Historic Buildings in Halifax County, Virginia
2083 Wilkins Road
By Kenneth H. Cook
Article published in the News & Record, Christmas Homes Tour
Lynwood, the home of the W.W. Wilkins family near Turbeville, is neither mansion nor museum, but a comfortable farm house. It will be opened to the public for the first time ever this Sunday, December 8, 1975, for the Halifax Woman's Club's Christmas Tour.
Situated on the left (east) side of county road 699, 1.2 miles off US 58, Lynwood is barely visible down its long driveway. As one approaches, one is struck by the fact that many of the outbuildings are placed at or near the front of the house. This in itself is a rare arrangement in Halifax County.
The walk to the portico, paved in stone, begins with a millstone, one of a pair, that came from nearby Wilkins' Mill. It would be hard to find more beautiful boxwood than that at Lynwood. A double row of box, English on the inside, American on the outside, flanks either side of the walk. Mores rows are at either side of the yard.
To the right of the house are two small white dependencies, one of them the old smokehouse; the old kitchen stands at the back. Views are magnificent, with the fields rolling away, two large ponds, and the wooded hills in the distance.
Lynwood was extensively remodeled in 1951, the work being done by E. B. Wilkins.The old, deteriorating, double front porches were replaced using the original roof and square pillars like the old ones. A handsome railing was put at the second floor level, where the doors were replaced by windows.
Inside, the wall separating the front hall from the living room was removed, as was the wall between the front hall, and the stair hall. Several fireplaces were closed up and a number of closets built. There had been only one closet before, in the upstairs hall. The three mantels that were removed are being used by other family members.
Where there had been a back porch, a modern kitchen and a breakfast room were added. Before this, the Wilkins had used the old outside kitchen, "not a practical arrangement with young children," Mrs. Wilkins said. Central heat was installed at this time, too.
All the wood used in Lynwood is of heart pine, pegged together. The woodwork is not elaborate, but rather is in the classical style of the Greek Revival period, when the house was built, circa 1854-56. An exception to this is the bold, ornately shaped newel of the staircase. It doubtless is the work of Tom Day, the Milton, N.C., cabinetmaker who did similar pieces for several other homes in Halifax County.
The most intriguing feature of Lynwood is the brightly colored glass surrounding the front door and what were the front doors upstairs. In shades such as red, blue, yellow and green, in square and diamond shapes, the glass is unexpected but not as unique as one might suspect. A house less than a mile away has the same thing.
Visitors will notice that some of the panes have been replaced with clear glass. "We boys knocked them out playing ball on the front Walk," Mr. Wilkins noted. Both he and Mrs. Wilkins speak of how beautiful the colors are when the sun is directly in front of the house.
Numerous antiques are to be seen in the house, side by side with reproductions and more contemporary pieces, an harmonious mixture that we Haligonians seem to have a special knack for achieving. A black walnut 18th. century drop-front desk in the living room is the oldest piece. It is thought to be of Virginia origin and belonged to Mr. Wilkins' grandfather, W. Banks Wilkins. On the floor beside it is a brass cuspidor that was once used in the Courtroom at Halifax County Courthouse. Mrs. Wilkins bought the cuspidor when they were sold several years ago.
A small pine table, with a single drawer once was on the back porch with flowers on it. The top is hinged, and inside there are "secret storage compartments.Standing by the front door is a large walnut secretary that may have belonged to the Richardson family, Lynnwood's builders.
The downstairs bedroom has a new tester bed made from walnut grown on the place. An ornate Victorian rocking chair stands near a baby crib that came from England. It was in the famfly of Mr. Wilkins' mother, the Byerleys, and has been used by many in the family. A quilt on it was made by Mrs. Wilkins' mother, Mrs. Granger.
The dining room banquet table is a Wilkins piece, but the chairs are reproductions. The handsome walnut corner cupboard is from the Boyd family. Beautiful silver is displayed on a side table and in a round oak china press.
One of the upstairs bedrooms has a walnut Victorian suite from the Wilkins family. In the master bedroom there is a beautiful maple rope bed, its posts topped with acorn finials. It is most unusual in that the undersides of the finials carefully carved to imitate the acorn's hull.
One of the Wilkins' most prized possessions is so small it can almost be hidden in one hand. It's an Atlatl weight, an Indian stone, that dates between 3000 and 5000 B.C. In perfect condition, it was found by Mr. Wilkins in 1969 while plowing a field near the house. Many other artifacts have been found on the place.
A set of chairs in the house was made near Boydton and apparently are a variation on the Johnson chair. They are identical except for the finials on the back posts. There are two others, a child's chair and a high chair, that match the set.
Two old family Bibles are of interest. One is from the Byerly family, the other the Wilkins. The latter was a Chritsmas gift to Mr.and Mrs. Banks Wilkins in 1873 from "their attached friends, Joseph and Willie 'Stebbins."
(Historical notes compiled by Mrs. Richard Edmunds.)
Lynwood is thought to have been built circa 1854-56 by the Richardson brothers, James and Abner. Both men were talented carpenters. It is the opinion of Mrs. Edmunds that the Richardsons came into possession of the land in this manner:
William Byrd III inherited, thousands of acres in this area from his famous father. In 1774 Maria Willing Byrd stated that William Stanfield got 490 acres on Lawson's Creek from Williarn III, her husband. Benjamin Stanfield got l96 acres in 1795 from Boswell Turner; 200 acres in 1824 from William Stanfield; and 39 acres in 1834 from Elam Bass.
In 1854 Benjamin Stanfield sold 543 acres to Stephen Stanfield and Abner Richardson, and in 1856 Stephen Stanfield sold his interests to Abner. Abner sold the land to his brother James in 1858; James sold it back to Abner 1880.
Both James and Abner contracted tuberculosis. James went to Texas to live; Abner died at Lynnwood in 1881. A chancery suit between James and the Executors of Abner's estate, initiated in 1883, settled in 1884-85, with 370 of 543 acres being sold to W. Banks Wilkins, the grandfather of the present owner.
(Historical notes by Mr. Cook)
The Session Book of the Mt. Carmel Presbyterian Church is, kept at Lynwood. It recorded therein that when there church was organized in 1857 (at a site just up the road from Lynnwood), James and Abner Richardson were the charter members; both were Ruling Elders, and James was the firs Clerk. He was succeeded as Clerk by Banks Wilkins, and his grandson, W.W. Wilkins, is the present Clerk.
The cemetery at Lynwood, has only one marked grave, that of A. Archibald Richardson, the young son of Abner, who died in,l856.
Two old account books belonging to the Richardsons were found in an outbuilding at Lynnwood. One of them records the fact that twice in 1863 James paid Tom Day of Milton for making caskets. Both cost $160.
When W. Banks Wilkins died in 1908 his obituary was written by the noted Presbyterian minister, Dr. Thornton S. Wilson. He referred to Mr. Wilkins' home as his "castle."
The origin of the name Lynwood is not known. When the Wilkins were trying to decide on a name for the place, about the time of the 1951 remodeling, some old stationery was found in the house with that name on it. Assuming that to be the historical name, they use it.
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The transcription and the updated photos are the work of Dan Shaw. In some cases modifications to the original text have been made to improve the flow of the story, correct typos, and insert new or clarifying information. Additional facts or further corrections are welcome. This author takes no credit for the original publications and its research. These local historians should be honored for the their endless hours of efforts to document this county's history for posterity.