brickwork vents are centered in each gable end.  Known as the cellar, this is an uncommon type of outbuilding and is believed to have been built for the storage of fruits and vegetables.

C 9e.  (B) Dairy.  c. 1840.   Two-room, side-gable frame building with flush raking cornices, boxed cornices, 4/4 sash and two front doors.  One door, apparently original, has rosehead nails and wide strap hinges.  This is known as the dairy, but probably functioned for general storage.

C 9f.  (B) Ice House.  Late 19th century.   One-room brick front-gabled building, laid in common bond, with an overhanging front gable with open ventilator along the eaves.  Each gable end has a small shuttered opening.  On the interior is a deep basement with bare brick walls and a dirt floor.

C 9g.  (B) Slave Cabin.  Antebellum.   Frame 2-room side-gable house with central chimney, two rooms.  The straight-sawn framework indicates a date of about 1850.  The house is set on concrete block, and appears to have been reworked in the 20th century, with replacement siding, 4/4 sash, and interior replacement sheathing.

  C 10.  (B) Hill-Pugh-Mizell House.  1801.   The hill-Pugh-Mizell House, an ornate Federal tripartite house built in 1801, is apparently the oldest house that survives in Woodville and gave its name to the community.  (since this study in 1997, it has been determined that the Bazemore house, c. 1750-1790, predates this house)  An 1801 dated brick was located in the rear chimney of the center block until its destruction in the hurricane of 1996.  The house has lost its two-story entrance porch.  The only original fabric visible on the exterior is an exquisite fanlight over the front door, and the pedimented front gable, with a Palladian window set within moldings, a heavy modillion cornice, and sawtooth dentils.  The central window is capped by a fanlight with keystone, with flanking smaller sash framed by Doric colonnettes with heavy modillion cornices.  The house has a replacement brick foundation, three rebuilt exterior end brick chimneys, replacement sash, and replacement beaded siding.  Although most of the exterior fabric is replacement, the new materials emulate the original materials in type and form.  The exterior had suffered from years of deterioration and extensive damage from Hurricane Fran in 1996 when the present owners began the restoration.  The Hill-Pugh-Mizell House was built in 1801 for John Pugh Hill, who died the following year.  The 1801 brick had the initials "JPH," apparently John Pugh Hill.  His widow, Mary Whitmel Bryan Hill, married her cousin Dr. Whitmel Hill Pugh in 1806 and the two made their home in her house.  [Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, V, 153]  Pugh, a physician and state legislator in the 1810s, named the house Woodville after an estate in an English novel.  In 1818 Pugh moved to Lafouche Parish, Louisiana and remained there. Whitmel deeded "a lof of land….called Woodville the lot on which I formerly resided……together with the buildings and conveniences apurtaining" to his son William Whitmel Pugh in 1831  (Bertie Co. CC642).  William Whitmel Pugh moved to Louisiana during the 1830s and built Woodlawn Plantation.  He sold it to Dr. James Walton in 1835 (Bertie Co. DD344).  Dr. James Walton died about 1841, leaving it to his wife Emily and their children.  Emily remarried a Jenkins.  At her death about 1861 she gave the property to her son William Walton, who sold it to W. Dorsey Mizelle in 1889.  In 1923 Mizell died and his daughter, Emily, inherited the house.  She married Burges Urquhart Jr. and lived in the house until her death in 1974.  Their grandson Burges Urquhart, IV is the present owner.

 C 10a.  (S) Graveyard.   South of the house, in a field, lies the family graveyard of the Walton and Mizell families.  The five Mizell graves, for William Dorsey Mizell (1849-1923) and his wife Elizabeth Davis (1858-1935) and their children who died in 1892 and 1900, are set within a cast-iron fence.  Outside the fence stands a marble obelisk for Samuel James Walton (1877-1893) and an undated monument for Sarah Tyler Walton, the mother of Ella and Agnes Walton.  The Waltons owned the property from 1839 to 1889.

NC 10b.  (B) Tenant House.  c. 1900.   Deteriorated 1-story side-gable house with 6/6 sash, much of plain siding is missing. NC 10c.  (B) Office.  1997.   This reproduction of a Federal period plantation office is now under construction.  It is a one-room, side-gabled frame building with an exterior end brick chimney and tall narrow windows.

NC 10d.  (ST) Equipment Shed.  c. 1990.   Steel frame shelter for farm equipment.

NC 10e.  (ST) Equipment Shed.  c. 1970.   Wood-frame shelter for farm equipment.

NC 10f.  (B) Garage. 1930s.  Front-gabled frame 1-car garage with overhanging, bracketed eaves.

NC 10g.  Inground pool (ST) and NC 10h.  (B) Pool house.  1990s.  Inground pool and framework set on a concrete slab for a pool house under construction.  

C 11.  (B) Whitehead-Urquhart House.  c. 1917.   Intact, 1-story, three-bay Craftsman bungalow with engaged front porch, set on a 2.5  acre rectangular lot a short distance from Highway 11 in a grove of large hardwood trees.  The side-gable frame bungalow is covered with plain siding, and has overhanging eaves with exposed rafter tails and elbow brackets.  Large fixed sash of 10/1 panes with crossetted surrounds flank the front door, a glazed and paneled Craftsman design.  Side and rear windows are pairs of 9/1 sash.  The front porch has porch posts of brick bases, with tapering brick upper sections with decorative brick caps and a solid  brick balustrade.  The house has a lower south wing containing the kitchen and a side porch with brick posts, now screened.  A hipped porch across the rear elevation may be an early addition.
 The interior retains its original, open floor plan and Craftsman finish.  The parlor and dining room, linked by a partial wall supported by classical posts, each have a corner fireplace with Neoclassical mantel with mirrored overmantel.  In the dining room, French doors open to the side porch.  Both rooms have parquet flooring.  Three bedrooms, a kitchen, a hall and bath complete the house.
 Burges Urquhart (1847-1903) had this house built about 1917 for his daughter, Patty (Martha Thompson Urquhart) and her husband Clifford A. Whitehead, a dentist.  In the 1950s the house became the property of Burges Urquhart, III and his wife Carol.  Cora Early now owns and occupies the house.

 C 11a.  (B) Maid’s House.  c. 1917.   One-room, side-gable, board-and-batten quarters with flush raking cornices and boxed eaves.

C 11b.  (B) Smokehouse.  c. 1917.   Front-gable frame building with overhanging gable front and German siding.

NC 11c.  (ST) Equipment Shed.  c. 1950  Frame shelter for farm equipment, with wooden posts and a metal roof.

  NC 12.  (B) Joe Whitehead House.  c. 1965.   Brick ranch house, three bays wide, with side gable roof, front gable wing, and front porch with wrought-iron posts.

 NC 12a.  (B)  Garage.  c. 1965.   Front-gable, 2-car brick garage.

NC 12b.  (B) Outbuilding.  c.1965.   Frame, front-gable storage building with exposed rafter tails.

NC 12c.  (B) Tenant House.  c. 1930   Two-room, 1-story frame house of side-gable form, with front hipped porch.  The house has 4/4 sash, a small interior chimney, and is covered with asphalt brick siding.

  C 13.  (B) Bazemore House.  early 1800s. (since 2004, when Historic Woodville began restoration of this house, architectural historians determined it was built between 1750-1790, and the kitchen early 1800s)  The Bazemore House, the only example in Woodville of a coastal cottage is a 1-1/2 story, side-gable, five-bay wide frame house with an engaged front porch and one exterior end chimney (the other chimney has collapsed).  Vacant for many years, the house is overgrown and deteriorated.  It served as a tenant house during most of the 20th century and was therefore never modernized, this much original fabric remains.  The house is covered with plain siding, with some original beaded siding remaining.  Nine-over-six sash windows are set in molded surrounds.  The surviving chimney has double, flush shoulders and is laid in random common bond.  The porch retains its original molded cornice and beaded ceiling boards.  In the early 20th century, a rear shed, with detached kitchen connected by a breezeway , was added.  The interior retains its original center hall plan, flat-paneled wainscots, six flat-paneled doors, three-part molded surrounds, and one Federal mantel with decorative inset panels.

Said to be the oldest house in Woodville, it has been the residence of Peter B. Martin and family, Noah Thompson and family, Mrs. Robert C. Watson and family, John S. Smallwood and family, and Kenny Bazemore and family (also Pugh family).  By the 1970s it was occupied by tenants. (In 2001 deeded to Historic Woodville, and by 2008 exterior and partial interior completed)

 C 13a.  (B) Pack House.  early 20th century.   1-story side-gable frame building with a single door on the south side and windows that have been boarded up.  A shed room is attached on the east side, and open equipment sheds on the west and north.

 C 14  (B) Thomas W. Thompson House (Canady Hill).  c. 1863.  Intact vernacular Greek Revival-Italianate style house of one-story, double pile form, with original rear shed with a central recessed porch and flanking porch rooms.  A detached kitchen and dining room wing is connected by breezeway that is now enclosed.  The house is set on brick piers, covered with plain siding with corner boards, a wide cornice, and overhanging boxed eaves with curvilinear brackets and pendants.  A variety of original sash pierce the walls; 8/8 sash on the main block, 6/6 sash in the rear porch rooms, and 9/6 sash in the kitchen/dining room section.  Main block windows have wide surrounds with peaked lintels.  The front door is a wide six-flat paneled door with a transom and sidelights set within a wide surround with peaked lintel.  The gabled entrance porch has Doric columns and exaggerated eave returns, with smaller versions of the main roof brackets.  The two interior brick chimneys have unusual wooden caps with Italianate brackets.
 The interior, with its wide center hall, two rooms on each side, and high ceilings, is equally intact.  Throughout the house, including the rear kitchen wing, are flat-paneled wainscots with bulbous moldings and flat paneled aprons beneath the side windows.  Wide four-paneled doors, wide molded surrounds, and Greek Revival mantels finish the rooms.  The center hall has peaked lintels like the exterior trim.  One unusual feature of the plan is a sunroom on the south side, with identical exterior finish to the main block that is accessible through a window in the south rear room or through the porch room.  This is an original or early sunroom, an unusual feature in antebellum North Carolina houses.
 Thomas W. Thompson (1833-1894) was one of two sons of Lewis Thompson.  They inherited their father’s estate at his death in 1867.  Thomas, who married Helen McKenzie Clark, had probably built his house on a parcel of his father’s land a few years before his father’s death.  The house site was known as "Canady Hill," according to recollection of Dr. Charles Smallwood.  At Thomas’s death in 1894 he gave three tracts of land to Burges Urquhart, Senior; "my Hickory Neck plantation and the tract of land known as The Hill and Floyd tracts" (T.W. Thompson Will, 1894, N.C. State Archives).  The present owner is Burges Urquhart III.

 C 14 a.  (B) Storage Building.  c. 1863.   Two-room side-gable frame building with flush raking cornices, boxed cornices, plain siding, and two batten front doors.

 C 14b.  (B) Dairy.  c. 1863.   Small building with ventilation opening on all sides beneath the roof eaves.  The pyramidal roof has a wide overhang on all four sides.  It is covered with plain siding, the front door is missing.

C 14c.  (B) Pack House.  1920s.   Two-story front gable frame storage building with plain siding, side shed room.

NC 14d.  (ST) Equipment Shed.  c. 1950.   Frame shelter for farm equipment.

NC 14e.  (B) Shed.  1940s.   Small gabled frame building.  

Section 8:  Statement of Significance

 Woodville Historic District in western Bertie County near the Roanoke River, is a rare survival of a plantation village – a cluster of six plantation houses built facing each other along the old Roxobel-Windsor Road (now State Highway 11).  The plantations of the Pugh, Thompson, Urquhart, and other families were located elsewhere, along the fertile river and creek bottomlands but the houses were built at Woodville on high ground to enjoy healthy living conditions and social interaction.  During the first half of the nineteenth-century village families also constructed an academy, two churches, a post office, stores and a tavern.  Although only the houses and a church stand today, the village remains recognizable as one of Bertie County’s oldest and most intact communities..  The Pughs, Thompsons, Smallwoods, Urquharts and others who created this village have been highly distinguished in the agricultural and social history and political life of Bertie County.  (A number of village sons and daughters relocated to the Deep South during the antebellum era, where they established cotton and sugar cane plantations in Louisiana and Mississippi and built grand plantation villas.)  The oldest house in the village (since determined to be the Bazemore house, 1750-1790) an ornate Federal tripartite form house built in 1801, was the residence of Dr. Whitmel Hill Pugh, physician, planter and political leader, who named it Woodville.  His brother William Alston Pugh built a large Federal-style house across the road about 1815 that contains some of the most distinguished Federal woodwork and plasterwork in the Roanoke Valley.  About 1840 Lewis Thompson, planter and political leader, constructed a Greek Revival style house.  In 1854 Lewis Thompson built Grace Episcopal Church, an Episcopal chapel of board-and-batten Gothic Revival style at the village crossroads.  About 1860 William Alston Pugh’s son Joseph James Pugh built a large Greek Revival-style house with Italianate details.  Lewis Thompson’s son Thomas W. Thompson built a Greek Revival-Italianate-style house about 1863.  The very intact groupings of outbuilding are the residences, including slave quarters, meat houses, dairies, various storage buildings and even an ice house, contribute to the well-preserved village’s embodiment of the rural life of the entry in nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
 The architecturally-significant buildings of the compact village, set in wooded groves, are nearly invisible to the traveler along the main road, now busy North Carolina 11.  Yet the Woodville Historic District is eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places for its significance under Criterion A as one of the most intact plantation villages surviving in the Roanoke River Valley and under Criterion C for its distinguished collection of nineteenth and twentieth-century buildings embodying the material culture of the planter class in Bertie County.  

Historical Background

 Dr. Charles Smallwood (1828-1899), who grew up in Woodville and served as the area doctor throughout his life, write his childhood recollections of Woodville in 1894.  His vivid descriptions of the families, their houses, their marriages, children, and deaths provide a fascinating window on Woodville in the antebellum era. "The Village of Woodville was originally built by farmers, who owned large farms on the Roanoke River and in the Indian Woods, mostly for the purpose    of locating their families in a healthy place, for the social advantages denied them on widely separated farms and also for the convenience of sending their children to a good school.  Most of the residences were surrounded by large graves of oaks some distance from the road which ran through the village.  It was a beautiful place in those days inhabited by people of wealth and refinement. "[1]
 The antebellum planter families of Woodville—the Pughs, Thompsons and others—began to amass land in the eighteenth century, purchasing hundreds or thousands of acres of swampland and rich river bottomland in the region.  The oldest residence in what became Woodville was built in 1801 (later determined this is the second oldest) for John Pugh Hill on high dry land at a crossroads where the road leading from Roxobel on the north to Windsor on the east joined up with roads to Hill’s and Taylor’s ferries, the two major crossing points of the winding Roanoke River in western Bertie County.  One year later, Whitmel Hill Pugh married Hill’s widow and took up residence in the house, named Woodville.  Pugh, a distinguished Bertie County native, was a physician, a planter who raised a large number of hogs and sold the meat in Richmond, and a state legislator.  With two brothers he emigrated in 1819 to Louisiana, where each established a large cotton plantation.  Eventually the Pugh family converted their plantations to the production of sugar cane, and became one of the most prominent and wealthy families in the state.  They constructed two of the grandest tripartite Classical Revival plantation villas in Louisiana; Woodlawn built in the 1830s by Whitmel W. Pugh (son of Whitmell Hill Pugh), and Madewood, built in the 1840s by Thomas Pugh.  Whitmel Hill Pugh held on to his Woodville plantation and sent his children to Woodville for their education.  His son William W. lived at Woodville until the 1830s when he returned to Louisiana and followed in his father’s footsteps.  Whitmel Hill Pugh died in 1834 after returning from a trip to North Carolina. [2]  Pugh’s younger brother William Alston Pugh built the next house in the village [William A. Pugh House] about 1815 directly across the road on a small parcel given to him by his brother.  William A., unlike his brothers, remained in Woodville throughout his life.  Other heads of household found the location suitable for residences as well, including Noah B. Hinton, Hezekiah Thompson, Col Jesse Averitt, and John Smaw Smallwood (Dr. Smallwood’s father).  Col. Jesse Averitt built his house at the crossroads near William Pugh, where he lived until the late 1840s when he sold off his homeplace and moved to the state of Florida.  

In 1816 the area had sufficient population that a post office named Turner’s Cross Roads was located there.  Other village amenities, such as stores, a school, a hotel, a tailor shop and a blacksmith shop, followed.  Dr. Smallwood recall "the old store that stood just below the old tavern….the country people used to meet on this old road on Saturday drink apple brandy, get drunk and occasionally fight.  I have seen many fights there.  Old Ned Williams, a soldier of the Revolutionary War died there sitting on the steps….. Elections and musters were held there."  The nearest church was Jumping Run Church (also know as Pugh Chapel), located one mile north in Lewiston.   [1] "Recollections of Woodville"
 [2] Whitmel Hill Pugh, Dictionary of North Carolina Biography; Harnett T. Kane, Plantation Parade, 216
 

 In April 1840 the village was named Hotel, after the name of the building where the post office was located.  In 1845 the village received its first church, St. Frances Methodist Church, built with money donated by Mrs. Frances Pugh, wife of William Alston Pugh. [3]  In 1854 Grace Episcopal Church was built on land donated by Dr. H.F. Williams at the corner of the main road and the Windsor road. [4]  The building is said to have been paid for by prominent local planter Lewis Thompson and his wife Margaret.  The Bertie Union Academy, the village school, had been built by the 1830s on the west side of the road on Noah Hinton’s land.  Converted to a house, it stood until 1990.
 About 1840 Lewis Thompson built (or remodeled) a house [Thompson-Urquhart House] on land that he inherited from his father, Thomas Thompson (son of Hezekiah Thompson) or his brother Hezekiah, who died in 1836.  Lewis Thompson (1808-1867), planter and statesman, frequently represented Bertie County in the North Carolina House of Commons and State Senate from 1832-1852, was a member of the General Convention of 1865, and a Trustee of the University of North Carolina from 1848 until his death.[5]   Like the Pughs, the Thompson family belonged to the stratum of North Carolina society which had plantations in the Deep South as well as in their home state.  Thompson owned thousands of acres of land in Bertie County, and a Louisiana sugar plantation inherited through his father-in-law William M. Clark of Bertie County.  In the 1840s and 1850s this sugar plantation seems to have been managed on Thompson’s behalf by his brother-in-law Kenneth M. Clark; subsequently Lewis’s son, William Thompson, moved to Louisiana and ran the plantation. [6]  Lewis’s son Thomas W. settled in Woodville and managed his father’s Bertie County holdings throughout his lifetime.
 The luxurious lifestyle made possible by the large plantations of antebellum Woodville’s families is illuminated by a tax census compiled in 1862 for Woodville District.  Known then as "Hotel," the district, with a population of 124, included 43 white voters and 5 black voters.  The Hotel district’s taxpayers owned 62,093 acres of taxable land worth $565,376 and 1,624 slaves valued at $519,895.  The Thompson, Pugh, and Smallwood families accounted for most of the gold and silver watches, pianos, furniture and "pleasure vehicles" listed in the district. [7]

 [3]  "Recollections of Woodville."
 [4]  "Recollections of Woodville."
 [5]  Lewis Thompson Papers.  These were donated in the 1920s to the University of North Carolina and are now in the Southern Historical Collection.  This biographical information is included in the papers.
 [6]  Sitterson, "Lewis Thompson, A Carolinian and His Louisiana Plantation 1848-1888.  A Study in Absentee Ownership."  The business papers in the Lewis Thompson Collection, dating from 1840-1871, consist chiefly of correspondence, accounts, bills, receipts, clave lists, sharecropping contracts, relating to the production of cotton and corn in Bertie County and sugar in Louisiana, and to the sale of these crops through factors in New York, Norfolk, New Orleans and Baltimore. 
[7]  Confederate Tax Census, 1862.  transcribed 1975-76 by students at Roanoke-Chowan Academy, 7.

The farming operations of Lewis Thompson, far removed from the gracious oak groves of Woodville, are summarized in agricultural censuses and graphically personalized by a diary kept in the 1850s by his overseer, Moore Rawls.  In 1850, Thompson owned 121 slaves on four farms.  His 850-acre farm, probably the "river plantation" which Rawls managed, is valued at $10,000; the other three farms, containing 550, 225, and 35 acres respectively, are each valued at $5,000.  Thompson grew large crops of corn; 6,000 bushels on the 850-acre farm; 3,000 bushels on 550 acres; 870 bushels on 225 acres, and 750 bushels on 35 acres.  Lewis also had $500 invested in a water-powered mill, and employed one worker there who ground 4,000 bushels of the corn in 1850.  His plantations also produced much cotton; 400 bales (bales weighed 400 pounds) from the 850-acre farm; 34 bales from the 500-acre farm; and 3 bales from the 225-acre farm.  No cotton is recorded for the 35-acre farm which produced food crops, including 200 bushels of peas/beans, 50 bushels of Irish potatoes, and 300 bushels of sweet potatoes.  The 850-acre farm also grew large food crops, and produced animal by-products such as wool from a flock of 182 sheep, and 300 pounds of butter from the 32 cows.  It also produced 100 pounds of flax for linen. [8]
 By the time the 1860 agricultural census was taken, Lewis had given the smallest farm, now 66 acres, to his son, Thomas W.  His other holdings were valued at $40,000.  His big farm was by then composed of 1,000 improved acres and 1,000 woodland acres.  He produced 5,300 bushels of corn there and 150 bales of cotton.  His other farms consisted of one with 1,000 improved acres (150 bales of cotton, and 5,300 bushels of corn) and one with 100 improved acres with no cotton but still with large amounts of food crops.  Moore Rawls’s diary puts a human face on the operation of Bertie County plantations. [9]  Rawls chronicled daily events of the river plantation, where there was always work to be done.  He mentioned many of the plantation slaves by name and recorded their daily tasks, such as planting and picking cotton and flax, processing it, and then spinning wool and linen.  A typical entry, January 12, 1853, records "Big Snow.  Anthony and Noah and Luke making horse collars and the rest cutting and burning brush on Johnson (field).  Gin at work today."  A year later on that same date in 1854, Rawls recorded that they "kild 59 hogs….. Anthony and Noah and women work on hog guts.  The river rising fast today."  The height of the Roanoke River was a constant source of concern.  For instance, in March 1854:  "I lost 5 hogs and one sheep by the freshet."  In other passages he recorded "hands building dams, dikes, abutments, causeways, bridges and digging and clearing out drainage ditches."  His great great granddaughter, Mary Margaret Parker, commented in her annotation to the diary that "the same Roanoke River that drowned stock and crops was also a friend.  Man supplies came be  boat to the landing and baled cotton was sent by boat on its way to market."  There are many mentions of making canoes and boats.  Numerous working days were lost and much suffering was caused by the ever-present malarial fever. 
 [8]  Bertie County Agricultural Census, 1850
 [9]  Diary of Moore Rawls, 1851-1858, collection of Mrs. Joseph W. Parker, Windsor, NC; School Essay based on diary, copy in SHPO file.

In August Rawls wrote "all hands sick….. Sick myself."  Rawls also noted social events and the many friends who came to visit.
 Just before the onset of the Civil War, Joseph James Pugh, son of William Alston Pugh, "rebuilt" Col. Jesse Averitt’s old house as a Greek Revival two-story plantation house of Italianate design with elegant window hoods [Pugh-Thompson House]. [10]  Lewis Thompson’s son Thomas W., who had gradually taken over management of his father’s plantations, apparently was in the Confederate Army in 1861, but returned during the war to Bertie County.  He built an Italianate house for himself at the corner of the main road and Hill’s Ferry Road about 1863 [Thomas W. Thompson House].  These were the last houses built in antebellum Woodville.
 The Civil War impacted the fortunes and everyday life of Woodville’s citizens enormously, for when its planters lost their slaves, they lost the manpower on which their plantations depended.  Lewis Thompson’s son William spent the war years in Louisiana, while his daughters Pattie and Mary Bond remained at St. Mary’s School in Raleigh.  In addition to his plantations, Lewis Thompson had many investments, chiefly through New York bankers, and invested heavily in Confederate bonds.
 Following the war’s end Lewis Thompson attempted to re-establish his financial network.  He began to ship cotton through Baltimore instead of exclusively through Norfolk.  The Lewis Thompson papers contain contracts for share cropping and farm labor and letters from William in Louisiana who appeared to have a hard time getting the sugar cane plantation back on track with hired labor.  Lewis Thompson died in early December, 1867, leaving his wife Margaret and sons Tomas and William to settle his vast estate in the midst of the cataclysmic economic political changes of the Reconstruction era.  His daughter, Pattie, had died the year before, and his grief is thought to have hastened his death.
 The post-Civil War years were hard for Woodville citizens, but life went on.  By 1870 overseer Moore Rawls had purchased his own farm with eighty improved acres and 300 acres of unimproved woodland, valued at $1,200.  He paid $300 in wages that year for workers.  He also had three horses, three cows and eight "other" cattle, four sheep, and 25 swine.  Mary Bond Thompson married Burges Urquhart of Southampton County, Virginia in 1871.  The couple lived in her homeplace and raised a large family.  The post office was moved in 1872 to Lewiston, the up-and-coming village just to the north.  About 1876 the Episcopalians built a rectory behind the church on land given by Lewis Thompson’s widow Margaret [Rectory].  In the 1880s the old tavern burned.  When the Roanoke and Tar River Railroad came through the vicinity in 1888, it was routed through Lewiston rather than through Woodville.
 Charles Smallwood’s judgment of Woodville in 1894, near the end of his life, lamented the passing of an era.  "Woodville does not be any means present the same appearance that it did sixty years ago.  The beautiful groves in which many of the residences were placed have been cut up, some of them in parts cultivated.  The old Tavern and the building that replaced it have passed away and the place is bare and lonely."  Yet the virtues of hospitality and kindness "amidst all the changes of fortune, time, and people remain unchanged; and without which properly speaking there could be no Woodville." [11]
 In the early twentieth century the final phase of village development was the construction of three Craftsman-style houses.  Thomas W. Griffin preserved the rural village tradition by building his large Colonial Revival-style Craftsman house in an oak grove on the Windsor road in 1917 [Thomas W. Griffin House].  Burges Urquhart built his daughter Patty and Clifton Whitehead a Craftsman house [Whitehead-Urquhart House] in 1917 on a small lot close to the road across the main road from his house, the old Lewis Thompson place.  In 1927 Dr. Frank Garris built an up-to-date brick Craftsman house [Garris-Griffin House] next to St. Frances Church.  Only two more houses have been erected in the village in the past seventy years---Joe Whitehead’s 1960s ranch house beside Patty and Clifton Whitehead’s house, and a small house constructed in the fork across from Grace Church in recent years. To Dr. Smallwood, the village seemed physically ruined at the end of the nineteenth Century.  Yet to contemporary visitors at the end of the twentieth century, the rural village with its remarkably intact collection of federal and antebellum houses and early 20th century Craftsman infill seems a miracle of preservation.  The families who live in Woodville today, most direct descendants of the builders, cherish the village’s history and architecture and have commissioned this nomination in order to protect it from destructive change.  Their biggest fear is that the main road, the village spine, now designated as Highway 11 and a major north-south truck route, will be widened, thereby destroying the connection between the two sides of the village.

 

The Plantation Village in the Roanoke River Valley:  Woodville’s Social History Context

Woodville was one of several plantation neighborhoods in the Roanoke River Valley, which includes Bertie, Halifax, Hertford, Martin and Northampton counties, where interconnected families of planters and slaves formed rural communities. Another such rural village is Como, located between the Meherrin and Chowan rivers near the Virginia border in northern Hertford County. Across the Roanoke River is adjacent Halifax County lies Dawson Crossroads-Enfield Plantations, an antebellum plantation neighborhood containing a number of distinguished plantation houses and a mid-19th century church.  Scotland Neck, a nearby town, was a prosperous area of interconnected plantations like Woodville, but grew into a town when a railroad came through in 1882. Many such rural communities developed before the Civil War but few survived the breakup of the plantation system after the war and late 19th and 20th-century social and economic changes.  Bertie County and other counties in the region had vast areas of land covered with malaria-infested swamps, isolated by unpassable rivers.  Overland transportation was difficult.  Roads were maintained by adjacent property owners such as Lewis Thompson, who operated two toll gates across roads on his land in the 1860s.

 [10]  "Recollections of Woodville [11]  "Recollections of Woodville"In August  Roads were connected to privately-operated river ferries.  Even today, the Woodville USGS quadrangle map remains almost completely covered with forests and swampland with such names as "Buzzard Point" and "Roquist Pocosin."  The Native American word "pocosin" meant "swamp on a hill," because these areas are actually thick beds of peat moss supporting a dense tangle of low plant growth. [12]  Only a handful of dwellings stand outside of Woodville and the neighboring town of Lewiston.
 [12]  Earley.  "The Swamp That Burns,"  Wildlife in North Carolina (February 1998).
 The Roanoke River provided a navigable waterway from Weldon east to Plymouth and the Albemarle Sound giving planters in southern Bertie County a convenient route for transporting the crops grown in this fertile soil to the closest major market in Norfolk, Virginia.  By 1756 Roanoke Valley settlers were growing tobacco and shipping it to Tidewater Virginia.  Many large plantations developed along the Roanoke and Chowan Rivers in Bertie County during the 1700s, such as the Capehart family’s seat, Scotch Hall, at the mouth of the Roanoke River, the Norfleet family seat, Woodbourne, at Roxobel, and the Pollock Family seat, Runiroi, on the Roanoke River.  By 1860, twenty-five Bertie County plantations had 1,000 acres or more, the greatest number of large plantations of any county in the state.  Scotch Hall with its 8,000 acres and 300 slaves was the largest plantation in Bertie County.  By 1800 large scale cotton production had begun.  Although tobacco and cotton were the major crops, forms were diversified in corn, potatoes, wheat and livestock. [13]
 [13]  Tyler, "A Brief Sketch of Bertie County,"  1985; Mattson, Alexander & Associates, Inc., "Tyrrell County and Northampton County Reconnaissance Level Surveys," 1996; Taves, "The Rural Architectural Heritage of Halifax County, North Carolina," 1989.
In these plantation villages, planters’ wealth was based on the agriculture and forest products of the fertile Roanoke Valley.  Topography, soil and climate combined to make the region ideal for growing crops, especially corn and cotton.  The lands accumulated by Woodville planters, which contained the dark silty loam of the Roanoke River flood plains, were among the most fertile soils in Bertie County.  There were also enormous populations of free-ranging swine, and essential factor in the farm economy.  They were a principal export product, driven overland by the thousands, as well as a product used freely in household consumption [14]  One of Whitmel Pugh’s principal sources of agricultural income in the early 19th century were his vast swine herds whose meat was marketed in Norfolk.
[14] Camp, Influence of Geography on Early North Carolina, 7.
 During the nineteenth century the population of the Roanoke Valley was virtually static.  In 1810 Bertie had 11,318 people and in 1850 it had 12,851.  By the early 19th century wealthy Upper South planters sought opportunities to invest capital and provide profitable employment for surplus slaves in the cotton and sugar growing regions of the southwestern states, such as Louisiana and Mississippi.  Woodville’s small ranks were certainly thinned by such out-migration, members of the Pugh, Thompson, and other Woodville families left for the Deep South.
  The slave-based plantation economy supported a luxurious way of life.  "Planter families enjoyed the pleasures of horse racing, frequent entertaining, travels to northern cities, and well-stocked larders and libraries." [15]  Rural neighborhoods such as Woodville were bound to others in the region and to markets in the United States and throughout the world through complex networks of kinship, politics and trade. [16]
 The replacement of the plantation economy by the tenant farming system and the lure of town life with its consolidated schools, railroad lines, and other conveniences caused the demise of plantation villages by the early twentieth century.  While the plantation landscape of the Roanoke Valley is largely gone, the plantation village of Woodville retains its antebellum appearance because it has always been a compact cluster of small country estates rather than dispersed plantations.[14] Camp, Influence of Geography on Early North Carolina, 7.

 Roanoke River Valley Architecture Context

 Woodville contains a distinguished group of six generally intact Federal and Greek Revival plantation houses, four of them two-story and two of them one-story, set well back from the road in spacious grounds landscaped with large hardwood trees.  The unique blending of vernacular building traditions and stylish patternbook design found throughout the Roanoke Valley region is represented in microcosm in Woodville.  Most of the formal rural residences of the antebellum era were in the northern tier of eastern North Carolina counties where the plantation economy supported a luxurious way of life.  Planter families of the region "built and furnished their homes wit a fashion-conscious blend of regional and urban elements…. Working with local or regional artisans…..planters incorporated into their houses a dynamic blend of stylish models, imported items, customary forms, and various craftsmen’s personal styles." [17]
 A small group of tripartite plantation villas survive in the Roanoke Valley.  The tripartite Whitmel Pugh House of 1801, the only example in Bertie County, represents the delicate craftsmanship of local artisans.  Its ornate front gable pediment is finished like that of The Hermitage, the home of Thomas Blount Hill and Rebecca Norfleet built about 1800 in Halifax County.
 Most substantial Bertie County antebellum dwellings conform to two architectural forms; the coastal cottage (a one-story house with engaged front porch), or the two-story side-gable house with a small front porch.  Although single-pile, these two-story houses were generously proportioned, sometimes being five or even seven bays wide.  The Bazemore House, a one-story coastal cottage, has ornate Federal interior finish similar to that of the ca. 1807 King-Freeman-Speight House in Bertie County.  Its parlor mantel is quite similar to a mantel in the Bazemore House.  The William Pugh House, a two-story side-gable house, is one of the most intact ornate Federal houses in eastern North Carolina.  Its exuberant plasterwork was surely executed by the same artisan who worked at Woodbourne, a tripartite house built c. 1810 at Roxobel for Thomas Figuers Norfleet.
[15]  Bishir, North Carolina Architecture, 82.
[16]  Ibid.
[17]  Bishir and Southern, A Guide to the Historic Architecture o Eastern North Carolina, 295;  North Carolina Architecture, 82.
The ca. 1840 Thompson-Urquhart House is a characteristic two-story, three-bay hip roofed Greek Revival plantation house of the Roanoke Valley.  Its original airy sawnwork porch (now replaced) was a specialty of the type.  A similar house of about 1840 is Hickory Hill, in the Hamilton vicinity of Martin County across the Roanoke River.  The Averitt-Pugh-Thompson House, a two-story double pile house in the locally popular Greek Revival-Italianate idiom, retains hood molds similar to those at the nearby Lewis Cotton House (demolished) which stood near Roxobel.  Before it lost its original porch, the Averitt-Pugh-Thompson House may have resembled the Cedars (Speight House) in nearby Edgecombe County, built ca. 1860.  Its design features the Italianate vernacular at its liveliest, with hoodmolds and fanciful lattice porch. [18]   When Thomas Thompson built his Italianate one-story house on Canady’s Hill about 1863 he may have been influenced by William Ranlett’s popular 1847 pattern book, The Architect.  The Garrett-Wiggins House in Edgecombe County was built in 1854, its lavish Italianate details probably drawn from his book. [19]   The 1845 St. Frances Methodist Church, attributed to regional builder Thomas Bragg is a simple Greek Revival building with a fine interior (directors of HW found proof in Chas. Smallwood’s diaries that Thomas Bragg was the builder of St. Frances).  Grace Episcopal Church of 1854 reflects pattern book Gothic Revival designs popular at the time.
 Antebellum outbuildings, including slave quarters surviving at the Thompson-Urquhart House and perhaps at the William Pugh House, an overseer’s house at Thompson-Urquhart House, meat houses, dairies, and general storage buildings, provide a remarkable material record of the activities of antebellum plantations.  The two late 19th century brick outbuildings, one a dairy and one an ice house, at the Thompson-Urquhart House are of particular architectural merit for their creative eave ventilation features.
 Like other well-to-do farmers of northeastern North Carolina, Woodville’s citizens turned to Norfolk, Virginia not just as a market where they sold agricultural product and purchased goods, but also as a cultural center.
 [18]  A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Eastern North Carolina, 321.
 [19]  Ibid., 325.
[14] Camp, Influence of Geography on Early North Carolina, 7.  About 1917 Woodville farmer Thomas W. Griffin hired Philip B. Moser of Norfolk to design his farmhouse.  The large, unpretentious Colonial Revival house has a gambrel roof, large shed dormer, elegant Craftsman-inspired built-in cupboard, and other Craftsman appointments, including a staircase, mantels and trim.  Burges Urquhart and Dr. Frank Garris probably utilized mail-order plans for the stylish Craftsman houses they had built in Woodville about this time.  The plantation village of Woodville thus represents the architectural traditions of the Roanoke Valley from the early nineteenth (late eighteenth) to the early twentieth centuries.[14] Camp, Influence of Geography on Early North Carolina, 7.  

Section 9:  Bibliography

Bertie County Census Records, Deeds, and Wills.  N.C. State Archives
Bishir, Catherine W.  North Carolina Architecture.  Chapel Hill:  University of North Carolina Press, 1990
Bishir, Catherine W. and Michael T. Southern.  A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Eastern North Carolina.  Chapel Hill:  University of North Carolina Press, 1996
Bullock, J. Marshall.  "Whitmel Hill Pugh,"  Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, V.  Edited by William S. Powell.  Chapel Hill:  University of North Carolina Press, 1994
Camp, Cordelia.  The Influence of Geography Upon Early North Carolina.  Raleigh:  Carolina Charter Tercentenary Commission, 1963
"Confederate Tax Census for Bertie County, N.C., 1862."  Typescript prepared by students at Roanoke-Chowan Academy, 1975-76
Earley, Lawrence S.  "The Swamp that Burns,"  Wildlife in North Carolina (February 1998):  13-18.
Kane, Harnett T.  Plantation Parade:  The Grand Manner in Louisiana.  New York:  William Morrow and Company, 1945.
Mattson, Alexander & Associates, Inc.  "Tyrrell County and Northampton County Reconnaissance Level Surveys," North Caroline Historic Preservation Office, 1996
Rawls, Moore.  Diary, 1851-1858.  Collection of Mrs. Joseph W. Parker, Windsor, N.C. (given to her daughter who no longer claims knowledge of its whereabouts)
Sitterson, Joseph Carlyle.  "Lewis Thompson, A Carolinian and His Louisiana Plantation 1848-1888.  A Study in Absentee Ownership."  Essays in Southern History.  Essays in Southern History.  Chapel Hill, c. 1925.
Smallwood, Dr. Charles.  "Recollections of Woodville."  1894.  Original in the Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.  Published in Bertie Ledger, Windsor, N.C. September 28, 1972.
Taves, Henry V.  "The Rural Architectural Heritage of Halifax County, North Carolina."  North Carolina Historic Preservation Office, 1989.
Thompson, Lewis, Collection, c. 1840-1871, Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Tyler, John E.  "A Brief Sketch of Bertie County."  Brochure.  1985.





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