In 1882 tobacconist George S. Hughes purchased the lot at 858 Pine Street from John T. Watson, who owned the parcel and a sizable section behind it. Five years later, Mr. Hughes took out a loan of $2,500, presumably to build a house. The loan was renewed in 1895, but Mr. Hughes eventually defaulted. To recover the debt, the house went up for auction in August of 1901. Judging by the number of people the Danville Directory identifies at this address, it seems likely Mr. Hughes rented rooms out in order to keep up the payments on his loans. After his loans defaulted, he took a job with W. T. Hughes & Company and relocated to Louisburg, North Carolina.
Colonel Hughes is an old resident of Danville and was a pioneer in the tobacco exporting business, having been the senior member of the late firm of Geo S. Hughes & Co. He has always borne and sustained the reputation as a kind-hearted and refined gentleman, and will be greatly missed by his numerous friends in this city, all of whom join the Journal in best wishes for his success and future prosperity.
As a result of the auction, the house was acquired by John C. and Pattie B. Dickerson, who lived here with their seven children until 1918, when the house was sold again, this time to John D. and Mattie L. Ferguson.
John D. Ferguson was a tobacco buyer. He and his wife Mattie lived in the house with their six children. The family maintained ownership of the house for several decades. When Mr. Ferguson’s health began to fail in 1941, he and his wife moved to the family home in Banister, Virginia, leaving the Danville property in the able hands of his two formerly married daughters. Daughter Parke Wilcox, divorced, had worked as a dietician and teacher with the State Teacher’s College at Radford before returning home, where she became a corsetier with Spencer Corsetiere and took fittings from the house. Daughter Martha Ikner, a widow, worked as a “beauty operator.” It was during this time that the home was converted into apartments, and it’s possible that the women rented rooms out to fellow colleagues, as one such also worked as a “beauty operator” and another as a manager in a “slenderizing salon.” Besides these lodgers in the 1940’s, the home had three additional apartments.
In 1945, a third Ferguson daughter, Ruth Mowbray returned to her childhood home. She remained there until she sold the house in 1959 to M. W. Shelton, who seems to have maintained it as a rental property. The home changed hands several more times before the Danville Rehabilitation and Housing Authority acquired it in 2014.
The home recently sold to Durham resident Nichole Lewis, who hopes to take occupancy by next summer and restore the home to its formerly intended glory (see companion piece).