The Longwell House

The Longwell House

The home at 844 Pine Street was built around 1900 for Henry D. Longwell, a well-known and successful merchant.  Born November 19, 1858 in Milton, North Carolina, Mr. Longwell came to Danville around 1880 and opened a grocery store and confectionary.  He married Henrietta Gordon of Hillsboro, North Carolina and together they had eight children – sons Otway, Henry Jr., Eugene, and Herman and daughters Maggie, Ray, Lillian, and Alice.  Several had very noteworthy lives.

Son Eugene, wrote for the local newspaper, the Bee, for several years before going on to the New York Times.

Another son, Henry, moved to Salisbury, North Carolina, where he became a successful businessman, acquiring the Southern Hotel in 1914.

In 1915, youngest son Herman drowned in the Dan River.  He was only 19.  His father, resting at home and thought to be fatally ill, was not notified.  Instead Henry Jr. returned home from Salisbury to take care of the arrangements.  Their father did recover, however, and lived another three years.  He died suddenly in the home in February of 1918 having suffered a “stroke of apoplexy”.

In 1920, daughter Maggie married H. S. Moody and moved to Florida.

It was also in 1920 that daughter Lillian married Frank Sigman, a veteran and railroad brakeman.  The couple moved to Spencer, North Carolina, near his job in the Greensboro railyards.  In 1924, while on top of a train making inspections, a string of cars rammed into his train.  The jolt threw him to the ground and he was killed.  Once again, Henry Jr. made the necessary arrangements, which included military honors and burial in Greenhill Cemetery.  Lillian and her two children then returned to Danville to live with her mother for a time.  Sometime after 1930, when she was involved as a witness in a court case involving a local minister who was accused of assaulting a woman, Lillian moved to Florida to be near her sister Maggie.  Here she worked as a secretary for the circuit court.  She died in March of 1941 at the age of 40 of a prolonged illness.

In February of 1923, daughter Alice married Robert T. Fore, who worked in the Danville knitting mills. They made their home on Colquhoun Street until his death in 1928 after a long illness.  Alice, too, subsequently moved back into her family home on Pine Street bringing her two children.

By 1940, daughter Ray and her husband were also living there, though Lillian, by then, had relocated to Florida.  Ray worked as a bank stenographer and her name comes up often in legal notices of the 1940’s and 50’s.

Ray and Alice appeared to stay nearby, perhaps to care for their ailing mother, as it was they who took possession (and occupation) of the house when Mrs. Longwell died in October of 1942.

By 1960 the house became a rental property, though Ray lived there until 1972.  Alice died in 2000 at the age of 97.

In 2015 the Danville Residential Housing Authority acquired the property for resale.  Price reduced.  See the listing.