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Center Hall

Place Made:
Northampton County Virginia United States of America
Date Made:
1759-1760
Accession Number:
0000.4
Description:
This center hall is from a house called “Cherry Grove” built in Northampton County, Virginia, for Nathaniel Littleton Savage (1726-1793), between 1759 and 1760. Cherry Grove was a five-bay, story-and-a-half tall, gambrel roofed house. It was one-room deep with a center hall providing access to a hall and parlor on the first floor and to a staircase leading to two chambers above. The center hall’s surviving exterior doors with diagonal stiles and raised panels and are important architectural survivals.

The architectural historian Mark Wenger has observed that the proliferation of center-hall plan houses in the Chesapeake during the middle of the 18th century reflected social and racial developments in society. The center hall provided an additional place for sorting by class and race as well as an additional barrier to entry into the more private and refined spaces of the house.

Nathaniel Littleton Savage was the fifth-generation of the Savage Family to inhabit the land on which Cherry Grove was built. Called “Savage’s Neck”, the house stood along Cherrystone Creek on the Chesapeake Bay side of the Eastern Shore of Virginia. In about 1767 Savage sold the land to William Burton and moved to York County, Virginia. A cousin, Littleton Savage, married William Burton’s daughter, and the land returned to the Savage family on Burton’s death in 1770. The house was the center of a plantation of more than 1000 acres. William Burton’s 1770 probate inventory lists seventy-one slaves; his son-in-law Littleton Savage’s 1805 probate inventory lists seventy-nine.

The house was illustrated in-situ by Ralph T. Whitelaw in his 1951 “Virginia’s Eastern Shore” (vol. 1, pp.214-215) and surveyed by the Historic American Buildings Survey in 1960:
http://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/hh/item/va0794/

Abandoned following a hurricane in the 1930s, the architectural woodwork from its center hall, parlor, and an upstairs chambe,r were salvaged by MESDA in 1970. Archeological investigation of the site was also carried out at that time by Brad Rauschenberg.

Credit Line:
Original installation: Agnew Hunter Bahnson III, Frank King Bahnson, Karen Bahnson, Mr. and Mrs. Albert L. Butler, Jr., Mr. and Mrs. William T. Wilson, Jr. Rennovations: MARPAT Foundation of Washington, D.C.