The Brown House

The Brown House
W. N. Brown

The house at 608 Holbrook Avenue was built for William and Emily Brown. William Nicholas Brown was born in Albemarle County, Virginia in 1850. He married Emily Carrington Mosely in her home town of Lynchburg in 1891 where he operated a grocery store for several years. He resumed that business upon arriving in Danville, operating a grocery store on Union Street. At the time of construction, Mr. Brown had just completed a term as a Danville Delegate to the Virginia General Assembly and, at the age of 58, arrived at his new home with his six children ranging in age from three to twenty-six. During the home’s most recent renovation, a chalk-scrawled message tucked away on wide pine sheathing boards was discovered. It reads, “Rosa Brown moved into this house on Oct. 31, 1909.”

During his residence in the house, Mr. Brown was twice appointed by President Woodrow Wilson to serve as postmaster, once before the opening of World War 1 and then again after. In 1922, the couple moved to Florida and, five years later, Mrs. Brown died. Mr. Brown’s health began to deteriorate, and so he relocated once more to Georgia where he could be near his daughter. He passed away in her home in March of 1931.

After the Browns, the home was occupied by the family of William Baskerville Lewis and Margaret Watkins Lewis. Mr. Lewis was manager of a tobacco factory and later principle of W.B. Lewis and Sons Tobacco Company. Mr. Lewis was born in Halifax in 1866, while Mrs. Lewis was four years his junior. The couple had five children, a daughter, Claudia; and sons Thomas D.; William B. Jr.; W. Meriwether who represented the firm in Shanghai, China; Charles Watkins, who eventually moved to New York; and Gordon R. Lewis, who relocated to Darlington, South Carolina.

Mr. Lewis died suddenly of a heart attack on July 18, 1946, after which his county landholdings, including tobacco farms, were sold at auction. Mrs. Lewis passed in 1950.

For over twenty years, the house was owned and occupied by Kate L. Craft.  Mrs. Craft was an active member of the Order of the Eastern Star.

In 2013 the home went into foreclosure and was acquired by Steve and Susan Wilson, fellow Old West End neighbors and old house advocates. The couple painstakingly restored the home, including updating all its systems, addressing one or two structural issues that threatened the stability of the home, particularly in the kitchen, repairing the plaster and decorating the home so that it was in pristine condition when the present homeowners, Sonja Ingram and Val Nozzi, took ownership in February of 2018. The couple are the perfect owners for such a wonderful historic home. You can read more about them here.

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