352 South Church Street - Thomas Blow House 
Built circ. 1800


352 South Church Street - Thomas Blow House (circa 1800)

            Believed to be built in the 1790s, this federal style house is named after one of its early inhabitants, Thomas Blow, who owned the property from 1798-1800.  In 1770, Mr. Andrew Mackie purchased a vacant lot 52 (now 352 S. Church Street) for £5 or roughly $17-20 by using 18th Century Virginia exchange rates.  In 1800, a deed of trust listed the assessed property value at $400, thus clearly indicating the construction of a house since Mr. Mackie’s purchase.  From this we can undoubtedly deduce the house was built no earlier than 1770 and no later than 1800—most likely Mr. Mackie built the house in the 1790s.  Given the unequivocal evidence of an existing house from the 1800 deed of trust, the house has conservatively carried the name “Thomas Blow” and the year 1800.

The original 1790s house consisted of two parlors and a staircase on the first floor and one chamber on the second floor; below was a standing-height cellar that is believed to have sheltered two house slaves.  A detached kitchen sat behind the house, though no discernable foundation may be found today.  Key features include heart pine floors of planks 22’ long and over 1” thick, fireplaces in all rooms (including the cellar), wood-pinned mortise-tenon ceiling and floor joists, and 12” square hand-hewn beams supporting the house over a three-wide brick foundation.  Although wainscoting adorns the front parlor and chair railing stretches throughout the house, there is no cornice molding on the 10’ ceilings.  From 1822 to 1827, Mrs. Fannie Boykin, the widow of Revolutionary War notable Major Francis M. Boykin (who served with General Washington and Patrick Henry and from whom Fort Boykin is named), owned the residence.

Although the house’s size was respectable for the 1790s, in 1827-1837 the Widow Boykin’s daughter, Ann Marshall, and her husband, Mr. Watson P. Jordan, nearly doubled its size by adding a first-floor hall/staircase, upstairs chamber, and likely a back porch on the west side of the house.  Inside the addition, the builders carefully crafted the foyer and staircase wainscoting to match the original parlor wainscoting, while outside they kept the key Federal elements of the house but updated it to the then-popular Greek Revival by adding a columned portico.

Late 1800s and early 1900s alterations and additions include transforming the back porch into a bedroom chamber and adding an indoor bathroom and attached kitchen.  Between 1910-1919, an indoor columned archway was built to separate the front parlor from the foyer.  Finally in 2005, a sensitively designed addition was added to the west side, providing a first-floor master bedroom chamber and bathroom and an upstairs bedroom chamber.  Its current gray cladding resembles an earlier color scheme, but past colors include yellow, white, and olive clapboards with white, forest green and even black trim!

Recent discoveries include early 19th Century children’s clay marbles in the original upstairs chamber floor and outdoor excavations unearthed Federal period pottery shards, 19th Century Majolica fragments, and Victorian glass bottles and octagonal ink well.

 

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Adapted from the original hard copy walking tour designed by the Smithfield & Isle of Wight Convention & Visitors Bureau.
For additional information about the walking tour, contact the Visitors Bureau at: 757-357-5182 or 800-365-9339.
Unless otherwise noted, the homes shown on this site are private residences and are not open to the public.

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