By: Terry Harris | Email: Click Here
Posted: January 20, 2019 | 2:15 p.m
SURRY – As part of an eagerly anticipated effort, Preservation Virginia is in the process of restoring Surry County’s 19th century slave quarter and smoke house located on the property of Bacon’s Castle.
“Bacon’s Castle is more than the big house,” stated Jennifer Hurst-Wender, Preservation Virginia’s director of museum operations and education, in a recent press release. “Preservation Virginia has the opportunity to preserve the rare extant buildings from the original plantation work yard to tell a more complete story about Virginia’s history. The slave quarter and smoke house preservation allows us to explore the everyday lives of people who were enslaved and later, those who share cropped the very same land.”
The slave quarter – a two-story, four-room structure with two chimneys and four hearths built in 1829– was used by the 20th century as a tenant farm house and had electricity and a kitchen addition. The smoke house, built in 1844, still contains the hooks on moveable beams that would have hung salt-cured pork while a low, smoky fire burned on the earthen floor to seal the meat with a smoke barrier. This process would have been carried out and overseen in earlier decades by the enslaved people at Bacon’s Castle.
19th century slave quarter at Bacon’s Castle while undergoing chimney stabilization.
As part of the smoke house restoration, additional brick layers added to the building’s original foundation are to lift newly constructed sills above ground to prevent ground water damage to the structure. According to a spokesperson for Preservation Virginia, extensive masonry repairs on the chimneys and fireboxes are now underway at the slave quarter. The first floor of the structure, which is currently inaccessible, will be able to be opened to visitors following planned additional framing stabilization.
The efforts of Preservation Virginia, a private, non-profit organization and historic preservation leader based in Richmond, to preserve the slave quarter and smoke house, have enabled them to tell the story of plantation life in Southside Virginia for nearly 50 years. The slave quarter and smokehouse will have new interpretation and signs when the restoration work is completed to tell the story of both places, and of the people who lived there.