Halifax County is rich in historic homes. In accordance with the Society Mission Statement to preserve historical information for dissemination to the public, the Society may assist homeowners through the arduous process of documenting and helping to obtain the national recognition deserved of these homes.
Currently there are twenty-seven county properties that have been listed on either or both the Virginia Historic Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places as well as five groups of homes and public buildings designated as “Historic Districts” in Virginia.
For additional information on the houses, please see An Architectural History of Halifax County, Virginia, published by the Halifax County Historical Society.
One home will be added each month and will include a detailed description and photographs of the exterior and interior, if available.
Bloomsburg, a two-story Greek Revival house with full attic, was built around 1839 for Alexander Watkins and his wife, Sarah. The house was selected for the National Register based on significant interior architectural refinements including marble mantels, decorative plaster cornices and ceiling medallions. The property was also recognized for many stylistic construction features of its outbuildings, which today include a two-room brick kitchen, brick carriage house and other historic domestic and agricultural outbuildings. The nomination mentions that two small row houses near the house were still standing in the 1960s as well as a blacksmith shop near the carriage house, a smokehouse, ice pit, and kitchen near the corn crib. A 1960s site plan also refers to a formal garden on the north side of the house and labels the kitchen as the “overseer’s house.” The nomination concludes that Bloomsburg belongs to the county’s first generation of Greek Revival plantation houses.
In early 1830 Watkins operated a two-story brick store built not far from where the present house would be constructed. The large building, with 18-inch thick walls and two rooms on each floor, was called Bloomsburg Store and remained a landmark in the county until its demolition in 1957 (to make way for additional lanes for Hwy. #58). Although Watkins produced various crops and had a small herd of horses, cattle, hogs, and a pair of oxen, his mercantile business was his principal occupation.
Watkins’ family lived in a log house on the property until two of their thirteen children were born; then, while waiting for the house to be built, they stayed in the upstairs rooms over the large store. Across the road from the store, Watkins built a tobacco warehouse and prizery to which local growers brought their leaf tobacco for sale and for packing into hogsheads. The tobacco was transported overland to Clarksville and traveled by boat on the Roanoke (Staunton) River to other destinations. The nomination includes a quote from a newspaper clipping stating the store was “an important place and travelers stopped off to sample the locally distilled whiskey dispensed from kegs on the counter.”
The nomination also credits the Milton, NC workshop of free-black carpenter, Thomas Day with some of the interior door surrounds and the stair brackets and suggests that master-builder Josiah Dabbs may have been responsible for the original one-story Doric column porticos on the front and the one remaining at the back of the house. In the 1970s, two-story, gabled-end wings were constructed and the original one-story front portico was replaced with a two-story columned portico. Bloomsburg is owned by Ed and Andrea McKinney.