Major Events in the History of the Foundation

Maryland Man's Gift Restored Last Home Of Patrick Henry

Annual Foundation Meeting

[Lynchburg News, June 2, 1955]

BROOKNEAL, Oct. 31--Red Hill, last home of Patrick Henry, has been restored through the generosity of Eugene B. Casey of Rockville, Md., a man who gave $50,000 to the project because of his admiration for the Revolutionary War hero and a wish to see the home restored as a shrine to his memory.

Architect Stanhope S. Johnson of Lynchburg formally presented the completed job and the keys were turned over to James S. Easley, president of Patrick Henry Memorial FOundation, during the annual meeting of the foundation held here today at Hotel Brookneal.

After receiving many expressions of appreciation from board members, Casey said he was extremely gratified to have a part in establishing a shrine to one who did so much for the freedom of the American people.

"I hope this will help to create a greater interest in the wonderful character, Patrick Henry, and that people may learn that he did much of importance and said many more things of importance than 'give me liberty, or give me death,'" he added.

Johnson had illustrations and pictures of the original home of Patrick Henry and in each addition to the original he had taken accurate measurements and samples of wood removed from each addition so as to have the restoration an authentic reproduction.

More than $50,000 has gone into this building as an outright gift from Casey. Today, Easley, the president, asked the board of directors and trustees to cooperate in the fund-raising campaign for the upkeep and necessary expenses of the shrine. An endowment will be set up as the result of a gift from the will of the late Miss Ella Miller plus gifts received as memorials at the time of her death.

A motion was passed to change the charter of the foundation which calls for Richmond as the meeting place and change will be to Brookneal.

Shrine Dedication

Plans will be made in the immediate future to have a dedication of the shrine and this will probably take place April 29, 1957, the birthday anniversary of Patrick Henry to be in connection with the 350th Jamestown celebration.

After adjournment of the business session, the officials traveled the four miles to the shrine area. Mrs. Ralph Bellwood, manager, served as hostess for a group. her residence is on the shrine grounds in a portion which is the old law office.

Johnson acted as a guide for the tour of the two restored buildings. During this he called attention to the detailed work throughout the structures. Of special interest were the window panes which are reproductions of the handblown type.

Imported wallpaper in authentic patterns is used in the rooms and is reprinted from handcolored prints of the period. Some of these were originally from Scotland, England, and France and date back to mid-1700's and the early 1800's. The oldest paper in the house is the rag doll pattern on the second floor which was John Henry's nursery.

The timbers of the house are cross band sawed to imitate old pit sawed material. The outside walls are beaded, lap siding and the roofs are of cross sawed white oak shingles. The floors in the cottage are of select, best grade long leaf yellow pine. The nails for interior trim, such as door casings, window casing, etc. are imitation of original handforged nails made by a blacksmith. The kitchen out from the cottage a short distance has a brick floor and a large fireplace with crane and a warming oven.

One original hinge has been used on the door of the main entrance and all others over the cottage are reproduced from this one.

Architect Johnson expressed the desire that other original historic buildings around the shrine area would be restored and with special reference to the cemetery near the house.

Election of the board of directors is as follows: maj. John D. Guthrie, and Page Morton, both of Charlotte Court House; Quinn Eggleston and R. S. Chamberlayne, both of Drakes Branch; Mrs. William Page WIlliams, Brookneal; Henry McWane, and Stanhope S. Johnson, both of Lynchburg; E. H. Eitel, Samuel Holmes and James S. Easley, all of Halifax, Mrs. Ormonde Smith, Petersburg, and Casey.

New Officers

Officers for next year are president, James S. Easley; Quinn Eggleston, executive vice president; Maj. John D. Guthrie and Henry E. McWane, vice presidents; Mrs. Williams, secretary, and James R. Gilliam Jr., treasurer.

Buildings in the shrine are now open to the public and plans are now in process to furnish the buildings throughout. Mrs. Bellwood is serving as hostess for visitors.

Red Hill, consisting of about 1,000 acres, was bought from the estate of the late Mrs. M. B. Harrison, great-granddaughter of Patrick Henry. The foundation was organized in 1944 with Easley as president. The restoration has been underway for about two and a half years, since Casey's anonymous bequest.

Sending regrets and congratulations were Mrs. Alfred I. duPont, Montclair, N. J.; Dr. Theodore Adams, Richmond; Gen. George C. Marshall, Michael Francis Doyle, Philadelphia; Col. Frank McCarthy, Beverly Hills, Calif., and Mrs. S. B. Penick, Montclair, N. J., niece of the late Miss Miller. Miss Susan Dabney, Lynchburg, a niece, also attended.