History of the Edge Hill House

1750 –Built as 1-1/2 story dwelling, with one large bedroom upstairs in the attic; here the whole Solomon Tomlinson family slept.  The building was then on 25 acres. By 1798 the family had acquired 100 more acres,  6 slaves,  & 3 horses.

1799 Bought and dwelt in by Isabella Thompson, a widow. She had 5 slaves, died in 1805. Her estate managed the property until 1815, possibly using the first floor rented to the next owner as a store.

After the 1810 War, many struggled to survive the depression.

1815 new owner William Robins & family, used it as a store. He became a wealthy retail merchant, shown by his possession of  1 free negro servant, 34 slaves, 9 horses, a carriage & coach. He also bought another 750 acres elsewhere in Gloucester. Some improvements may have been made on the building, including some kind of cellar.

1822 bought by John Holiday & wife, rented to the next owners as a store. Sold in 1824. Building value listed as $381.25 on tax rolls, record show it was then set on 26.5 acres.

1824 purchased by 2 successful Williamsburg merchants (Cole and Sheldon), who operated it as a store until 1831. Stubbs joined the partnership later & ran the store.

1832 John Field purchased the building & the 26.5 acres, and probably raised the building over a large brick basement, making 2-1/2 stories. Bldg tax appraisal was $1,581.25. As a merchant, he purchased a license to sell “ardent spirits by retail”. His sons inherited the property in 1837 as minors, but by 1843 they had procured a license to operate the store.

In 1849 Henry Taliaferro bought Edge Hill property, was a coachmaker, also harness maker and blacksmith, making $4,000 in 1849 with 4 apprentices & 3 slaves.

1856 sold to Thomas Moss but still rented to the coachmaker per licensing records.

1861 -Now on 58 acres, bought by Eli & Elizabeth Clements & 4 children,  used as  dwelling,  Eli was a coachmaker but seemingly worked for someone else. Elizabeth used the family home for dressmaking, even after Eli died.  Building value was still listed as  $2,130, but dropped to $500 in 1888. By 1867 he had a horse ($75), 2 cattle ($20) 10 hogs ($25) and household goods of $103. Eli had debts during the Civil War Reconstruction period but paid them off during his lifetime.
Building rented to the Richardsons (a negro family) around 1900.

1910 Elizabeth sold the property, which by then had only 33 acres attached,  to Wm Burlee, a single man of Port Richmond, NY.  He sold it almost right away in 1911 to J.M. & Marie Lewis.

The Lewises sold “Edge Hill House” on a 40 acre tract to the Gloucester Agriculture Association with a mortgage from Bank of Gloucester in 1913.

1913 bought by the  Gloucester Agriculture Association , which held Fairs there for several years.

In 1914, the Woman’s Club rented it for meetings in the basement with an agreement to provide restrooms for white women during the Fairs.  There was a separate kitchen on the NW corner of the lot, and a gate on the West side, a water tank, and a windmill.

1920  the Gloucester Woman’s Club bought Edge Hill House and 3/4 acres around it for $2,500. A surveyor’s map shows it was actually 9/10 acre. They paid off the bank by 1922.   The building was sometimes known as “Long Bridge Ordinary”, but historians have failed to find evidence that it was used as an ordinary.

May 1913 - The Gloucester Woman’s Club was organized officially, and the first meeting of the temporary Board of Governors was held in the Jury Room of the Courthouse. In September 1913 the first official Board of Governors met in the club room of the Edge Hill house. The Club had rented the basement for meetings, and agreed to provide a restroom for white women that attended the Agricultural Fair during 1914 & 1915.
 The Founders were:
Mrs. N. Snowden Hopkins
Mrs. Henry A. Williams
Mrs. J. Marshall Lewis
Mrs. B. Frank Weaver

In 1920 the Gloucester Woman’s Club purchased the Edge Hill House and site from the Gloucester Agricultural Association.  The kitchen was in a separate building, also there was a water tank, a windmill and a gate on the west side to gain access to the road to Mathews.

In 1921 the old kitchen was razed & the wood used to build a new woodshed.

In 1924, the windmill was sold.

1930 -  electricity was brought to the building by the generosity of Mrs. Thaddeus Bell.  Many good works and cultural affairs were recorded, such as Teas, Tea Dances, Lectures, many Classes, informational meetings on Foreign Affairs, welcome homes for WWI soldiers, recitals, and support for the Walter Reed birthplace until its 1927 opening.

1935 Art Exhibit

1932 the Club started a circulating library for Gloucester’s rural schools by placing books in five sections of the County and a library in the Edge Hill House.  Later they organized a fundraiser to start the County Library.
Women of the Club worked with the Red Cross during WWI and WWII.

1940 had War sewing projects.

1941 the Club sponsors Gloucester’s first Girl Scout troop.

Maintained a First Aid Station during WW2.

1941 sponsored lectures on political subjects to inform citizens.

1947 Cedar siding was put on the upper portions of the exterior, and slate tiles replaced wooden shakes on the roof.  The Club was a venue of innumerable community activities and fundraisers.

1949 Mrs. G. Bolitho & Mrs. G. Cunningham supervised the structural & decorative restoration of the Club building. An historically authentic wood floor was installed on the 2nd floor.

1950—Gloucester Day School rented the building for three years  (now Ware Academy).

Garden Club of Gloucester founded by Club members in late ‘50s.

1960—The Club received a citation for “Dedicated service in behalf of a better community as a participant in 1958-1960 Community Achievement Contest” sponsored by the General Federation of Woman’s Clubs & Sears, Roebuck Foundation.

1963—The Club celebrated its Golden Anniversary with a luncheon, climaxing completion of the restoration and refurbishing of the building. Dr. E M Riley spoke about a century of historic American homes.

1963—helped with first polio vaccine clinic in Gloucester.

1970 -Mrs. C. Beatty Moore of Toddsbury headed the Club’s Restoration & Furnishing Committee with Mrs.H.K Dabney & Mrs. C.F. Hicks.

1973 –The Club building was accepted into the Virginia Landmarks Register, listed as Edge Hill House/Gloucester Woman’s Club.  Boxwood shrubs were planted.

1975 –The Club president Mrs. B.R.W. Marshall & secretary Mrs. G.W. Leiper signed an open space easement deed of the building and site to the Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission, protecting the property.

‘70s—removed shrubs & memorial garden as not being historically colonial. Many meetings to inform the community—mental health clinic, exchange students, drug abuse.

1976-GWC historian Elizabeth Lewis presents a historical marker plaque from the Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission to be placed on the building’s exterior.

1976 Bicentennail tours in English and French along with Yorktown Surrender Events.

1978– members vote to remove fencing around the property.
1980– established the Edge Hill Foundation and received 501(c)3 status—purpose is to preserve & maintain historic site & educate public.  A consultant was hired to do a structural and historical analysis.

In 1982 extensive repair work was begun, including repairs to slate roof, shed roof, copper flashing, wiring, insulation, front porch, drainage ditching & termites. Found a colonial-age well on the grounds.

2003– Another historian does research on origin and uses of the building.

2004-The Club is open for 4 Gloucester County History Trails. Informed that the largest cherry laurel tree in the state was located on the grounds.

2006– A red, white & blue garden & a live oak tree were planted.

2006-The historical coloring book is issued & made available to County Schools.

2007 More improvements were made including new furnace, kitchen flooring, & standing seam roof over the kitchen.

2010 The Foundation funded a new archeological study by Fairfield Foundation. The report was issued in 2012, with a great deal of information about the property.

2011 - Seven double-hung third floor windows were reconstructed or rebuilt and storm windows added with approval of the Dept. of Historic Resources.

2013 -Celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Club, remembering 60 years of hosting the Garden Week Tours for Gloucester, fulfillment of our purpose to preserve and maintain the Edge Hill House for posterity, support of many, many, community cultural customs and activities.

2018 –Club house available as a venue, during tours and events.