Boykins house earns landmark designation

Published 11:38 pm Tuesday, October 7, 2008

RICHMOND—A Greek Revival-style house in Boykins is one of four properties in the Tidewater Region that have been added to the Virginia Landmarks Register by the Department of Historic Resources.

Constructed by the founder of Boykins, the 4,000-square-foot Beaton-Powell House is especially significant for its connection to two families that were instrumental in the town’s history.

Edward Beaton purchased the 600 acres of property known as the Boykins farm that laid the foundation for the town’s incorporation 49 years later. The home that Beaton built — on what would become Main Street later — was passed to his son, William, who was the town’s first postmaster and mayor.

William Powell, another mayor of the town, bought the house in 1902 for $3,902. His son, William Hugh, who became the owner of the house in 1922, operated a furniture and dry goods store in town.

William Hugh Powell’s son, Jackson Powell, was director of instruction for Southampton County Schools and owned the house until his death. He also served many years as a town councilman and as superintendent of the Boykins Baptist Church Sunday School.

“Both the Beaton and Powell families were instrumental in the development of the Town of Boykins,” the application for the historic designation stated. “Their legacy lives throughout Boykins. Under the stewardship of both families, the house remains without significant alterations and offers an opportunity to experience history and to imagine how the Beatons and the Powells lived in eventful times now past.”

Current owners William A. Johansen and Lisa L. Morin prepared the application that was considered by the commonwealth’s Department of Historic Resources.

With the approval of two of that department’s boards, the home is now included in the Virginia Landmark Register. Notice of the designation will be forwarded to the National Park Service so that the home may be listed in the National Register of Historic Places, according to Kathleen S. Kilpatrick, director of the state agency.

Neither listing restricts a property owner’s choices about what to do with his property, according to historic resources officials. But the listings give owners of historic properties a chance to pursue state and federal tax credits for rehabilitation and improvements. Those improvements must comply with federal standards, which are administered in Virginia by the Department of Historic Resources.

During the past few years, Virginia has been a national leader in registering historic sites and districts, according to department officials. The state is also a national leader for the number of tax-credit rehabilitation projects proposed and completed each year.

Also added to the landmarks register last month were Sussex County’s Glenview, a two-story frame dwelling with sections dating back to about 1800; Suffolk’s Somerton Historic District, a village settled by colonists in the 17th century as a stop-over on the way to North Carolina from historic Suffolk; and Hampton’s Old Wythe Historic District, a suburb along the waterfront in an area where the oyster and crab industry had previously flourished.