Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Richmond-Miles Museum Building in Yanceyville

 Richmond-Miles Museum Building in Yanceyville, North Carolina

An article in The Caswell Messenger newspaper (Yanceyville, North Carolina) referred to the building that currently houses the Richmond-Miles Museum as the:

Graves-Poteat-Florance-Gatewood House

The Caswell Messenger (Yanceyville, NC), 25 January 2023.


Graves House

The house was built around 1820 by William Graves (1780-1845). It may have served as his Yanceyville home, being eventually converted into a hotel (the Village Hotel). The business was continued after his death by his second wife, Ann Lea Graves Graves (1794-1857).

We know the Village Hotel was in operation as early as 1838:

(From the Milton Spectator (Milton, NC), 9 October 1838)

Democratic Dinner,

Complimentary to the Senators and Republican Members of Congress from N. Carolina,

Agreeably to arrangements previously made, a sumptuous dinner was furnished by Capt. Wm. Graves, proprietor of the Village Hotel at Yanceyville, on Friday, the 28th ult.; a day which will long be remembered by the citizens of Caswell.

At 20 minutes past 12 o'clock, General Barzillai Graves, the President, took his seat at the centre wing of the immensely long table, which was richly and bountifully supplied with every good thing the market affords. Majors Wm. A. Lea and James Kerr assisted as Vice Presidents, and being seated at the right and left ends of the main table, at the centre of which and fronting the President, were placed the invited guests.

Richmond Enquirer (Richmond, Virginia), 16 October 1838.


Corbett & Richmond Owners

However, in 1851 the Village Hotel was purchased by Corbett & Richmond:

Village Hotel, Yanceyville, N.C.

"Corbett & Richmond, would respectfully inform the public that they have recently taken charge of this spacious Hotel, formerly kept by Mrs. Graves, which has lately been repaired and is now in complete order for the accommodation of Travelers and Boarders. The rooms are comfortably and neatly furnished; the Table shall always be provided with the best that the market affords; the Servants will be found polite and attentive, and their Stables will be constantly supplied with an abundance and variety of provender and unsurpassed Hostlers.

"This magnificent establishment is pleasantly located convenient to the Court House, and persons attending Court at Yanceyville and stopping at the Village Hotel, may rest assured that the Proprietors will spare no pains to please them. Their prices will be found moderate and precisely the same charged by the other Hotel in the Village.

"Drovers will find every accommodation that large and roomy Stables and  as spacious Lots can afford."

The Milton Chronicle (Milton, NC), 17 April 1851.


Poteat House

Based upon the recent item in The Caswell Messenger, referenced above, the next owner apparently was a Poteat. We know that James Poteat (1807-1889) moved his family to Yanceyville after the Civil War (moving from "Forest Home" on the Yanceyville-Milton Road). We also know that a Poteat Hotel eventually was constructed on the lot immediately east of the Village Hotel property. Was James Poteat an owner of the building that now houses the Richmond-Miles Museum?

The photograph shows the Poteat Hotel to the left of the Graves-Poteat-Florance-Gatewood House.


Florance House

The next owner was Thomas Jefferson Florance (1858-1926). He purchased the property in the 1880s and made his home there. For some thirty years Florance was a merchant on the Square in Yanceyville, eventually constructing what eventually came to be known as the "Dime Store." His wife, Nancy Kerr Lea (1869-1939) apparently remained in the house.


Gatewood House

At some point the property came into the possession of a daughter of Thomas Jefferson Florance and Nancy Kerr Lea Florance: Mary Lea Florance (1903-1995) and her husband John Yancey Gatewood (1893-1954). They are the parents of artist Maud Florance Gatewood (1934-2004), who was born in the house.

Maud Florance Gatewood inherited the property from her mother and in 1999 sold it to the Caswell County Historical Association. Funds for the purchase were provided by Thomas Richmond McPherson, Jr., and wife Kathy Sue Simmons. At the time, the mother of Thomas Richmond McPherson, Jr., Elizabeth Pierce Parker McPherson (1929-2019), was President of the Caswell County Historical Association.

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