Friday, January 14, 2011

Virginia Beach (continued) 11/14

Today we continue our journey through Virginia Beach to visit more houses that were once working farmhouses, but today, they are surrounded by modernity as clothing stores and fast food restaurants quickly close in around them. We've noticed in these houses that they are much smaller than the ones in Savannah and Charleston; however, the tour guides usually say these families were rather "well to do" for that time.

The Lynn-Haven house is one of the smaller houses that we have visited thus far and the Thelabal family that built this house only owned 8 slaves that they had close relationships with and they also worked the farm alongside these slaves. This house only contains four large rooms with the kitchen inside the house, unlike all of the previous houses. This was because they were middle class and also, before that time, insurance did not require houses to have a separate kitchen house in case of fire. Unfortunately, we were unable to take pictures in the houses in Virginia Beach because of security reasoning, but in the Lynn-Haven house, the most interesting thing was the original writing on the parlor ceiling. Mr. Thelabal numbered the boards to line them up and his writing still showed vividly on the boards from the late 1600s. Mr. Thelabal was a ship's carpenter, so this house had many architectural themes that most middle class houses during that time did not. Also, the master bed was made out of mahogany and was considered a show piece for this family since other beds were hand made from the trees found in the area.

After visiting the Lynn-Haven house, it is easy to see where southern folklore of relationships between families and their slaves come from. This family allowed the slaves to sleep in the same house, even on the same floor as their children. After the Mr. Thelabal died soon after the construction of the house, his wife felt much safer with her salves and servants close by in stead of risking theft from pirates that were often near by in the bay and inlets behind the home.

The other house located only four miles from the Lynn-Haven house was built by Adam Thoroughgood. The thoroughgood family were also middle class immigrants so these house are very similar looking in shape and size. However, according to the historians who continue to study these houses, the Thoroughgood family was slightly better off making this house a little larger with more rooms on the inside. This is important to note because it would have allowed for a private bed chamber, unlike the Lynn-Haven house in which the living room and the bed cnahmber were one in the same. Also, Mr. Thoroughgood owned more land and more slaves which was very important in determining the social status for that point in time. Other than those differences, these houses were very similar in purpose since they were built close together and during the same time.

Join us tomorrow as we continue our journey into Richmond.

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