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Thompson House Gets Historical Plaque
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Thompson house imageThe Reuben Brown House Preservation Society (RBHPS) unveiled its fifth historical plaque Tuesday at the home of John and Sara Thompson on North Madison Street.

RBHPS plaque committee chair Jim Brooks presided over the ceremony and Mayor Terry Mann unveiled the plaque as other RBHPS members and people in the community watched.

Brooks, who described Donna Scott as the "workhorse” on the committee, said the plaque program began about a year ago and this is the fifth time the plaque has been awarded to a building.

The home was built by Thompson’s father, John Elbert Thompson, in 1935. It was designed by Boney of Wilmington and built by the Smith Brothers of Whiteville. Thompson kept a record of everything he spent on the house in a small notebook, which shows a grand total of $7,172.

While the house was under construction, Thompson’s mother visited the construction site and measured the front door. She advised that it was not wide enough for a casket to fit through, and the door was enlarged.

At that time there were no funeral homes so the visitation was done at home and the caskets were kept at home until burial.

Rick Maxwell told John and Sara that his dad, Richard Maxwell, visited the construction site with John’s dad who jumped on the floor to see if it was strong enough.

In 1954 the south bedroom and two upstairs bedrooms were added by A.G. Carter Construction Co. for a cost of about $50,000.

Thompson house image2The Thompson home is a brick structure with a slatelike roof. The interior walls are plaster and the floors are oak. It has four bedrooms, a study, living and dining rooms, breakfast room, sunroom, laundry and a dirt floor basement. There is also a separate garage with small living quarters for guests.

"John and I are happy that we could raise our three children in the home that he and his brother Mack were raised in,” Sara Thompson said. "The location was perfect for us. We were the meeting place for lots of teens and we have enjoyed entertaining in a house that was designed perfectly for this purpose.

"We are grateful for the Thompson Home to have been passed on to us and we are hopeful to one day pass it on to one of our children or grandchildren.”

The front yard reflects the beauty of large red maples and Japanese maples, which were planted about 70 years ago. During the unveiling ceremony, John Thompson said his mother planted the trees when he was about five years old and Sara said "there have been many questions over the years about the red trees in our front yard.”

"We had a wood-burning insert and I started putting the ashes around the trees,” John said. Apparently that was healthy for the trees as they are among the largest in this area.

John explained that the house was enlarged in the 1950s by raising the roof to create upstairs bedrooms for him and his brother Mack and the back porch was closed in.

Reuben Brown House Preservation Society President Janice Young said a structure must be at least 75 years old to qualify for a plaque. It can be a house, school, church, barn, cemetery or other structure.

"It’s not terribly complex,” she said. "You will be doing honor to the longevity of the building and the people who have kept the buildings up,” she said. "The award can be approved for buildings that meet the criteria.”

The historical Reuben Brown House Preservation Society plaques have been unveiled at the Reuben Brown House at the corner of Franklin and Columbus streets, Columbus County Courthouse, Burns Law Office on Pinckney Street, Bank of Whiteville (now Willie Wood’s law office in front of the old courthouse) and now the Thompson House, all in Whiteville. Two more plaques have been approved by the review committee but the owners have not yet purchased their plaques.

RBHPS members hope to branch out in paying tribute to other historical buildings throughout Columbus County.

For more information visit www.ReubenBrownHouse.com.

By Clara Cartrette

Article and Images Courtesy of and as Published November 23, 2015 in The News Reporter www.Whiteville.com

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.

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