HOME OF COLONEL SAMUEL BOOTH
HOME OF COLONEL SAMUEL BOOTH
Location: Northwest side of Virginia Route 4o~ .55 mile travelling east from the bridge over the Otterdam Swamp, Surry County, Virginia.
Latitude: 37° 05' 25"
Longitude: 77° 02' 55"
Mrs. John Leo Wilcox, Waverly,
Mrs. Rosalie W. Priddy,
This is a typical Tidewater
Samuel Booth was a middle class Tidewater
Samuel. Booth was born in Surry in 1794, probably attended
a local school taught by a member of his father's congregation, and followed
the most likely livelihood available to a young man of his upbringing--that of
farming. He probably enlisted in the Surry County Militia at an early
age, was commissioned a lieutenant in 1827, and was promoted to Captain in the
following year (see appendix L). Although all records for the Surry
County Militia between 1830 and 1840 have been destroyed, he was most likely
promoted to Colonel in the early part at the decade. His obituary (died
As a look at the
According to Booth family tradition, a difficult
winter during the construction of the house resulted in the name "Snow
Hill", but the earliest documented use of the title is to be found in the
1859 deed of sale transferring the plantation from Samuel Booth to William H.
By 1852, “Snow Hill” had grown to include various
adjoining parcels of land containing a. total of exactly 500 acres. Samuel's
wife died later in the decade and, with his children grown, he sold the house
and surrounding land in 1859 for the sum of $4500. He married a widow
William H. Hood held the property from 1859 until 1875, when the outcome of a court case decreed the land be sold, and it was purchased by Samuel Booth's son, Binns Beverly Booth, who promptly moved in with his family. Just prior to the death of Binns Beverly Booth, he sold the house and two hundred acres to his son Samuel Peter Booth, a bachelor. “Sam Pete “, as he was known, remained in the house until incapacitated in 1930, at which point he went to live with his nephew, John Leo Wilcox, of Waverly, and later to a nursing home. Tenants inhabited the house from 1930 onward, and the house was willed by "Sam Pete” Booth, upon his death in 1933, to his nephew.
PART II: ARCHITECTURAL INFORMATION
A. General Statement
This is a typical Tidewater
2. Condition of Fabric: Good.
B. Description of Exterior
General Character: A five bay,
two-and-one-half story structure covered by beaded-edge
weatherboards, possessing a fine modillion cornice and fielded-panel
doors which tell a continuity of architectural tradition in conservative, slave-holding,
2. Foundations: The building is set upon brick piers, adequately spaced to allow free circulation of air around the structural timbers--a necessity in the damp, termite filled climate of the tidewater.
3. Brickwork: All brickwork, both in the foundation walls and in the chimneys, is laid in five course American bond. Bricks measure approximately 8" x 3" x 3-5/4" and five courses rise 16".
system: The building is of frame construction, of hard
4. Doors: Front and back entries have double doors, each consisting of three fielded panels. All other doors in the building are of the traditional six-panel variety.
5. Hardware: The house is fortunate enough to have retained the
majority of its original hardware although some had been replaced with
Victorian examples. Rooms on the second and third floors boast square, iron
plate latches, with thumb bolts and brass knobs. These are
unmarked by their maker, but are probably of English origin.
Of the five box locks originally found on the first floor, only two
remain--on the closet door beneath the stair, and on the door between the hall
and the dining room. This latter example is marked by "Carpenter &
Company, patentees", and the keeper is stamped with a crown and the
initials "W R', representing King William IV, ruler of
The only wrought iron to be found in the entire house are the strap hinges which bold the exterior shutters. These hinges, however, are attached to the shatters with screws, and not with nails as might be expected. Nails throughout the house are of the early machine cut variety. Hinges on all doors are of cast iron, those in the parlor and dining room having examples which raise the doors a total of 1/2 “ as they are opened--suggesting that there may have been some floor covering which the owner did not want the moving doors to wear.
6 Windows and shutters: All windows are wooden double-hung sashes, unweighted, consisting of "nine-over-nine" light sashes oh the first floor, and "six-over-six" on the second floor. The small double hung sashes, which light the third floor re of the "four-over-four" variety.
Shutters were originally hung on the exterior only on the south front of the building--facing the road, which runs in front of the house. During the last quarter of the 19th century, shutters were added to the north side and to the third floor, but these have long since disappeared.
7. Roof: An old roof (possibly the original) of: hard pine or cypress shingles still exists beneath the current roof of tin, added in 1972 to prevent water damage. All of the shingles are of random width, measuring 18" in length, 6" of which was exposed to the weather. All shingles have rounded ends to prevent warping in the hot sun.
8. Lightening rods: The lightening rods seen on both chimneys of the house in old photographs were undoubtedly original. Only sections still remain.
9. The front porch: visible in old photographs, was original to the house, but was taken down in 1950 when its structure had become unsafe. Another porch was added at that time, but that too has since been removed. Included in this study is a proposed reconstruction of the porch taken from old photos, measurements, and the existing outline of the porch still visible on the front of the house.
C. Description of Interior:
1. Woodwork: Paneled wainscot is found throughout the first floor and extends up the stairwell to the second floor. The second floor has chair mould and baseboards throughout, and the third floor has only baseboard. There are no cornices of any form in any of the rooms on the interior.
2. Painted Interiors: Fortunate enough to have endured the poverty of the Booth family, the interiors of "Snow Hill'. have escaped the ravages often dealt by well intentioned renovators. With the exception of woodwork in the dining room, painted by tenants in the mid-20th century, the original painted, grained, and marbled surfaces are extant throughout the house. Although wear and tear, natural aging, and even abuse have taken their tolls upon the surfaces, much is exceptionally well preserved. The wainscoted hallway is painted a deep, almost olive, green, and the risers of the steps are marbled. Newel posts are mahoganized, and the stick balusters are painted the same: green. The wainscot now found in the parlor, and that now painted over in the dining room, is representative of the fancy painting, which reached its height in the era between 1820 and 1840. The baseboards are marbled, rails and stiles of the wainscot are simulated mahogany, and panels are painted in imitation of birds-eye and curly maple. The dado cap, the door and window jamb moldings, are all painted a deep blue. Sunbursts in the parlor mantle are gilded with gold leaf. Doors throughout the house are painted with mahogany stiles and rails and with maple panels, identical to the wainscot of the first floor. Plaster surfaces throughout the house were applied over split lathes, and were left white. They were probably whitewashed often, and contain no signs of stenciling or wall painting.
3. Flooring: All the floors are of
4. Fireplaces: There are four fireplaces in the house, 2 each on the first and second floors. There are no fireplaces on the third floor. All hearths are of square
brick tiles. The finest mantle is gained, has herringbone and Greek key moldings, and gilded sunbursts, and is to be found in the parlor.
D. The Site: Within the immediate environs of the house are known to have been a smokehouse, an icehouse, barns, a kitchen, and a building referred to as the
“weaving house". None of these buildings are still standing, although the frame of the smokehouse has been salvaged and will eventually be
reconstructed. Woodwork from the kitchen, taken down in 1959, is in storage, and the chimney and foundations for the building still exist. There are
no photographs of any of the other buildings, with the exception of the “weaving house", and it is highly unlikely that any archaeological excavations
will take place.
Note from Baird-Booth-Parsons Bible:
“Built for Colonel Sam Booth and under his supervision. No saw mills at that time only `whip’ saws and hand work was used. Colonel Sam Booth and his wife
lived in the small two story house to the left of the big house whiles Snow Hill was being built. Binns Booth was born in this house. The small house to the right
was the cook house.
The dining room and kitchen (now torn down) were not a part of the original house. They were added years later by Binns Booth. The name Snow Hill was
given to the place by Colonel Sam Booth.”