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"






Owners:                      Mrs. John Leo Wilcox, Waverly, Virginia

                                    Mrs. Rosalie W. Priddy, Ashland, Virginia



Statement of

Significance:                This is a typical Tidewater Virginia plantation house of the pre-Civil War era.  Constructed in 1836, it is a five bay, central hall, single pile structure of two and one half stories,  and exhibits characteristics of the late eighteenth century which remained prevalent in rural southeastern Virginia well into the nineteenth century.






Samuel Booth was a middle class Tidewater Virginia planter who owned 500 acres of farmland eleven miles southwest of the Jams River in Surry County.  His father, Beverly Booth, was a Revolutionary War veteran, a farmer, and a Baptist minister who brought his wife and several young children from Southampton to Surry, probably in 1791, and became pastor of the Otterdam Baptist Church.  The Rev. Booth had been a part-time pastor of Sea Cock Baptist Church in Southampton until 1791, when he became ordained, and moved to Surry for a church and congregation of his own.  (See John Asplundt's Annual Register of the Baptist Denomination in North America to the year 1791, Richmond (?), 1791).  Around 1816 Beverly Booth went to Petersburg, Virginia, where he was instrumental in starting the Cypress Swamp Baptist Church.  One of his sons, Robert, moved to Georgia in 1814.     


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 January 20, 1876) refers to him as Colonel, and his grandchildren, alive as late as 1956, fondly referred to him as "Colonel Sam".  Nonetheless when Surry’s post 1840 records are surveyed, no mention is made of his name, and it is likely that he retired in order to devote full time to the construction of his home and the development of his plantation.


As a look at the Surry County land Books will attest, Samuel Booth apparently took a fancy to occasionally dabbling in real estate., and by the mid 1830's owned considerable property, some of which he sold, and some of which formed the basis for his plantation.  Construction of his house was undertaken on a 172 1/2 acre tract of land, probably in the fall of 1836, and was completed at a cost of $1380, according to the Surry County land Books for the year 1837.  As Surry's "Personal Property Tax Books for 1837" note, Samuel Booth was assessed for "20 slaves. 9 horses, and a riding gig valued at $75" during the year "Snow Hill was constructed. When the relatively low cost of the structure is considered, it is reasonable to assume that the slaves played an important role in its construction: felling trees, sawing, hewing, and joining timbers for the frame, and making bricks.  Yet, a professional house wright undoubtedly oversaw the over-all construction.  Another house, known as "Oak Hill" and situated on Virginia Route 31 between Surry Court House and Scotland Wharf, was undoubtedly built by the same man, and is very similar in plan, detail, and brickwork. Surry County’s Land Books for 1840 show that in 1839 additional expenditures amounting to $615. 75 went toward construction, probably dependencies.


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. Rood of Southampton. (Surry County Deed Book 14, page (See appendix F).


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 from adjoining Sussex County, and went to live with her on the farm she had inherited from her deceased husband.

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.





A.     General Statement


1.  Architectural Character:            This is a typical Tidewater Virginia plantation house of the pro-Civil War era which has undergone little alteration since its construction in 1836.  It is a five bay, central hall, single pile, two-and-one-half story frame structure, and exhibits characteristics of late 18th century architecture which remained prevalent in rural, southeastern, Virginia well into the 19th century.


2.  Condition of Fabric:  Good.


                  B.   Description of Exterior


1.   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, tidewater Virginia.


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".


4. Structural system:  The building is of frame construction, of hard Virginia pine. Larger framing members, such as the major bearing plates which rest upon the brick foundations, are hand hewn. Smaller members are sawn. Studs measure roughly 3" x 4”and are placed 16~ upon centers. The bearing plates measure approximately 10" x 12".


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 England from 1830 until 1837.  On the upper floors, there is only one box lock-- to be found on the door of the small room just above the south entry. It has neither knobs nor a thumb latch--only a key for 1ocking --suggesting that the room was used only for storage, and not as a nursery or sewing room, as has occasionally been suggested. The double doors which open off the back side of the hall to the exterior never had a lock of any kind, only a wooden bar placed in iron holders,

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 Virginia hard pine, varying in width from three to six inches.  Without exception a single board runs the complete length of a



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.”