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Menhaden Mansions

The Victorians of Reedville


View 2004 Peripetic Summer on greatgrandmaR's travel map.

August 2004

After our short trip across the Potomac in July, we've been kept in port by all the hurricanes coming up the coast, and also by my dental appointments. We started off for our first longer boat trip of the summer - a long weekend at the beginning of August. We will begin by going down to Reedville on the Great Wicomico in Virginia

6 August 2004 - Overnight in Reedville

It was about 10 before we got the boat dried off, and got her ready to leave. The wind tried to blow us sideways into the slip, but it worked out OK. We were going to get fuel, but Bob figured we'd never get off the fuel dock afterwards, and we don't really need it as we've got 50 gallons or more in the tanks. Bob did his usual trick of putting the sails up right away as we motored out the channel of Smith Creek. I had a hard time holding the bow into the wind which was 20-30 knots. Finally he turned away from the wind and got the rest of the sail up (just main and staysail) and turned the engine off, and we sailed toward the mouth of the Potomac.
Pound nets in Smith Creek

Pound nets in Smith Creek


I'm hoping that the winds will drop off a bit this afternoon as predicted - NOT. It is too windy and too many waves for me to feel comfortable using the digital camera. We hear on the radio that there is a sailboat taking on water off Point Lookout, and we see the Coast Guard boat from St. Inigos going out to him. Eventually we get to the mouth of the Potomac, and see him with the Coast Guard boat and also the state police helicopter overhead. According to what we hear on the radio, a plastic thru hull broke and a 2" stream of water was coming in to the boat. But it was so rough that the Coast Guard took all the passengers off, and took the boat in tow. They are having trouble getting the pump started so everyone is bailing. Found out from the paper later, that a small power boat was taking on water at about this same spot later in the day. We had a very fast trip downwind to Reedville. The peaches that were in the wire hanging basket got so beat up that Bob threw them out later.
Wicomico Spider

Wicomico Spider


As we come down to the Greater Wicomico, we see a menhaden boat coming out of the river. They apparently decided it was too rough for them, and turned around and went back to the dock along with all the rest of their kin.
Omega Protein boats and plant

Omega Protein boats and plant


Local fishermen alongside a docked menhaden boat

Local fishermen alongside a docked menhaden boat

Menhaden boat

Menhaden boat


Sailboat anchored up past the marina

Sailboat anchored up past the marina


The owner of the marina was not there, and they don't answer the radio, so I called on the phone and some of the restaurant personnel came out and helped us tie up on the face dock. His instructions to them before he left was that any boat less than 35 feet could take any available slip. I like a face dock better, although we are subject to a lot of dock walkers looking at the boat. When we tied up at Reedville Marina, we had gone 29.3 nm at an average speed of 5.7 knots. The GPS said the max speed was 9.8 knots which is more than our 7+knot hull speed.
Bob on the dock by the boat

Bob on the dock by the boat


We had an early dinner at the Crazy Crab
Inside the Crazy Crab

Inside the Crazy Crab

Crazy Crab Waitress with "Basket Case" on the back of her shirt

Crazy Crab Waitress with "Basket Case" on the back of her shirt


I had a crabcake (very good with lump crabmeat) with a tossed salad, broccoli and an enormous sweet potato (twice as big as my crabcake), and
Crab Cake Dinner with Sweet potatoes

Crab Cake Dinner with Sweet potatoes


Bob had shrimp salad which he said wasn't real shrimp with cole slaw and potato salad.
Shrimp salad plate

Shrimp salad plate


They also gave us some hush puppies. This was $29.16 before the tip.
Hush puppies

Hush puppies


Then we walked up as far as the museum. They were having an Antique and Classic Boat Show this weekend, and boats were on display on trailers and also at the docks behind most of the houses on Main Street.
The museum docks with the Claud Somers skipjack

The museum docks with the Claud Somers skipjack


The vessels at the dock include the skipjack Claud W. Somers which is part of the permanent collection. This 42' vessel was built in 1911 and worked Virginia waters until 1925 when she went to Maryland owners. Skipjacks are two-sail bateaus with sloop hulls, from which oyster dredging was done. They have no motors, and the only dredging done in the Chesapeake since 1860 is done by sailboats. Since the mid 1960's, some amendments have been made to allow for the use of motors behind sail dredging vessels called a push-boat. Currently, there are even areas in the Bay that allow motor dredging on other types of vessels. But for the better part of the Bay, you must be in a DNR registered oyster sailboat to engage in dredging for oysters in the winter months from November through March.
Skipjack at the pier

Skipjack at the pier


Elva C

Elva C


The Elva-C is a 55 foot By-Boat (a traditional work boat) which was built in 1922, and has been donated to the museum and restored by museum volunteers and local boatbuilder George Butler, whose family has owned Butler’s Marine Railway for three generations. The boat is also available for trips on the Bay and Cockrell Creek. At Christmas on Cockrell's Creek children welcome Santa as he arrives aboard the Elva C.
Three log canoe

Three log canoe

small boat shed

small boat shed


Some of antique and classic trailer able boats

Some of antique and classic trailer able boats


I got a walking tour map from one of the docents for the museum (she was leaving and it was too late to visit the museum again, but she ran back to get one for me), and I walked back along Main Street taking pictures of the houses that were on the tour or looked interesting.
Fisherman's Museum

Fisherman's Museum


Museum offices

Museum offices


The Pendleton Building

The Pendleton Building


I have not been to the Pendelton Building which was added in 2003 after we actually toured the museum. It provides the shop space and modern facilities for two of the RFM's major programs, Boat Building and Model Making. There are education programs and special events held throughout the year, such as Family Boat Building weekends and display of the Northern Neck Railroad.

In the Boat Building Shop, facilities are in place to construct traditional small boats and other craft. Boat building classes are held, and special "Family Boat Building Weekends" are offered throughout the year.
Beautiful house and garden near Fisherman's Museum

Beautiful house and garden near Fisherman's Museum


Reedville is named for Captain Elijah Reed, a sea captain from Maine who came down to this area in 1874 and saw in menhaden (a kind of small fish) a golden opportunity. Legend has it that, as early as the 1620's, the Indians taught the Pilgrims the value of burying menhaden in each hill of corn for fertilizer. By 1885, there were many menhaden factories on Cockrell Creek producing fish oil, meal and fertilizer from menhaden. Factory owners and fishing boat captains who made their fortunes from menhaden built homes along what is now Main Street. The "Millionaire's Row" mansions are now on the National Register of Historic Places. The Reedville Fisherman's Museum has restored some of the oldest homes, and has information about the menhaden industry and the history of Reedville.

Menhaden fishing has declined until there is only the one Omega Protein plant remaining on Cockrell Creek. But Reedville is also a significant charter fishing center for Chesapeake Bay bluefish and rockfish with more than 50 boats operating out of the area.
Charter dock and sign

Charter dock and sign

The Reedville Historic District begins at Crowder's Lane. I have not walked to the 300 block to take a photo of number one on the tour. I started with the church which is #2 on the walking tour because I knew I had to walk back to the marina later.
Bethany Methodist Church

Bethany Methodist Church


The second stop on the walking tour is at 454 Main Street. The Bethany Methodist Church was completed in 1901, and is noted for the magnificent wooden interior. The bell tower was added in 1921 under the supervision of Captain Fisher who hauled the bricks from New Jersey in one of his schooners.. It replaced the earlier wooden tower. The Reedville Town Hall, built in 1897 with the contributions of 20 subscribers totaling over $13,000. was built where I am standing in the church parking lot. It served as the towns first and only movie theatre, and they also had theatrical productions, commencements and other events there.

This is the William Walker house (504 Main Street) (Stop #3) the Oldest House in town.
William Walker house

William Walker house


It is the centerpiece of the Reedville Fisherman's Museum. It was built (according to local tradition) in one single day on 17 April, 1875 while Mr. Walker was out oystering. It was built on land which was purchased from Captain Reed (who came to Reedville the previous year) and is the oldest house still standing in Reedville. Out in front next to the house is a bronze propellor from a menhaden ship. The back of the oldest house has been 'attached' to the rest of the museum and a ramp added.
back of the house

back of the house


It has been restored and furnished with accessories and items that would have been typical of a waterman's home in the late 19th century. The museum docents give a tour of the house which is quite interesting.

Second Oldest House

Second Oldest House


Number 4 is the second oldest house still standing in Reedville. It was built in 1875 by Gamalian T. Robinson. In 1935, Harold Haynie and his wife Miriam bought the house . Miriam was a noted artist and she founded the Reedville Art League. She was also the author of a number of books about Reedville and the Northern Neck. These include: "The Stronghold," "A Kingdom by the Sea" and "Reedville: 1874-1974." These books (and others) are available in the Reedville Fisherman's Museum Gift Shop

682 Main

682 Main


Stop #5 was built in 1906 by John R. Muir. It was later enlarged and served as a hotel with a livery stable in the rear.There was a lady from NJ and her son sitting on the porch, and she said it was her house, and that Elijah Reed was her ancestor. The walking tour guide says, however, that the house is still owned by a member of the Muir family.

(Stop #6) Halfway down Reed's Lane (which is now Main Street) the Reed Monument is enclosed by an iron fence.
Reed Monument

Reed Monument


The fence is an example of the iron fences that once enclosed the yards of a number of the houses on Reed Lane aka Main Street. Sometimes these iron fences may have been sold as scrap for the war effort in WW II. This plot was the site of the interment of Elijah Reed and his wife, family and close friends. Subsequently, they were moved to Roseland Cemetery.
large_x06-100_0484.JPG
The monument says:
"Elijah W. Reed
"Born November 27, 1827
"Died January 27, 1888
"Founder of Reedville"

I don't have a photo of Stop #7 and I did not walk down "Tom Cat Alley" or Toulson Avenue to see #8. The walking tour pamphlet did not say why the street was locally called Tom Cat Alley. To make up for it, I have two photos of Stop #9
Morris House

Morris House


Captain Albert Morris and his wife built this three story Queen Anne styled Victorian house in 1895. It is one of the centerpieces of Reedville architecture. For instance, it is featured by the Reedville Museum in the Christmas lighting season. It is now a bed and breakfast. The elegant lower floor features "a tiled entrance hall and formal living and dining rooms that typify the wealth of the late 19th and early 20th century" industralist/entrepreneur. Captain Morris, along with his brother-in-law James Fisher, owned and operated the Morris-Fisher Menhaden Factory.According to their site: "The Morris House offers spectacular water views, a private dock, spacious suites, Jacuzzi's, fireplaces, antique collections,full breakfasts and more. A separate, two bedroom cottage is available daily or weekly"
Morris BandB

Morris BandB

#10 This building at #858 Main Street housed the Coast Guard office
Customs House

Customs House


(in addition to being the Customs House) and was the only place locally where a fishing license could be purchased.It is currently the acupuncture office of Claire Michie a L.Ac. who is a member of the Acupuncture Society of Virginia. Her sign also advertises Chinese Herbs.

This building at 876 Main Street (Stop #11)
Northern Neck State Bank

Northern Neck State Bank


was formerly the Peoples Bank of Reedville. It opened in 1910 and was built of the same brick as the Gables across the street. Captain Fisher supervised the construction. During the depression, this was the only rural bank to remain open, due to Captain Fisher who personally loaned the bank $109,000. Next to the bank in what is now the parking lot, used to stand the Dey Building which housed a law office, a milinery shop, a dentist, the Post Office, a bowling alley, a grocery store and a barber shop. It was razed in the 1950s.

#12 Reed's Wharf. Now we are down at the end of the street by the marina
Virginia Seafood Products plant

Virginia Seafood Products plant


Reed's Wharf is the original site of the Reed factory, and later the Chesapeake Oil and Guano Company factory. The area was the business hub of the community, and steamships bringing supplies to Reedville landed here. Many of the buildings that were here were destroyed by fire in 1925. Currently at this location is the Virginia Seafood Products plant for processing fish (which also sells bait and tackle and possibly fish), as well as Reedville Marina and the Crazy Crab restaurant

#13 861 Main - Sea Products.
13-861Main

13-861Main


The Reed and Rice Store which was at 861 Main Street was opened in December 1912, and was the very latest thing in retail esblishments at the time. Inside, there was a drug store with a marble soda fountain.A handsome stairway led to the upper floor where the ladies milinery department was located. Milliners came to the store each fall and spring by steamboat.The store also sold and delivered groceries, building supplies, coal and ice.The building is now the home of Sea Products. which sells prepared fresh or frozen fish and seafood.. Closed November to March.

The Gables #14 was built in 1909
The Gables

The Gables


with ships ballast bricks brought in from Baltimore in 1902 and stacked on site. They were periodically restacked so they would weather uniformly.Captain James C. Fisher aligned the roof with a compass. He erected the wooden mast of his schooner, the "John B. Adams" through the top two stories. Building the Gables took eight years because what was built one day, Capt. Fisher was likely to have torn down and rebuilt the next. Local historian, Miriam Haynie writes, "Finally, it was finished [in 1914] and stood in all its gabled Queen Anne glory -- with a fountain in front, a coach house on the side and a handsome wrought-iron fence to enclose it all." From the B&B website: "The brick arcadia wraps around three sides of the house with double doors opening into marble floored vestibules at each end of the wide center hall. The grand quarter- sawn oak staircase with hand carved “waves of the sea” and original parquet “sunrise” landings, sweeps up to the third floor. Opposite the stairwell are the antique filled parlors separated by massive oak pocket doors. Across from them is the formal dining room with its exquisite Venetian chandelier."On the second floor, French doors open into the marble floored vestibules leading to the wicker filled sun porches on each end of the center hall..."The third floor was the Captain’s billiard room. It is an octagonal room with the main cabin mast from the ship as the center support. It runs from the 3rd floor through the 4th floor and the massive slate roof is hung from the top of the mast on the compass rose. Small bell shaped rooms finished in double planking tongue and groove wood are located off the billiard room on the cardinal points of the compass.. ... The fourth floor is a virtual museum area, essentially unchanged since the Captain had it built. The mast continues to the top of the roof. The walls are all varnished double planking tongue and groove. All of the construction is mortise and tenon and was done by shipwrights. "
Looking out across the creek

Looking out across the creek


The Gables Coach House

The Gables Coach House


was built in 1880 as a stables for the Gables. Since April 2002, guests can now enjoy four lovely new rooms. The Coach House also houses the dining room, gift shop, an ice cream parlor and an outside bistro. Additional rooms are available at the Gables itself.

811 Main

811 Main


#15 This Queen Anne style house was built in 1888 by Elijah W. Reed's son George N. Reed.
811 Main

811 Main

(Stop #16)
Bailey Cockrell House

Bailey Cockrell House


The north wing of the Bailey Cockrell Queen Anne style home was built prior to 1884 to house Elijah Reed's factory workers. In 1886, Isaac Bailey purchased the house and one acre of land. An addition was then built which more than tripled the size of the house. Isaac Bailey designed and built the "Bailey Skiff" which was a popular open shallow draft fishing boat used in the lower bay region at the turn of the century.
791 Main Street

791 Main Street


In 1899, the house was sold to Dr. L.E. Cockrell, who had his office next door at 791 Main Street which is Stop #17

#18 Main Street #729 Chesapeake Oil
Chesapeake Oil

Chesapeake Oil


This building is uninhabited and appeared to be abandoned on both of our visits. The building was purchased from the Chesapeake Oil and Guano Company in 1884 by Captain John Hinton as a family home. Later it was called Reedville House and was used as a hotel with a livery stable in the rear.

On this lot (Stop #19)
Tommy's

Tommy's


there was originally the Blundon and Hinton store building - a grocery and department store. Behind the store was the Blundon and Hinton Cannery. Later it was the Reedville Market. In 2001 at our visit, this was Elijah's Restaurant (named after Elijah Reed the town founder). In 2004, the name had been changed to Tommy's Restaurant
Tommy's Restaurant and handicapped parking

Tommy's Restaurant and handicapped parking

View from the porch where I sat down to rest

View from the porch where I sat down to rest

Stop #20
Reedville Marina Railway

Reedville Marina Railway


In 1906, Isaac Bailey's workshop was on this site, and Sam Butler bought the workshop and set up the first marine railway. Several tools owned by Mr. Bailey are still being used today in building, restoring and conducting maintenance on many area boats. The railway is now being operated by the third generation. George Butler helped the Reedville Fishermans Museum to restore the byboat Elva C.
"Watermen pay a hauling fee and work on their own boats or they pay to have Butler repair and maintain their boats. The railway holds two boats

Original Texaco building

Original Texaco building


Kilduff Texaco-This interesting building with large oil tanks behind it is at 691 Main Street. It has a sign on it which says that it is the original Texaco building. It is now Kilduff Oil. They have heating oil and other products including biodiesel.

Stop #21 at 621 Main Street
621 Main Street

621 Main Street


This house was built in 1890. The first house here was built in 1876, but was burned down in 1888. (Loss by fire was quite common in wooden homes.) The story goes that after the fire, the family took out the pot of beans that had been cooking in the oven.and had them for dinner. The building appears to have some later non-authentic architectural additions (like the porch and the iron porch railings).

#22 617 Jett Foto
Jett Foto

Jett Foto


This building was built in 1912 and was first called Megill's Store. It had an ice cream parlor, a butcher shop and a bakery. When the street was widened, it was moved back to its current location. In 1944 it became the home of the Haynie Insurance Agency. Then it was the Reedville Art Gallery which sold the works of local artists. Now it is apparently a photographer's studio called Jett Foto

#23 607 Main
607 Main

607 Main


The private residence at 607 Main Street was built in 1890, and over the years has been the Crowther Meat Shop and the Miersch Barbar Shop.The home at 585 Main Street was built in 1884 for Captain Croswell, one of the last schooner captains of the Chesapeake.

Stop #24 is the Garrison House
The Garrison House

The Garrison House


which was built in the Queen Anne style in 1885, and was a boarding house for 25 years. Bob is walking on that side of the street. I took the picture because of the mermaid by the door.

Stop #25 The Masonic Hall A.F. & A. M.
Masonic Hall on Reed Street

Masonic Hall on Reed Street


at 31 Reed Street was built in 1927 in the Colonial Revival style. Behind the Hall was the Pythian Hall which served as the first Town Hall (before the one that was built next to the Bethany Methodist Church in 1897) and the only public school before Reedville High School was built in 1908.

As we walked back to the boat, we passed the
Steamboat Wharf

Steamboat Wharf


Reedville Steamboat Wharf which is right down on the end of Main Street next to the Reedville Marina.. They sell chum and ice for fishermen, and you can also come and buy fish fresh off the boat in the afternoon. I saw some cats and kittens on the roof and tried to take their photos
cats and kittens on top of the building

cats and kittens on top of the building

They put a big power boat named Fair Dinkum in front of us on the face dock.
Fair Dinkum on the dock in front of us

Fair Dinkum on the dock in front of us


Neither of us can stay more than Friday night, as they need the docks and slips for the boat show. After we got back to the boat, we got dessert (I had apple pie with ice cream and Bob had coconut cream pie) and took it back to the boat to eat. The restaurant was too full for us to get a seat, and it was pretty windy and cold to eat outside.

Saturday, August 7, 2004

Saturday, we wait for Fair Dinkum to leave - he needs a fan belt and no one here has any idea when or where one can be purchased. The gas dock is right in front of Fair Dinkum, and someone is there getting gas, so he has a hard time getting out. (And his being there makes it hard for other people to get in to get fuel, although we did see a single hander in a crab pot boat make a very nice job of it.) It is very easy to get off the dock with FAIR DINKUM gone. We push off about 9:20 and Bob puts up the main and jib, and turns off the engine when we get out of the river. We are following
another sailboat

another sailboat


that spent the night anchored up past the marina
an Old Chimney

an Old Chimney

Crab Pot boat

Crab Pot boat

Crab pots stacked on shore

Crab pots stacked on shore


Homes in Fleeton from Cockrell Creek

Homes in Fleeton from Cockrell Creek

On the Fleeton side, at the end of the peninsula is this building which looks like it might be a lighthouse, but smaller
Lighthouse model

Lighthouse model

After we get out of the Wicomico River, Bob puts up the main and jib, and turns off the engine.
Wicomico spider

Wicomico spider


We have the VHF radio on (as always) and hear someone inquiring of another boater if he was trying to avoid submarines by zig zagging. We passed the Reedville-Tangier ferry about 10:41
Tangier ferry

Tangier ferry


The wind decreased and at 1207, Bob started the engine. We are heading for Tangier

Posted by greatgrandmaR 00:09 Archived in USA

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