Its Black History Month, and I have a treat for you! Right in my own backyard is the preservation of history! I am not related to the Barnes family, but I truly enjoy the history associated with this property. The Barnes House was built in 1797 for a wealthy local family and eventually rented to Gavin and Susannah Adams along with 34 acres of land surrounding the property. The Adams used the Barnes House as a tavern and place to sleep for travelers passing through the area. The house and land were purchased by Moses and Nancy Copen in 1834, who owned seven slaves including Jane Barnes and her three children (included Eppa Barnes).
Following the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation, the property (house and 7.5 acres) was gifted to Jane Barnes. Prince William County (PWC) does not have all the historical records for this property because a lot of records were lost, burned, etc. during the Civil War. However, in 1875, Eppa Barnes married Amanda Lambert, and in 1899, they purchased the property. Eppa and Amanda were very successful, ultimately purchasing over 300 acres and raising 12 children in the Barnes House! For my prior posts on the Barnes House, check out 29 Oct 2015 – Restoration of Historic Barnes House at Montclair Community Library, 4 Feb 2016 – Update On The Historic Barnes House and Jan 2019 – Update: Restoration of Historic Barnes Home.
The PWC Historical Preservation Division did a tour of the Barnes House on 9 Feb 2019. Since relocation to the Montclair Library in November 2014, the house has been restored on the inside and out with central heating and air conditioning added. When looking at the Barnes House, you can quickly see there are two doorways in the front of the house. It’s not clear why, but my guess is that two doors were needed to accommodate the large family. If there was a fire, two doorways would enable you to get the family out of the house much quicker. Also, two doors would provide extra ventilation, especially when using a wood burning stove. Others believe the two entry doors serve separate purposes, one entry for daily activities, and one entry for more formal events or one door for ease of access for funerals. We may never know why, but building houses with two front doors was considered a norm during the time this house was built.
Our tour guides from the PWC Historical Division did an awesome job explaining what’s known about the house to include living conditions during the time it was built. Following are pictures from inside the property:
The house has four working fireplaces, all near doors or windows where cold air could enter. There are two fireplaces on the main level and two fireplaces upstairs. It’s believed the house had a wood burning stove for cooking; however, during that time, the stove would have been so large it would be difficult to move around in the room. So when the house is ready for routine use by the library, the cooking demonstrations will probably be done in one of the fireplaces.
In the picture above, you will notice the walls are exposed. There is no wall board. I think the PWC Historical Division wants to preserve the house’s original form as much as possible, but adding heating and cooling will be very expensive without some insulation in the walls. So, you will notice that wall board has been placed throughout the house. There are hooks on the left side prior to the doorway in the picture above that are pretty high up from the floor. It’s unclear why the hooks were positioned so high up. I don’t think the hooks were used for coats. I believe the hooks were used to dry out meats or other foods.
The doorway in the above picture actually used to be an exit door to the outside behind the house. There are two exit doors for this house. The room you see above is an addition to the original house. Once inside you can see the original exterior siding (see below).
All of the above pictures are on the main level. The picture below shows the stairway leading upstairs. There is evidence of paint and wallpaper on the walls as you walk upstairs. Be careful because the stairway is pretty steep.
Once upstairs, if you turn to the right (see below), there’s a small room that was probably used for sleeping. Note the fireplace in the middle of the two windows.
In the picture below, you will notice parts of a newspaper advertising Milk of Magnesia, and a suit for no money down at the price of $18!
If you have historical facts associated with this property, please share by leaving a comment or contacting me.
During our tour, it was mentioned that the next major event for the Barnes House will be in May 2019. I’m really looking forward to future restoration efforts on this house. Follow my site to stay informed about the history surrounding this beautiful house and family along with many other topics!
Between The Dashes