Vintage Veranda

110 Whittle Street, Chatham, Virginia
By Henry H. Mitchell

Bolanz-Howerton House

This simplified Queen Anne - style house presents an illustrator's ideal of a proper setting for gracious small-town life in late Victorian times. The home was built in the 1890's by the Bolanz family, who were active in various mercantile and industrial enterprises.

Henry Bolanz was the son of a German immigrant who was among several “high-tech” German families (others include Bilharz, Viccellio, and Sours) who settled in Pittsylvania Court House (now Chatham) during its early days. Bolanzes and Bilharzes were associated with local vineyard and winemaking enterprises. The 1878 Gray's Map of Chatham shows the Bolanz distillery established on Tanyard Branch, just downstream from the present-day Pruden Street entrance to Chatham Hall, and behind the first Bolanz home, which had earlier been the town's stage tavern, on Reid Street. Another 1878 Bolanz home was located at the southeast corner of Main Street and Halifax Road.

The distillery is said to have been a brandy manufacturing facility, utilizing locally-produced grapes, some grown on the adjacent present-day western slope of Chatham Hall's property.

By the Prohibition period, the distillery gave way to a Bolanz-owned ice plant on Pruden Street at Tanyard Branch. At the same time, Henry Bolanz opened a grocery store, “Bolanz's Corner,” at Main and Depot, site of the present Hampco building.

Since the Henry Bolanz family, the 110 Whittle Street house has been occupied by, among others, Overbeys, Woodsons, Wilsons, and Howertons. The rear expansion of the house was added around 1920 by Jesse I. Overbey, in order to create an up-and-down duplex for his sons Arch and Landon Overbey and their families.

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