Where We Live: Colonial Portsmouth home is a step back in time


PORTSMOUTH — The Revolutionary War shook Hampton Roads, but for one Portsmouth home, it was personal.

Verle and Ron Weiss own a five bedroom, five bathroom colonial period home, which sits blocks away from the Elizabeth River, the Tidewater Yacht Marina and the Naval Hospital on North Street in Olde Town Portsmouth.

It was built in 1772 and soon after burned to its foundation after General Charles Lee gave the command in an effort to instill loyalty in colonists for King George III.

“Charles Lee came through because reverend [John] Agnew owned the house, and he was an Episcopalian priest,” Verle said. “General Lee was notorious.”

This was around the same time general Charles Cornwallis moved his troops from Portsmouth to Yorktown, according to Verle’s passage in the homeowners’ book about the property titled “The Innkeeper’s Guide: The Patriot Inn.”

It was rebuilt in 1784 by Virginia Militia Lieutenant Thorowgood Keeling and that same dwelling stands today. The home features 18th century wainscoting, five original and refurbished fireplaces, hand-blown glass windows, original heart pine wood floors and fireplace surrounds and mantles.

Though the home has a historic theme, it also features modern amenities like cable connections in the bedrooms, gas fireplaces and a sound system with speakers in most rooms.

The George Washington parlor sits to the right of the front door and is furnished with period light fixtures, furniture and a large dark brown piano. According to Verle, this is a room people would have been entertained in, whether it be through dances, a game of cards or listening to a musician perform. Next to the parlor is the Thomas Jefferson library, the dining room, kitchen and downstairs bathroom.

Up the home’s original staircase are bedrooms, or bed chambers as the Weiss’ call it, named after Revolutionary War figures like General Lee, General Marquis de Lafayette and Reverend John Agnew, a Tory Episcopal reverend who owned the original home before it burned to the ground sometime between 1775 and 1776.

The home’s basement is refinished as a “man cave” and its attic was converted into a bedroom and bathroom. Many of Verle and her youngest son’s artwork adorn the home’s walls, which were all framed at Hartung Gallery & Art Supplies in Portsmouth.

Verle said she and Ron have invested $800,000 to $1 million in the home to give it an authentic 18th century feel. They operated the home as a bed and breakfast called the Patriot Inn from 2001 to 2012.

“We sold our land in Iowa back to our families that we had inherited it from, and we put that into this house,” Verle said.

This home is available for sale by realtor Jessica Brown at Shaffer Real Estate. Contact her at 757-615-2266, Jdmsells@gmail.com or her website.

Where We Live is a  feature looking at the homes and unique places to stay. Do you have a Southside home — on or off the market — that our readers may be interested in seeing? Let me know at justin@southsidedaily.com.

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