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Jan
24

Fort Colvill

By
When:
January 19, 2020 all-day
2020-01-19T00:00:00-05:00
2020-01-20T00:00:00-05:00

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Colvill Fort-Thomas Marquis Springhouse

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Navigate street view and zoom in.

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https://goo.gl/maps/HccFx

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Some mistakes were made on whether this was Colvill’s Fort or Thomas Marquis’s place.

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You will notice this sit incorrectly calls this Fort Colvin

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http://preservationvirginia.org/preserve/buy-historic-property/thomas-marquis-springhouse

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Joseph Colvill purchased 360 acres from Joist Hite  6 March 1744 across the Opequon Creek from this strong house.

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Not researched but heard it said someone died from a branch falling on them on this property.

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More research coming on the status of this site.

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Joseph Colvill’s will was proved in May 1758 and disbursement of some of 15 pounds to be paid after “the troubles :(French and Indian War) is over.

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Page  145-146 Norman Baker’s French and Indian War in Frederick Co VA

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See landmark application

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http://www.apva.org/revolvingfund/pdf/fort_colvin_national_regsister_nomination.pdf

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https://www.dhr.virginia.gov/historic-registers/034-0026/

 

 

For additional information, read the Nomination Form PDF

VLR Listing Date 03/07/2007

NRHP Listing Date 05/08/2007

DHR Virginia Board of Historic Resources easement

NPS property number 07000416

Fort Colvin, built circa 1750 on the banks of the Opequon Creek, is a rare surviving example of 18th-century colonial architecture in the Lower Shenandoah Valley. A representative of architecture commonly found in the Ulster region of northern Ireland, it is believed to have been built by some of the first European settlers in this area of Virginia.

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Local legend holds that the house was built as a settler’s fort by Gen. Joseph Colvill.

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The settlement to which the house belonged was the first multi-ethnic settlement established west of the Blue Ridge in Virginia, containing 22 households of Scots-Irish and German settlers, and may have served as the basis for settlement in the remainder of the Lower Shenandoah Valley. Though other houses of this period survive, Fort Colvin is unique in that it retains characteristic form and architecture, such as the small, one-and-a-half story rectangular design, with a central stone chimney. Fort Colvin thus presents the opportunity for further study into the early European settlement of this area, both through the traceable influences on its architecture and the archaeological potential of its surrounding land to inform historians about early farmstead life in the Valley. In June 2007, a preservation easement was placed on the property.

Abbreviations:
VLR: Virginia Landmarks Register
NPS: National Park Service
NRHP: National Register of Historic Places
NHL: National Historic Landmark

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https://www.dhr.virginia.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/034-0026_FortColvin_2007_NRfinal.pdf

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The earliest reference to the land that includes Fort Colvin is noted in a warrant acquired in 1750 by Thomas Marquis and John Willson for a survey of the ungranted land near where they lived in proximity to Opeckon (now Opequon) Creek.2

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The following year a detailed survey was prepared, including a detailed drawing of the property and a description of boundaries. The drawing shows a structure marked “Marquis his Spring House”, and this building is located in the same area as Fort Colvin is today.

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The springhouse may have formed the earliest core of Fort Colvin, meaning the earliest portion of the house could pre-date 1750.

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A letter from local architectural historian John Lewis to Kay Dawson, owner of the property in 1990, suggests that “the ‘Fort’ might have been a log spring-house which was improved by re-building it with stone…”3

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Lewis must have reached this hypothesis based solely on a physical examination of the structure, as there is nothing in the way of documentary evidence to support the theory.

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The letter does not make any reference to the patent description which locates Thomas Marquis’s springhouse on the same site as Fort Colvin.4

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The only other possibility is that Fort Colvin was built by the Marquis family before 1772, the year the property, which included 151 acres as well as the structure now known as Fort Colvin, was sold to the Joseph Jones family. The description of the property and acreage do not allow definitive mapping of this parcel.

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However, as this is the only known transaction between the Marquis and Jones families, it almost certainly includes the Fort Colvin tract and is mentioned in court instruments regarding the Jones property in the nineteenth century.5

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Even without the court documentation, it is highly improbable that the Jones family built Fort Colvin, given that they were an English family and the structure contains elements possibly indicative of Ulster vernacular architecture from the time period.

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Fort Colvin is unusual because its form and plan is different from other 18th-century stone houses located along the banks of Opequon Creek, but it is also significant because unlike these other houses, Fort Colvin was never expanded into a larger house.

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Aside from slight alterations to the south wall of the building from repairs, it has largely retained its original 18th-century size and architectural style.

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Given that the frame wall on the southeast corner of the structure is of newer construction than the main structure, at some point this portion of the structure probably collapsed and was replaced by an indented, frame wall reorienting the entrance to a position sheltered by a porch whose posts are inserted between the existing wall plate and the door.6

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The roof was constructed with common rafters without a ridge pole, which was a common style of roof framing in 18th-century Europe. This type of roofing is also prevalent in the other 18th-century structures still existing on Opequon Creek. Architectural historians agree that American colonists developed the common rafter roof after the discovery that riven clapboards, readily yielded up by American forests and nailed directly to the rafters, produced a rigid and durable roof.7 Also, because the house is perpendicular to thecreek with the gable side facing water, the roof ridge points toward the water as well, making the axis of the house run down rather than along the hill slope. Such positioning suggests that there may have been expectations of longitudinally expanding the structure.

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The building’s central-hearth plan was popular in 18th-century Ulster, where most dwellings had at least one story, two rooms, a central chimney, and an entrance into a lobby adjacent to the hearth. However, this plan was almost unheard of in the houses on Opequon Creek, where gable-end chimneys and hearths were more prevalent. The anomaly is surprising, since the form and plans of the house is strongly reminiscent of Ulster, where many of the other Scots-Irish settlers in the area originated. They certainly would have been familiar with the central-hearth design, but most chose instead to build simple log cabins on their arrival instead. During the early stage of settlement, few could afford to devote large sums of money to housing construction. The simple log cabins were later readily adaptable to the 18th-century symmetrical designs that later became popular.8 The central-hearth plan may at least partially explain why Fort Colvin survived until the present day with relatively few modifications. The central-hearth design is less adaptable than its gable end hearth contemporaries in the late eighteenth century, which may have discouraged expansion of the structure into a large Georgian-style dwelling. 9 As a result, Fort Colvin is a rare surviving example of frontier construction with its roots in Irish vernacular architecture. In addition to the main building, there is a stone foundation to the northeast of the main house, and just southwest of the house are the remains of a footbridge. Cement footings are all that remain of the footbridge that once would have provided access over the spring-fed tributary leading under the house.

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