Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Library Research Report Series - 1560
Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Library
The Archibald Blair House and Outbuildings are located on a plot of ground situated immediately north and west of the junction of Nicholson and North England Streets.
The buildings were restored by the Williamsburg Holding Corporation under the direction of Perry, Shaw and Hepburn, Architects.
The following are the dates of the beginning and completion of the restoration of each building:
|29||1||Archibald Blair House||Apr., 1930||Jan., 1931|
|29||3||Archibald Blair Kitchen||Feb., 1931||July, 1931|
|29||3A||Archibald Blair Wellhead||Feb., 1931||Aug., 1931|
|29||11A||Archibald Blair Smokehouse||June, 1930||Jan., 1931|
|29||4B||Archibald Blair Dairy||June, 1930||Jan., 1931|
|29||6||Archibald Blair Corncrib (Garage)||Feb., 1931||Nov., 1931|
|29||4A||Archibald Blair Privy||Feb., 1931||Nov., 1931|
A. Edwin Kendrew was chief draftsman in the Williamsburg office of the architects.
The measured drawings were made by and under the direction of Singleton P. Moorehead. The men who worked on the drawings of the house, aside from Mr. Moorehead, were Milton L. Grigg, Clyde Trudell, John A. Barrows and Thomas T. Waterman. The drawings for the outbuildings were made by the following:
|Dairy, Corncrib, Wellhead, Smokehouse and Privy||Washington Reed, Jr.|
|All working drawings were checked by||Walter M. Macomber and A. Edwin Kendrew.|
In viewing restored Williamsburg, two things, it seems, are of chief importance - the picture that it presents to the eye and the thoughts which this invokes. It is the architecture and gardens, of course, which make up this picture. The original eighteenth-century town was the stage where great and lesser deeds were enacted by great people, neargreat people and by ordinary folk. In considering the buildings, we should not forget that it is these people and what they did which counts most.
It is with this thought in mind that the editor of this report has devoted what, at first glance, may be deemed a disproportionate amount of space to the people who owned or lived in the Archibald Blair House. But a surprising percentage of these people were persons of importance and some, indeed, fall into the category of the near-great, as, for instance, Dr. Archibald Blair and his son, John Blair, Sr., Dr. George Gilmer, Jr., Dr. John Baker, the Reverend James Madison and John Wickham. Something should, therefore, be told about them since the house itself becomes vastly more interesting, if we consider it not alone from the standpoint of its architectural features, but from that of the people associated with it. So, the editor has prefaced the architectural report proper with biographical material. He considers this approach not only defensible but also highly desirable in the case of this house and all of the others, in fact.
In the case of the Archibald Blair House it is of interest to speculate on why so many persons of consequence were connected in one way or another with this particular building. One of the reasons for this probably is that the house was a large one and attractive as a residence on this account. The other is that its location facing the Market Square was one of the most advantageous in Williamsburg.
The editor wishes to acknowledge with thanks the aid received in compiling the material for this portion of the report from members of the staff of the Department of Research and, especially, from Miss Mary Stephenson and Mrs. Rutherfoord Goodwin. Much information was also derived from the Research Report on the Archibald Blair House, written by Miss Stephenson in May, 1948.
There is good reason to believe that the Archibald Blair House or, at least, some house on the lots 170-173 which are bounded by Nicholson and North England Streets and which run through to Scotland Street, was built between 1716 and 1718. On July 15, 1716 the trustees of Williamsburg conveyed the above-mentioned lots to Dr. Archibald Blair, under the condition imposed by the Act of 1805* that he erect on them within 2 24 months either a brick or wood house of specified dimensions and with certain required features or forfeit the land to the city. Blair must have met the condition since there is no record of the lot having escheated to the city. In fact, far from allowing these lots to slip from his fingers by failing to build a house on them within two years, we find him in 1724, in order to gain a greater frontage on North England Street and to round out his holding, purchasing from John Randolph lot 174 which, up to a short time before this, had belonged to Governor Spotswood. As in other cases of the building of these early dwellings in Williamsburg, we cannot be certain that the building he built was the original of the present house. But no foundation evidence has been discovered to indicate that he 3 built on a site other than the present one. We can, however, say that certain features of the house as restored, such as the porch, probably stem from late in the century and that the first house, however likely it is that it was erected on the present site, was different in many respects from the restored one.
The original owner of the property, Dr. Archibald Blair, surgeon, physician, apothecary and tradesman, was a Scotsman. He attended the University of Edinburgh, to which, by the way, many Virginians went to study medicine, and came to the colony in 1690. His brother, the contentious but capable Reverend James Blair was Commissary of the Bishop of London and promoter and first president of the College of 4 William and Mary. There is a record of the fact that Dr. Blair, in 1708, was paid for attending prisoners in the Public Gaol of Williamsburg. He was among the alderman named in the charter of the City of Williamsburg, and was a member of the House of Burgesses, representing Jamestown in 1718 and in 1732-34 and James City County in 1720-22 and 1723-26. Together with his brother, James Blair, Sr. and Colonel Philip Ludwell, Dr. Blair engaged in a business described by Governor Spotswood as "one of the most considerable Trading Stores in this Country."* He married three times and by his first wife had John Blair, Sr., who became president of the Council and acting governor of the colony. Archibald Blair died in 1735.BLAIR BECAME OWNER OF FIRST THEATRE SITE
At his death Dr. Blair was owner, not only of the lots referred to above, but also of lots 163, 164 and 169, which he had acquired from William Levingston, who had given him a mortgage on them and had failed to pay this off. Thus he was owner of the land on which stood the first theatre, which had been erected about the same time as his house, that is, between 1716-1718.
John Randolph, son of Sir John Randolph, followed Blair as owner of the property, but when he acquired it is not known. 5 Dr. James Carter, son of John Carter, keeper of the Gaol, occupied the house for a time during Randolph's ownership of it. Randolph sold lots 170-174 to Dr. Peter Hay in 1763. John Randolph was a Tory sympathizer and thought it wise, as the Revolution drew near, to clear out. He left for England via Norfolk in September, 1775.THE HOUSE WAS THE HOME OF SEVERAL DOCTORS
We have just remarked that the James Carter who lived in the house for a time while Randolph held it (there are known to have been two James Carters in Williamsburg at this period) was a physician. Also, as we have seen, Randolph sold the house to Dr. Peter Hay. In addition, tracing the chain of title from that point down to 1930, when the restoration of the house was started, we find that it was owned or occupied at various times by four other doctors, viz., Dr. George Gilmer, Jr., great grandson of Archibald Blair, who bought the house in 1768 from the heirs of Dr. Hay; Dr. James Blair, son of John Blair, Sr., who inherited the property from his distinguished father in 1771, Dr. John Baker, a dental surgeon, who took up his residence there in January, 1773, and Dr. Van Franklin Garrett, who came into possession of the house and the land appertaining to it in 1914. It is a rather remarkable circumstance that this house, built by a physician, was, from the time of Dr. Blair's death in 1735 down to the year, 1930, owned or occupied by no less than six other members of the medical profession. In view of this, if the careful historians among our readers will tolerate an anachronism and permit us, we might call the house "The Sign of the Green Cross." Or, again, risking exposure to the choler of both the historians and the scholars of Greek mythology, we could say that Aesculapius slept there and often.6 DR. JAMES CARTER. SECOND MEDICAL RESIDENT
A few words should be said about these doctor residents of the house since they were all prominent citizens of Williamsburg. It will be noted that several of them were apothecaries as well as physicians. This is not strange since eighteenth century doctors generally compounded their own medicines and not a few had shops in addition in which they sold drugs and healing herbs. The coupling of the role of apothecary with that of physician by Dr. James Carter, the second medical occupant of the house, is a case in point. Together with John Carter, a merchant, Dr. Carter in 1765 built a brick building on the north side of Duke of Gloucester Street, immediately west of the Raleigh Tavern. The building was divided into two shops, the eastern one being operated as a general store by John Carter, and the western half housing Dr. Carter's drug shop, the Unicorn's Horn. In 1774 the latter took his brother, Dr. William Carter into partnership with him in his business. Both men also served together as doctors at the College of William and Mary. Dr. James Carter died about 1794.DR. PETER HAY. ALSO DOCTOR-APOTHECARY
Dr. Peter Hay, who purchased the former Blair property from John Randolph, is mentioned in 1744 in the records of York County as a "Practicer of Physick in Williamsburg." He was also a purveyor of drugs and at one period rented the Lightfoot House on Duke of Gloucester Street. He is known to have had an apothecary shop just east of the latter house by virtue of the fact that a notice appeared in the Maryland Gazette of April 15, 1756 stating that the contents of this shop had been completely destroyed by fire on the Sunday 7 previous. Dr. Hay purchased the former Archibald Blair House seven years after this disaster (1763) and lived in it until his death in 1766. Dr. Hay left his widow, Grissell Hay, dower rights in the property but apparently not too much cash, for she was constrained to take in roomers, advertising in 1768 "... that I have very commodious Lodgings to let for a dozen gentlemen, and their servants with stables and provisions for their horses, and shall be much obliged to those who will favour me with their company."THE TWO DR. GEORGE GILMERS
The next owner of the property was Dr. George Gilmer, Jr., who purchased it in December, 1768. Dr. Gilmer was a person of note and the son of a distinguished father of the same name. Dr. George Gilmer, Sr. was an apothecary as well as physician who ran a drug store on lot #163 near the junction of Nicholson Street and Palace Green and advertised his medicaments as for sale at his "Old Shop near the Governor's" (Virginia Gazette, 1737). The elder Gilmer must have belonged to the upper stratum of Williamsburg society for in addition to being at different times alderman and mayor he was a friend of George Wythe and a sufficiently consequential person to permit him to entertain Governor Dinwiddie at a dinner in his home "... neigh the Court-House, corner Palace Street, Williamsburg"* on November 27, 1751, less than a week after that dignitary's arrival in the colony.DR. GILMER, JR., FRIEND & NEIGHBOR OF JEFFERSON
Though the second Dr. Gilmer was owner of his great grandfather, Archibald Blair's property so far as we know, he never 8 lived there. He studied at the College of William and Mary and later at the Medical College at Edinburgh. He practised his profession for some time in Charlottesville and after-wards at Penpark, his country residence. He was a neighbor and intimate friend of Thomas Jefferson and served in the state constitutional convention of May 6, 1776 as alternate to Jefferson, when the latter was elected to Congress.WILLIAM WIRT'S ESTIMATE OF DR. GEO. GLIMER, JR.
"Dr. George Gilmer, Jr. occupied an even more eminent position in the colony than his father. William Wirt declared that besides `his eminence as a physician' he was a very good linguist — a master of botany and chemistry of his day — had a store of very correct general science — was a man of superior taste in the fine arts — and to crown the whole had an elevated and noble spirit, and was in his manners and conversation a most accomplished gentlemen. "*JOHN BLAIR, SR., AND DR. JAMES BLAIR, ONE-TIME OWNERS OF HOUSE
John Blair, Sr., who had twice served as acting governor of the colony, was the next owner of the property, purchasing it from Dr. Gilmer, the younger, on October 29, 1771. His ownership of it was cut short by his death less than three months later. In his will he bequeathed to his son, Dr. James Blair, "... the houses and lots I purchased of Doctor George Gilmer where Mrs. Hay**now lives ...." Dr. Blair, like so many 8a other Virginia physicians, obtained his medical education at Edinburgh. He survived his father by little more than a year and he apparently never lived in the house. The Virginia Gazette of December 31, 1772 records his death as follows: "Doctor James Blair of this City; at Doctor Gilmour's in Albemarle, where he lately went on a Visit."DR. JOHN BAKER, DENTAL SURGEON, MOVES TO BLAIR HOUSE
A few weeks after the death of Dr. James Blair the following "ad" appeared in the Virginia Gazette: 9
January 14, 1773. The Subscriber begs Leave to inform the Publick, and his Friends in particular, that he is quite recovered from his late Illness, and removed to the House wherein the late Doctor Blair lived, where he performs all Operations upon the Teeth, Gums, and Sockets; eradicates the Scurvy, be it ever so bad; transplants natural Teeth from one Person to another, which will be as firm in the Jaw as if they originally grew there, without any Ligament; and makes and fixes artificial Teeth, from a single Tooth to a complete Set. JOHN BAKER
A notice had appeared in the same paper on July 2 of the previous year to the effect that Dr. Baker, then in Philadelphia, would be in Williamsburg in July prepared to do dental work. It also informed the public that Dr. Baker would have available "a Quantity of his ANTI-SCORBUTICK DENTI-FRICE, for preserving the Teeth, and Gums."DR. BAKER PURCHASES NORTON-COLE HOUSE
Dr. Baker, apparently, maintained a practice in Williamsburg for several years, making the town his base for rather far-flung operations. We first find him in the capital in 1771 where "he resided at Mr. Maupin" (Virginia Gazette).
In January of 1773, as we have seen, he moved to the Archibald Blair House.* It seems that he remained there only about six months, for, according to an item in the York County records, he purchased from William Hornsby the house now known as the Norton-Cole House on the west side of the Market Square on July 3, 1773. He occupied this dwelling until some time in 1778; in August of that year he offered his house for sale and announced his intention to leave the state (Virginia Gazette, August 21). This is the last reference which we have which places him in Williamsburg.10 BAKER AMONG FIRST TO SPECIALIZE IN DENTISTRY
Dr. John Baker was a person of considerable importance. He was one of the first men in America to specialize in dentistry and dental surgery. Until the 1860's and `70'-00s such dentistry as there was (chiefly the extracting of teeth and the treatment of toothache) had been practised by doctors, surgeons and apothecaries but at this time new methods of treatment discovered by French and English dental surgeons began to be understood and practised in this country by a few individuals who made of the care and treatment of the teeth an independent branch of medicine. Baker, like most of the dental surgeons, had started his American practise* in the North (Boston) and we hear of him in this connection as early as 1767. He was one of the first dentists to come to Virginia. Most of the early practitioners in the colony were itinerants who traveled from place to place, remaining only a short time in each. In this category is the only other dentist who visited Williamsburg as early as the 1770's, a Mr. Hornby who professed to be a surgeon dentist from London and who, in 1772, advertised his presence in Williamsburg after a successful visit to Norfolk.#BAKER'S CELEBRATED DENTIFRICE
Dr. Baker, too, as we have said, though making his home in Williamsburg, travelled around the country a good deal like the others. On September 1, 1774 we find him in Baltimore stopping at Mrs. Howard's coffee house and prepared to minister to 11 "disorders of the teeth, gums, sockets." He also has with him his "infallible Specifick, called DENTIFRICE," which may be procured from him at the coffee house or at his home in Williamsburg, "… where all merchants, shop-keepers, masters of vessels, may be supplied with any quantity to send to foreign parts, with proper directions in any language. Each pot is sealed up with his coat of arms, as in the margin of the directions to prevent fraud. — — Vincet Veritas." (Maryland Gazette, September 1, 1774). He visited Mount Vernon often, as is evident from the record left by Washington in his Ledger B of payments made to him for dental work between 1772 and 1774. Washington also mentions him in his diary, as, for example, in an entry of 1785 in which Dr. Baker is included on one occasion among the dinner guests at Mount Vernon.DR. BAKER A PIONEER AMERICAN DENTIST
Dr. John Baker, one-time resident of the Archibald Blair House, was one of the pioneer dentists of America. He is generally regarded by dental historians as the preceptor of Isaac Greenwood, whose son, John Greenwood, was to make the only preserved dentures of Washington; Paul Revere, the renowned midnight courier, silversmith and jack-of-all-trades, who, among other dental work, made a porcelain tooth for General Joseph Warren,* and Josiah Flagg of Boston, pioneer American dentist.12 DR. VAN GARRETT, LAST PRIVATE OWNER OF HOUSE
Over a century and a half elapsed after the departure from Williamsburg of Dr. John Baker before another medical man, Dr. Van Franklin Garrett, son of Dr. Robert Garrett, came into possession of the house. The property was conveyed to him on April 14, 1914 by his sister, Lottie C. Garrett, then owner of the Coke-Garrett House, and two other relatives.HIGHLIGHTS OF DR. GARRETT'S LIFE
Dr. Van Garrett was a Civil War veteran, having fought in the battle of Newmarket with the V.M.I. cadets. He was a graduate of the University of Virginia medical school and 13 completed his internship at Bellevue Hospital in New York in 1868. Instead of engaging in the practice of medicine, however, he became a teacher and remained one throughout his life. After filling a teaching position in Pulaski, Tennessee he returned to Williamsburg as professor of natural science at the College of William and Mary, where he later held the chair of chemistry. He died at the Archibald Blair House on November 19, 1932. He is survived by his widow, the former Harriet Guion Nicholls, daughter of Francis T. Nicholls, onetime governor of Louisiana. Mrs. Garrett still occupies the house.JAMES MADISON, PRESIDENT OF COLLEGE. A DISTINGUISHED RESIDENT OF HOUSE
It has seemed feasible to group together all of the doctor owners and residents of the Archibald Blair House since it is rather singular that so many members of the medical profession should have been connected with one house. It is also surprising that a number of these men were, at the same time, persons of note and accomplishment. These physicians, on the other hand, were not the only individuals of importance who were associated with the house in the course of its history. The most distinguished of these other-than-medical residents was the Reverend James Madison, eighth president of the College of William and Mary and second cousin of James Madison, fourth president of the United States.COLLEGE RENTED HOUSE FOR MADISON WHEN FIRE DESTROYED INTERIOR OF PRESIDENT'S HOUSE
James Madison followed Dr. John Baker as resident of the house, which the College in 1782 rented for him from John Blair, Jr. From 1777, when he was made head of the College, until June, 1781 he had lived in the President's House on the 14 campus. He had been forced to vacate this when General Cornwallis arrived with his army and commandeered it for his own use. Later the building was converted into a hospital for wounded officers of Count Rochambeau's army. It was during this time, in October, 1781, that a fire occurred which severely damaged the interior of the President's House. It was evident that extensive repairs would be necessary before President Madison could again use the house so the faculty on June 3, 1782 issued an order "That a House be rented in Town for the use of the President, and the rent be paid out of the interest of the money due for the above Bills (Bills of exchange received from the French army to pay for the damage done the building by the fire). The house which the College rented for President Madison was the Archibald Blair House.MADISON OCCUPIED HOUSE FOR FOUR YEARS AND MADE REPAIRS TO IT
Madison occupied this for over four years, entering it, according to a notation in the College ledger, on or before July 6, 1782 and continuing this at least until July 6, 1786 and probably some months longer, since the 15 restoration of the President's House was not completed until the fall of that year. Although the Archibald Blair House was owned by John Blair, Jr., Madison, during his occupancy of it, apparently had a number of repairs made to it, for Humphrey Harwood, Williamsburg mason and builder, lists in his account book work done for "The Reverend James Madison." The Archibald Blair House is not mentioned in connection with these repairs, but since Madison owned no property in town, and since the work was not sufficiently extensive to cover the renovation of the President's House, it seems likely that the repairs were made to Madison's temporary residence.MADISON A GREAT TEACHER OF THE PHYSICAL SCIENCES
The Reverend James Madison was an educator of no little importance. He had come to the College in 1773 as professor of natural philosophy (the physical sciences) and had quickly earned a reputation among the students as a teacher who made his lectures vitally interesting. One of them wrote of him in 1804:
As a tutor, he certainly stands in the first rank. He strives with indefatigable zeal to open and expand the mind of the student, and his manner of illustrating is plain, intelligible and convincing. In his opinions of every kind he is liberal and indulgent. The priest is buried in the philosopher, for he embraces no opinion that philosophy will not justify.MADISON SUSTAINED COLLEGE THROUGH REVOLUTION AND AIDED IN INTRODUCTION OF MODERN CURRICULUM
It is greatly to the credit of the visitors of the College that, in 1778, they made this man president and fortunate for the College itself. For the Revolutionary War was ruinous to the old institution and it was only through the zeal and ability of President Madison that it was brought 16 back to normal following it. Furthermore, had the head of the College not been an individual of the liberality of mind of James Madison, it probably would have been impossible for Thomas Jefferson, in 1779, to carry through his reorganization of the College curriculum. Madison cooperated with Jefferson closely and together, by eliminating certain courses and introducing others, they made the College curriculum one of the most advanced in the country.MADISON FIRST EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF VIRGINIA, REMAINED HEAD OF COLLEGE UNTIL DEATH IN 1812
The Revolution disestablished religion in the Commonwealth and the College never again had an official connection with it. Despite this, its president, James Madison, was made the first episcopal bishop of Virginia in 1790. He retained the presidency of the College until his death in 1812. His remains are interred in the College chapel.JAMES MADISON A STAUNCH REPUBLICAN
James Madison was a warm republican and it is said that in his sermons he would never speak of heaven as a kingdom, but as that "great republic where there is no distinction of rank, and where all men [are]free and equal."
The individual who occupied the Archibald Blair House after the return of President Madison to the President's House was John Wickham, who attained eminence in the law. That he was living there in 1789 is apparent from a statement made by John Coalter, a tutor of the Tucker children, in a letter of that year to a friend: "... As Mr. Tucker's house is small and his family large, I sleep in the house of a Mr. Wickham 17 next door, who is a practitioner of the law and keeps Bachelor's Hall." Wickham like James Madison also made minor repairs to the house for he is charged with these by Humphrey Harwood in a ledger entry of June 3, 1790.WICKHAM STUDIED LAW WITH JUDGE HENRY TAZEWELL IN WILLIAMSBURG
John Wickham was born June 6, 1763, at Southold, Long Island. Intending to take up an army career, he studied for a time after the Revolution at the famous military school at Arras, France. Preferring the law, however, he returned and in 1785 came to Williamsburg to study law with Judge Henry Tazewell. It was, apparently, after his admission to the bar that he took up his residence in the Archibald Blair House. After practicing a short time in Williamsburg he moved to Richmond (1790) and established himself in practice there.
Wickham was married twice, the second time to Elizabeth, the daughter of Dr. James McClurg, who was the first professor of anatomy and medicine at the College of William and Mary.WICKHAM BUILDER OF FAMOUS HOUSE IN RICHMOND
In 1812 he built himself the famous and beautiful home on 18 East Clay Street which bears his name and which now houses the Valentine Museum. Wickham was socially prominent and many important persons, among them, John Marshall, were his friends.
The Richmond bar at the time was unsurpassed in America and John Wickham was its leader. He appeared in many notable cases, but the most spectacular of all of them was the trial of Aaron Burr for treason which was held in Richmond between May and September of 1807. In this trial he assisted Edmund Randolph with defense of Burr and the two of them won Burr's acquittal.WILLIAM WIRT'S CHARACTERIZATION OF JOHN WICKHAM
William Wirt, the celebrated Attorney-General of the United States, said this of John Wickham:
"This gentleman ... unites in himself a greater diversity of talents and acquirements than any other at the Bar of Virginia. He has the reputation ... of possessing much legal science. He has an exquisite and highly polished taste for polite literature; a genius quick and fertile; a style pure and classic; a stream of perspicuous and beautiful elocution; an ingenuity which no difficulties can entangle or embarrass; and a wit, whose vivid and brilliant conversation can gild and decorate the darkest subject ... Praise is too faint for the man who possessed more jury power than any man of his day in Richmond. With all the adroitness and ingenuity granted him, there was besides a degree of native pith and power unequaled either in extent or cultivation by any man at the Bar."FACTS ABOUT JAMES HENDERSON OWNER OF HOUSE AROUND 1800
A few words only will be said about certain other owners of the house. The Reverend James Henderson who took possession of the house and lots between 1801 and 1806 was rector of York-Hampton Parish, professor of humanity at the College and a Mayor of Williamsburg. He married Jane Blair, the daughter of John Blair, Jr. and their daughter, Elizabeth Jane, married John Parke Custis Peter, a great grandson of Martha Washington.19 JACOB SHELDON, PROSPEROUS MERCHANT, OWNER AT MID-CENTURY
Jacob C. Sheldon, who owned the property at the mid-century, acquired it from a Walter W. Webb concerning whom nothing remarkable has been recorded. Sheldon was a prosperous dry goods merchant who went on frequent business trips to Boston and Philadelphia and who vacationed at the Virginia springs.LOTTIE AND MARY GARRETT AND THE VISIT OF THE PRESIDENT
We have already mentioned Lottie Garrett (p. 12) but a further word or two should be said about her and her sister Mary, who lived in the house from 1893 to around 1914. They acquired the house from one Montague Thompson, reputedly an eccentric and probably worthy of an investigation of some sort. Lottie and Mary, we know from the story told about them in the 1951 edition of the Williamsburg Scrap-Book were personalities of considerable interest. The tragic tale of the visit of President Woodrow Wilson to the house - but, no, we shall refrain from spoiling the story by telling the ending. We recommend that the reader consult the Scrap-Book and discover this for himself.
The exterior retained little Georgian trim beyond the lower members of the main cornice. The weatherboards were to a large extent old, as were the corner boards and barge boards. The window panes and sash were of the Gothic Revival period, and the porch, which was retained, is of the Greek Revival. Under the porch were discovered foundations that fitted the stone steps that were found scattered around the yard. These were of an unusual type known only here and at Ampthill. The nosing was a half-round (about 2") that entered at the corner and carried down the corner of the riser and finished against the tread below. Thus a series of panels was shown on each of the three faces of a pyramidal flight.22
The interior of this house was devoid of any Georgian trim when taken over by the Restoration. The plan, however, as originally designed, remained reasonably intact. The chimneys had been taken down and rebuilt paralleling the end walls instead of diagonal to them. The stairs had been built anew in the northeast corner of the building instead of on the west side of the hall, where the evidence indicated that the stair was originally located.
On the second floor the only plan changes were those affecting the diagonal fireplaces and the stair location. A bathroom existed in the north end of the hall. Examination of the attic revealed that the roof pitch had probably never been changed, as what was presumed to be the original framing still exists.
All notes on southwest room apply here also. Northeast room gray-green; northwest room, pink.
The original version of the material which follows was written by Washington Reed, Jr., except for the treatment of the Dairy, which was the work of Milton L. Grigg. This material has been revised by the editors of this report.
The framing is rough hewn of variable dimensions and appears to be original except for minor repairs.
A pre-restoration photograph shows a 3-boarded batten door which has been replaced by one of 5 boards. The door sill, frame, and trim are all new. Corner boards have been patched where necessary. The finial is new but its source and precedent should be determined. Further study should be made on the hinges, hasp and chain to determine whether they are old or recent. The new crown moulding is copied from the deteriorated one existing on the building before 1930.
The diagonal edge flush boarding is old on the east and south elevations and new on the remaining elevations. Possibly all retainable boards of the north and west elevations where used to replace deteriorated ones on the east and south elevations.
Of recent date the asbestos cement shingles of the 1930-1931 restoration have been replaced with wood round but shingles with fan tails at the hips.
The Architectural Report refers to an original floor; however, the present pavement is dirt.
The sill and foundation bricks are possibly new; however, further investigation is necessary.
For details see measured drawing #101 dated April 10, 1956.
A photograph of the privy and smoke house in the Architectural Report was printed in reverse and should be replaced.[illegible]ing the Arch Report
The smoke house is probably a mid-eighteenth century building. It is not on its original site so far as can be determined. The roof is new, 2 of asbestos-cement shingles. The finial is new, of colonial character. The weatherboarding, floor, door and framing are original with only minor repairs. The cornice is new, copied after the original which existed but was in very bad condition.
The smoke house is probably a mid-eighteenth century building. It is not on its original site so far as can be determined. The roof is new, of asbestos-cement shingles. The finial is new, of colonial character. The weatherboarding, floor, and framing are original with only minor repairs. The cornice is new, copied after the original which existed but was in very bad condition.
The dairy is original in its original location. A new fireproof roof was erected over new roof timbers. Repairs to the grilles (replacing missing slats and damaged frames); a new whitewash job on the interior and exterior, and a new plaster cove soffit replacing the original which was damaged, constitute the work which was necessary for the restoration of the building. The finial was missing but a photograph was found showing the original and this was copied in the restoration.
This is not a colonial building but was repaired and reconditioned for use as a wood house. General repair work of colonial design was used in the restoration.
This was formerly an old corn crib and storage house combined, and has been changed into a garage, keeping the original dimensions but closing in the slatted portion. It has asbestos-cement shingles on the roof and new windows and hardware of colonial design.
The well head is new above grade. Certain colonial materials such as cornice, 38 framing, etc., were used in its restoration. An example of a colonial well head similar to this is one found at Seven Pines.
The barn was probably built about 1830-1840, or thereabouts. It has only had slight repair work done to it and has not been completely restored. The fence along the side has been repaired and a chicken house which was in very bad shape was torn down. This was not a colonial building.
(Note: The word, "house," unqualified, refers in this index to the Archibald Blair House. The abbreviation, "ill.," after an item signifies that an illustration of the subject mentioned appears on the page indicated.)
|February 14, 1931.||Job started.|
|February 21, 1931.||Masonry- 20% complete.|
|Carpentry- 30% complete.|
|February 28, 1931.||Masonry- 85% complete.|
|Carpentry- 70% complete.|
|March 7, 1931.||Masonry- completed.|
|Carpentry- 80% completed.|
|Electric Work- Completed.|
|March 14, 1931.||Activities postponed March 12, by Perry, Shaw and Hepburn.|
|March 21, 1931.||No progress.|
|March 28, 1931.||No progress.|
|April 4, 1931.||No progress.|
|April 11, 1931.||No progress.|
|April 18, 1931.||No progress.|
|April 25, 1931.||No progress.|
|May 2, 1931.||No progress.|
|May 9, 1931.||No progress.|
|May 23, 1931.||May 22, Activities resumed.|
|May 30, 1931.||Plastering 50% complete.|
|Carpentry 90% complete.|
|Sheet metal & roofing- completed.|
|Painting- Whitewashing exterior brick work completed.|
|June 13, 1931.||Painting: Walls sized, first coat of paint applied to exterior woodwork.|
|June 20, 1931.||Painting 70% complete.|
|July 11, 1931.||Job completed except installation of screens.|
|July 17, 1931.||Job completed. Started February 14, 1931.|
|75 working days.|
OWNERS OF KITCHEN
The Van Garrett Kitchen has been completed by us with a final cost of $3211.05.
We trust you may approve this work and send us your formal acceptance.
(Todd & Brown, Inc.)
Dear Mrs. Garrett:
Re: Block 29 No. 1- Van Garrett Kitchen.
We are handing you herewith the key to the Van Garrett Kitchen. This building has just been turned over to us by the architects as restored.
Yours very truly,
Williamsburg Holding Corporation
By V.M. Geddy