Cedar Hill

Pittsylvania County, Virginia
By Henry Mitchell
Cedar Hill

Cedar Hill, April 2006.

One of Pittsylvania County's earliest homes (see “Virginia Colonial Vernacular Architecture”), Cedar Hill was long associated with the Payne/Fitzgerald/Motley family. It stands on the side of a hill overlooking the Banister River, five miles east of Chatham.

The property was owned in the mid-1700's by Capt. Reuben Payne. From him it passed to his son-in-law Edmond Fitzgerald, who is thought to have constructed the house in the 1770's. Edmond Fitzgerald gave it to his son William in 1819. (At the same time Fitzgerald gave equivalent homes to his son Edmond, Jr., and to his daughter, Elizabeth, wife of the Rev. Hoskins Stone.) Cedar Hill passed from William Fitzgerald to his daughter Nancy (Mrs. John, Sr.) Motley.

For many decades the property hosted a country store (the building still stands near the main house), which contained the Cedar Hill community post office. The store building still has a sign in it that says, “John W. Motley & Sons — Terms Cash”. T. F. Motley of Cedar Hill applied for a liquor license in an April 25, 1890 circuit court report. The Cedar Hill store was also a stop on the stagecoach road from Halifax to Chatham. Current owner Warren Price has identified the nearby Banister River location at which rocks and indentations along the both banks at a shallow spot indicate the old stagecoach ford.

The main house has four massive rock chimneys and numerous other original features including beaded clapboard, Cross and Bible doors, H and L hinges, mantels, and wainscoting. Many interior door facings are carved on the integral structural members, rather than applied to the frame in the typical manner. Present owners Mollie Holmes and Warren Price have extensively restored the house and its associated farm.


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