Sebrell, R-P House named landmarks

Published 10:47 am Saturday, October 9, 2010

RICHMOND—The Virginia Department of Historic Resources added two treasures of Southampton County history — the Sebrell Rural Historic District and the Rochelle-Prince House — to the Virginia Landmarks Register on Friday.

The listings will be forwarded to the National Park Service for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places.

The Sebrell Rural Historic District comprises about 16.5 square miles between the Nottoway River, the Assamoosick Swamp and Old Hickory Road. It includes the village of Sebrell and its predecessor, a settlement informally known as Barn Tavern.

“The remnants of these two villages, situated roughly a half-mile apart, contain the largest concentrations of historic buildings in the district,” according to a statement from the VDHR. “The surrounding area features historic farms with a mix of large and small agricultural fields, timber farms, and pasture.”

Bruce Phillips, who owns 300 acres near Sebrell, cheered the news.

“The majority of the people in Southampton County are not aware of its deep, historic significance, and how long there have been people here,” Phillips said Friday. “We are very fortunate to have homes built in the mid-1700s and early 1800s still surviving. This historic district will call attention to that.”

Meanwhile, the Rochelle-Prince House, located in Courtland, was built around 1814 and served as the residence of James Henry Rochelle, a naval officer during the Mexican War and the Civil War who later served with the Peruvian Navy. His niece, Martha Rochelle Tyler, was a granddaughter of President John Tyler who also lived at the house.

“I think it’s great because it deserves it,” Lynda Updike, president of the Southampton County Historical Society, said Friday. “Many years ago the historical society tried to get it on the national register and did not succeed. But I’m glad it has finally gotten on the (state) register.”