Above the City's Gate

417 Haymes Lane, Chatham, Virginia
By Jonathan C. Mitchell, Sarah E. Mitchell, and Henry H. Mitchell

Tunstall-Haymes House

Situated on a hill above the south entrance to the town, just behind the “Welcome to Chatham” sign, is a charming Gothic Revival home. The house initially was a massive four-room log structure, two rooms up and two rooms down, reportedly built in 1836 or before. A few years later it was apparently redesigned into a Gothic-style building with prominent gables. The first owners of the property were Samuel Tunstall and his wife (and first cousin) Anne Tunstall, and the land was a portion of her family's Belle Grove Plantation. Its traditional name is “Cherry Hill,” apparently derived from its position of prominence above Cherrystone Creek.

Samuel and Anne Tunstall moved with her brother William H. Tunstall to Mississippi in the late 1850's, at which time the house, dependencies, and five hundred acres were sold for $10,000.

The property was later owned by the Ragsdale and Minor families. During the past century, it has been home to a succession of five generations of the Haymes family. The house has been expanded several times, the most notable being during the 1920's. During a late-20th-century renovation, owners Bill and Ann Haymes discovered that the original log rooms were insulated (behind lathe and plaster) with newspapers from the John Tyler administration (1841-1844), which probably indicates the approximate date of the house's conversion from log to stylishly Gothic.

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Related Book

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History of Pittsylvania County, Virginia

History of Pittsylvania County, Virginia

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