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The History of the Reuben Brown House

History pg top imageThe Reuben Brown House is a late Federal-era farmhouse built between 1830 and 1840 on farmland in the vicinity of the current Columbus County Law Enforcement Center.  The house is typical construction of the period using the lumber from a saw mill on Pine Log Road which began operation around 1820.  The house has two larger main rooms, both with fireplaces and front doors, joined by a connecting door.  Two smaller rooms are attached, one opening off a front room and both opening out onto an enclosed passageway.

Reuben Brown was a school master for the Whiteville Academy subscription school (parents pooled resources to hire a school master and arrange for the school's expenses) from 1869-1870.  He moved here with his wife and nine children (it appears most and probably all of these children were living at home at that time) and moved into this History pg - lower rightfour room cottage.  The school was on the east side of the current Hwy. 701 North about opposite the present-day Whiteville Cemetery.  It is not clear why he lived so far from the school, but it may be that someone donated the use of the cottage and that is where is was.

House image2 dec15Reuben Brown served as school master for only one year.  He died in 1870 from an incident involving a prowler in the henhouse on his property.  There is some evidence he died from a gunshot wound, possibly inflicted by one of his sons who fired a gun, in the confusion, at what he thought was the prowler.

The Reuben Brown House as it sits now on the corner of Franklin and Columbus Streets is backwards.  When it was given to the Fine Arts Committee in 1967 by the Columbus County Commissioners, the members of the Committee borrowed money through the Whiteville Development Corporation to purchase the current lot from Gooley Gurganus and his wife, for relocation of the house to avoid demolition.  The Fine Arts Committee raised the funds to pay to have the house moved.  For Corn crib imagewhatever reason, the committee decided to have the house set up with the former front of the house facing the back of the lot.  The two largest rooms of the house, each with separate front door and fireplaces, opened onto a fairly wide, deep front porch.  What serves as a front door now was the back of the house, opening off the two smallest unheated rooms (one which was used as a larder or storeroom - the current bathroom).  The covered entranceway was used to hang up brooms and mops, and as a storage place out of the weather for pails, butter churns and similar kitchen and domestic tools.  The two largest rooms have large fireplaces and would have been used by the family for cooking, eating and sleeping.  The boys of the family slept outdoors in the summer and in a barn loft in winter.

The House has its original exterior siding, doors and windows (with many visible panes of old wavy glass), interior floors and ceilings.  The old interior plaster was replaced after moving, and the roof was replaced again in 2005.  The chimneys were demolished before moving, and the original bricks were stolen from the site.  The current chimneys were reconstructed from old brick purchased in Charleston, South Carolina.  The current bathroom fixtures were added in 1992, and the house received its first central heating and air conditioning system in the summer of 2002.

The Reuben Brown House is owned by the Reuben Brown House Preservation Society, Inc., a nonprofit organization which maintains the House and uses it as the setting for programs focusing on history, literary and cultural subjects.

The Reuben Brown House Preservation Society is an IRS Code 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Contributions to the RBHPS are fully tax-deductible for federal income tax purposes.

© 2020 - Reuben Brown House Preservation Society
Whiteville, NC 28472