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Williamsburg - Brush-Everard House


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Brush-Everard House

Built in 1718 by the first keeper of Williamsburg's Magazine, John Brush's five-bay, timber framed, story-and-a-half house of hand-split weatherboard stands in modest contrast to its lofty next-door neighbor, the Governor's Palace. But it is not without elegance of its own.

Brush, a gunsmith and armorer who died in 1727, left an early example of the fashionable center-passage plan house on the east side of Palace green for his successors to improve upon. Although the house has been modified many times, it has reached the 20th century replete with many examples of, and clues to, 18th-century interior decor. Newfound fragments of original wallpaper and patches of original paint have recently been used to inform the house's continuing restoration.

The Everard House is noted for its fine staircase with its elaborately turned balusters, sweeping handrails, and richly ornamented carving on the stair brackets. The yard between the house and the smokehouse and the brick kitchen--both original and restored--is paved with original brick discovered during archaeological investigation.

After Brush's death, the house went to his daughters, Elizabeth and Susanna. Elizabeth sold her share of the property to Susanna's husband, Thomas Barbar. After her husband's death, Susanna sold the property to Elizabeth Russell, a widow from York County. Sometime in the 1730's Elizabeth married Henry Cary, a prominent local builder or undertaker as builders were called in the 18-th century. Cary was responsible for completing the Governor's Palace and for building the chapel and president's house at the College of William and Mary. It was during their time in the house that the staircase was added as well as much of the wood trim seen in the house today.

In 1742 the Carys sold the property to William Dering, a painter and dance master. Dering had continuing financial problems which resulted in the house being mortgaged and eventually sold.

In the mid-1750's Thomas Everard purchased the property. Everard was born in London and was an orphan by the age of ten. At that time he was admitted to Christ's Hospital, a school for orphans that is still in existence today. At Christ's Hospital Everard learned bookkeeping and recordkeeping skills. In 1734 Everard was discharged from Christ's Hospital in the care of his uncle, Edward Everard and a London merchant, Edward Athawes, to be apprenticed to Matthew Kemp, a merchant in Williamsburg, for a period of seven years. Within a year of completing his apprenticeship, Everard received his first public appointment - clerk of the Elizabeth City County court. Everard served in many other public offices including clerk of the York County court (from 1745 until his death in 178 1), deputy clerk of the General Court, clerk of the Secretary of the Colony's office, mayor of Williamsburg (he served two one-year terms) and was a member of the Court of Directors of the Public Hospital.

In the 1770's Everard showed his support of Virginia's move toward independence by signing the 1770 Non-Importation agreement and by serving on the committee to elect Virginia's delegates to the Continental Congress.

By the 1770's Everard had become a very prominent member of the Williamsburg community. He owned a house and property in Williamsburg, 600 acres of land just outside of town and over 1,000 acres of land in the western part of Virginia. He had a number of slaves on the property. At least two of these slaves wore livery to greet Everard's guests and determine their reason for coming to see Mr. Everard. He also had at least two of his slaves that would accompany his carriage as he rode to Yorktown to attend to business at the county court. It was also in the early 1770's that Everard made changes to the house to make it more up-to-date, including rebuilding the rear or south wing which had been taken down by John Brush, adding wallpaper to several of the first floor rooms, putting carpeting into and repainting the parlor and adding wainscoting to the first floor rooms.



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