Northampton Historic Preservation Society

Enriching lives through the preservation of historical sites and culture.


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2018 NHPS Lectures on the Lawn

Northampton County continues to provide amazing sites for the NHPS "Lectures on the Lawn" Series.  Be sure to check this website should adverse weather conditions occur on the dates of the program.

Pear Valley, located in Wilsonia Neck, is one of the most studied buildings in Virginia.  On October 21st, Dr. Bernie Herman, noted author and the George B. Tindall Professor of Southern Studies at University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill gave his unique perspective about its construction and the culture of the people who lived there.  Recent dating methods indicate Pear Valley was built around 1740.  The 20-by-16-foot structure is a one-room, open or hall-plan house with a loft that was eventually subdivided into two rooms. The descendants of the original owner lived in Pear Valley for almost 200 years. Pear Valley was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1969 and became a National Historic Landmark in 2013. When designated as a National Historic Landmark it became one of only 2,596 landmarks in the entire U.S., 121 in Virginia, and two in Northampton County.


Dr. Bernie Herman’s books include Architecture and Rural Life in Central Delaware 1700-1900, The Stolen House, and Town House: Architecture and Material Life in the Early American City, 1760-1830 — each awarded the Abbott Lowell Cummings Award as the best book on North American vernacular architecture. Dr. Herman specializes in historical architecture and material culture.  In the early part of his career, he studied many of the historic homes of The Eastern Shore. 

The "Lecture on the Lawn" Series reflects our passion for and dedication to preservation, education and history.  Enjoy afternoons with NHPS Lectures on the Lawn and the opportunity they provide 
to gain insights about the history of Northampton.
No fees are charged, but we hope that participants will consider a $10 donation to support future NHPS preservation and educational efforts.   Please be sure to bring a lawn chair and dress comfortably!

2018 NHPS Lectures on the Lawn

Sylvan Scene - Lecture on the Lawn on October 7th

Surrounded by farmland and forests and nestled between the Bayside Road and U.S. Route 13, just south of Johnsontown, lies one of Northampton County’s most delightful treasures.  Sylvan Scene is the second home built on the property (circa 1814).  Parts of this house were constructed using lumber and architectural refinements from the first house, which was built in the 18th century. 

Sylvan Scene is a typical Eastern Shore farmhouse, one room deep with the big house little house concept.  Renovated in the 1970’s, the home is enhanced by a formal box garden, moved from a family residence in Capeville, Virginia.  There is also a cemetery weaving the story of ancestors as far back as the Revolutionary War.  The exquisite setting and its place in Northampton history provided a highly entertaining and informative afternoon on the lawn.

Lebanon - Lecture on the Lawn  on September 23rd

On September 23rd, NHPS received a warm welcome by the owner to the Northampton historical home named "Lebanon".  The oldest section of the house was built by the owner's great-great-great-great-great grandfather, Thomas Nottingham, circa 1787. The smaller section was added by her great-great grandfather, Dr. Thomas J. L. L. Nottingham in the mid 1800's, using salvaged lumber from a shipwreck off Cobb Island. 

The cemetery has headstones dating back to the late 18th century. Nottingham’s oldest son served in Lee's Army of Virginia and was captured by the Union Army during the retreat from Richmond.  In 1828 William Nottingham gave 1/4th acre to the Methodist Church for the construction of Salem Methodist Church.  The lovely water view and learning about the many connections to Northampton families through the years provided a great afternoon. 

Johnsontown Tavern - Lecture on the Lawn on June 10th

The lecture series opened June 10th at Johnsontown Tavern located immediately south of Bridgetown.  The owners and Dr. David Scott presented the evolution of the tavern/house built by Johannes Johnson, who purchased 35 acres just south of Hungars Church in 1787.

Johnson, believed to have been one of the Occohannock Neck Johnsons, built the Tavern, Johnson's Methodist Church (1790) and a store (1820s) on this property. Johnson ran the tavern, which served people who were traveling north and south between Eastville and Bridgetown, for a number of years.  Many Northampton families owned or lived in “Johnson’s Town." 

NHPS  Newsletters - Learn more about Northampton County History

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

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

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

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

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

Pear Valley Presentation Introducing the NHPS Video

Pear Valley: A 1740 Yeoman’s Cottage
Featuring Dr. Garrison Brown
Held March 25th  ~ Cape Charles Civic Center

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

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


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


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

Ancestry Workshop with M. K. Miles Held on March 3rd

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


NHPS Walking Tour of Historic Accomac - October 26, 2017

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

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

Cugley Lecture on the Lawn
Sunday,  Nov.   12th 

Cugley is located on the north side of the peninsula called "Savage's Neck. The property’s history extends back to Thomas Savage, (the boy traded to the Indians, became an interpreter, and was the first permanent settler on the Eastern Shore) his widow, and her second husband Daniel Cugley. It is estimated that “Cugley” was built by Thomas Lyttleton Savage sometime in the 1790's.This house was once part of a large plantation with numerous outbuildings. The cemetery headstones include the names from the Eyre, Parker, Wilson, Savage, and Stringer families.


Lecture on the Lawn at Coventon

Sunday, October 22nd, 2017

On October 22nd, Coventon in Eastville was the site of the 2nd Lecture on the Lawn for the year, One of the oldest houses in the county, Coventon is thought to have been built at the end of the 18th century by Coventon Simkins. Coventon was featured in the Kellee Blake play, Stronger Than Steel, On the Eve of the Civil War,  The home was occupied by Federal troops during the Civil War.  Coventon's long and fascinating story was told by David Scott, Randy Stuart, and the home owner.

Lecture on the Lawn at Selma

Held September 17th, 2017 at 2:00 PM 

Selma in Eastville is a beautiful example of a mid-eighteenth century two story house with outstanding architectural details. Home to numerous influential Northampton families over the centuries, the house evolved into the “big house, little house, colonnade, kitchen” form particular to the Eastern Shore.  The owners/speakers shared with the audience the history of this amazing property at this well-received event.

NHPS Guided Walking Tour of Historic Eastville - June 25th, 2017

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


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

Excavations in Northampton at Pear Valley and Newport House/Eyreville

From May 9-21, 2017, the Department of Agriculture/Forest Service  sponsored a George Washington and Jefferson National Forest - Passport in Time excavation project in Northampton  Virginia.  In conjunction with the Archaeological Society of Virginia, Chesapeake Bay Archaeological Consortium, Department of Historic Resources, this field school, will test and document two important sites in Northampton County - Pear Valley and Newport House/Eyreville.

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

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

See Virginian Pilot Article here

NHPS Annual Meeting, December 14, 2016

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

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

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

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

Amazing "Artifacts & Arrowheads "  Program Held October 23, 2016 

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

October 11th, 2016     NHPS Historic Jamestowne Bus Trip

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

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


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

Past Programs

NHPS Lecture on the Lawn at Park Hall Held September 25, 2016

NHPS Launches 1st Guided Walking Tour of Historic Eastville - June 26,  2016

Lecture on the Lawn at Rinie’s Rest -- Machipongo    -  Encore Presentation - June 5th, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

See The Activities of  the Northampton Historic Preservation Society on YouTube

 Northampton Historic Preservation Society History

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

Northampton Historic Preservation Society

P.O. Box 501

Eastville, VA 23347

email address: [email protected]

Donations Appreciated!