Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Colonel John Martin House, Stokes County, NC

I'm always impressed (and sometimes jealous) when my overseas blogger friends post wonderful pictures of castles and abbeys, all sorts of amazing medieval buildings that we don't have here in North Carolina.

But we do have an imposing ruin up in Stokes County, a good hour's drive from Greensboro. The Colonel John Martin House, also known as the Rock House, was built in 1789 up in the Sauratown Mountains near the Virginia border.

We kept driving on these windy back roads thinking that we would 1) either be lost up in the mountains forever (my cell had no service) or 2) hit someone head-on on one of the blind curves trying to find the house. It's not Europe where you have those mirrors on the curve to show you oncoming traffic. You just have to drive blind and hope the other person is obeying the double yellow line.

We finally found the site, a short drive down a gravel road. Here is all that is left of a four-story house that was once the largest house in Piedmont North Carolina:

During the Revolutionary War, this was a rallying spot for the local militia against the British troops who came through with Lord Cornwallis and was also used as a fort during the Saura Indian raids in the area.

Made of dry stack stone, what is left has been stabilized to prevent the outside walls from falling into the basement. Two years ago a wrought iron fence was built to surround the entire house to keep it from being vandalized further (graffiti had been sprayed on the steps and fires had been set in the basement). All these snapshots were shot between the bars of the nine foot tall fence.

And the view of the Sauratown Mountains from the front of the house.

(Update 4-5-12): Obviously everything you find on the Internet may not be accurate. A comment from an anonymous poster who stumbled across my blog. His is probably the correct history of John Martin and the area:

The Saura Indians were wiped out by disease long before 1789. John Lawson visited their village in in 1708 or 1709. By the time Byrd (surveyor of the VA/NC line) visited the village in 1728 it was abandoned. The last hostile Indian activity in the area was in the early 1750's at Bethabara, the settlement that preceded Salem. Cornwallis troops didn't venture as far north as Stokes Co. The area as was the rest of the countryside was a hotbed of Partisan/Tory activity throughout the war. 

No comments: