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NHPS Lectures on the Lawn Series

Northampton County continues to provide amazing sites for the NHPS "Lectures on the Lawn" Series.

Be sure to check this website's home page should adverse weather conditions occur on the dates of the program.


The "Lecture on the Lawn" Series reflects the Society's 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!

2019 Lectures

Lecture on the Lawn at Prospect Hill

The Northampton Historic Preservation Society held a “Lecture on the Lawn at Prospect Hill” on Sunday, November 10th. Prospect Hill was part of a 1200-acre plantation belonging to Colonel William Kendall in the late 1600s and then a 675-acre plantation in the 1800’s. Mr. John W. Leatherbury built Prospect Hill around 1824. He was a wealthy prominent merchant whose trading interests extended to the West Indies and his activities included smuggling.

Prospect Hill has been vacant for many years. The owners have graciously offered it for a lecture on the lawn in its current, “as is” condition. Come to the lecture to learn about John W. Leatherbury, the history of this land, the house, its architectural features and the owners’ plan for restoration.

Dr. David Scott is generously donating his research notes for this lecture. They can be found at: Prospect Hill.

Lecture on the Lawn at Chatham

The Northampton Historic Preservation Society offered a “Lecture on the Lawn at Chatham” on October 13th. Chatham, a stately Federal-style house located on Church Creek, is celebrating its 200th birthday. Surrounded by almost 300 acres of land protected in The Virginia Land Trust, it was originally part of a land patent granted in 1640 and has been the home of only five families. Built by Brigadier General Pitts in 1818, a prominent citizen of Northampton County, it was attached to an earlier structure that now serves as a kitchen.

The house features a Federal-style, barrel-vault brick porch with limestone steps built on the footprint of an earlier porch. The ruin of the Quarters Kitchen now shelters a kitchen garden that is enclosed by old fencing and boxwood. Restoration began by the Wehner family in 1979, and a winery completes the property which has been a working farm for four centuries.

Dr. David Scott is generously donating his research notes for this lecture. They can be found at: Chatham Lecture.

Lecture on the Lawn at Eyre Rectory

Eyre Rectory was built in the 1850’s as a rectory for the minister of Hungars Parish on six acres donated by Maria Robins and additional funds contributed by Mr. John Eyre of "Eyre Hall". This house served as a home for the ministers of Hungars Parish until about 1908 when a new rectory was built in Eastville, across Courthouse Road from Christ Church. Since then it has had a number of owners, including Dr. Raymond Brown who was a general practitioner in Eastville for many years.

The land where "Eyre Rectory" was built was originally given to the local Native Americans in the 1640s. They lived on this seaside land until the 1830s when they gradually sold their property to their more prosperous neighbors. The sad story of the Eastern Shore Native Americans will be addressed.

Dr. David Scott is generously donating his research notes for this lecture. They can be found at: Eyre Rectory Lecture.

2018 Lectures

Pear Valley, located in Wilsonia Neck, is one of the most studied buildings in Virginia. In October, 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.

Sylvan Scene - Lecture on the Lawn - October 2018

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 - September 2018

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 - June 2018

The lecture series opened with 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." 

2017 Lectures

Lecture on the Lawn at Coventon - October 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 - September 2017

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.

Past Programs

Lecture on the Lawn at Park Hall - September 2016

Lecture on the Lawn at Rinie’s Rest - June 2016

Lecture on the Lawn at Stratton Manor - October 2015

Lecture on the Lawn at Elkington - October 2015

Lecture on the Lawn at Valcluse - November 2014

Lecture on the Lawn at Winona - October 2014

Lecture on the Lawn at Pear Valley - 2013

Lecture on the Lawn at Old Castle - 2012

Lecture on the Lawn at Eyreville - 2012

Lecture on the Lawn at Salt Grove - 2012

Northampton Historic Preservation Society

P.O. Box 501

Eastville, VA 23347


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