Today I headed to an estate sale at Talbot Hall, which is one of Norfolk's more historic homes and one of only a few antebellum plantation homes to survive time and tide. We need more stuff for our own house like a hole in the head, but I was lured by the kayaks mentioned in the classifieds, plus I wanted to see the inside of this home. The original house was completed in 1803 and was added onto several times by the Talbot family, which owned the home until the 1950's when it was gifted to the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia. The diocese is currently thinking they may no longer like to own the property, and it might be put up for sale. Unfortunately the house has never been listed on the National Registry, nor is it under any other kind of protection. In a city where a good amount of our history has been "redeveloped", I hope a similar fate does not befall this house and its beautiful grounds.
Like most historic Tidewater homes, the money side of the house always faced the water, because that is how guests came and went. The house is flanked by a pair of Magnolia grandiflora that were planted when the house was built, which would make them over 200 years old. They tower over the 3 story house and have seen their share of nor'easters and hurricanes, named or otherwise.
Once inside the house, you can easily see that it was built as a classic, two rooms up and two down, center hall colonial. The large back to front hall, big windows and one room depth of the house took advantage of any available breeze in an age before air conditioning.
Local legend has it that the house survives because it was one of the few not burned by the Yankees. When the Union made their way towards Norfolk, the Talbot family fled into the city entrusting the property to their slaves who pleaded with the soldiers to spare the home. When they entered the house and spotted a plaster seal of the United States over the parlor fireplace, they figured Confederate sympathizers did not live there. The seal is original to the house and shows 17 stars, the number of states when the house was built.
To balance the parlor, one resident had the seal of Virginia installed in the dining room. Our state's current (and prudish) Attorney General, Ken Cuccinelli would aprove of the seal as it has both of Virtus' breasts covered. Normally the left breast is bare as she steps on a figure of tyranny (Great Britain) with his broken chains and fallen crown. Ironic isn't it, for a state that went to war to defend one's right to own another human being?
Other than these photos, I left the estate sale empty handed. The used kayaks were ridiculously expensive and even though they will be half price tomorrow, they still cost more money than many a new one.