The mission of the Northampton Historic Preservation Society is to preserve the historic heritage of properties primarily in Northampton County, Virginia through education, advocacy, and restoration activities.
Mike Ash, President
David Scott, Vice President
Elizabeth Dodd, Secretary
Mary Ann Rice, Treasurer
Katherine (Katty) Mears
Patricia W. Holland, Emeritus
Virginia Savage, Emeritus
Mary Hamilton Stuart, Emeritus
Joan Wehner, Emeritus
In 1913 the county bought the 1731 Old Courthouse at a purchase price of $4,000.00. Mrs. William Bullitt Fitzhugh, as directress for the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities (APVA), had the building moved to its present site, thereby saving it from destruction. An old jail, part of the wall around it, and a later Clerk's Office had been torn down, but it was ordered that the Old Courthouse should be moved next to the Old Clerk's Office, and these two buildings and the Debtors' Prison which stand to the rear were turned over to the APVA for preservation.
In 1922 the Old Courthouse was completely restored by the Northampton Branch of the APVA with Miss Nell Nottingham as directress. The entire front is a replacement: the door frame was taken from an old house on Granby Street in Norfolk and the door is a reproduction. At the rear of the building may be seen an example of the early fine brickwork that survived virtually intact the move across the court-yard.
The Old Clerk's Office remains on its original site and has had almost no restoration.No date has been established for the Debtors' Prison. A 1743 court order directed that a "good and sufficient Prison" be built 17 feet square, and the Debtors' Prison measures 17.2 feet square. However, this evidence is not conclusive. Several architectural authorities disagree with the assumption: it was not the custom in the 18th century to segregate debtors and the brickwork is not Flemish bond as was usual in buildings of that period. Possibly the present Debtors' Prison is the jail ordered built in 1814 for the exclusive use of debtors. It now houses a collection of 19th century tools.
In 1950-55 Mrs. E. Ailworth Scott, Northampton Branch directress, and her director of properties, and Mr. Ralph Gifford, accomplished a major and much-needed refurbishing and repair of the three buildings. Branch funds, a generous gift from the parent APVA, and a contribution from the Northampton Board of Supervisors provided the necessary money for this project, which was done painstakingly and authentically with advice from an architect recommended by Colonial Williamsburg.
The complex of the three buildings has been designated a Virginia Historic Landmark and continues in the care of the Northampton Branch APVA. The Northampton County Board of Supervisors has generously voted funds to paint the buildings inside and out and plans to replace the badly deteriorated steps of the Old Courthouse with steps more suitable to the design and period of the building.
Northampton Historic Preservation Society
P.O. Box 501
Eastville, VA 23347