Dominion donates to future museum

Published 10:09 pm Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Picot-Armistead-Pettiford House in Plymouth is on the National Register of Historic Places. Restoration work to return the home to its former glory and put it to a new use — as an African-American history museum — is under way. (Contributed Photo/NC State Archives)

An old home, on its way to restoration, will have new life breathed into in the form of a $5,000 donation from an unlikely source: Dominion Power.
Dominion representative Michael Thompson will present the check to the Washington County Historical Society in a ceremony Friday morning at the Picot-Armistead-Pettiford House in Plymouth.
The circa 1814 home, thought to be one of Plymouth’s earliest, is being restored for future use as an African-American history museum. Currently, Tri-County Construction of Pinetops is replacing the home’s roof, courtesy of a $10,000 award from the Stedman Incentive Grant, which assists nonprofit organizations in the rescue of endangered historically and architecturally significant properties, through Preservation North Carolina.
The Picot-Armistead-Pettiford House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. According to local legend, its builder, French physician Julian Picot, came to Plymouth after he was shipwrecked near Ocracoke Island. The house is rumored to have been a way station on the Underground Railroad, though some historians argue against the possibility as the Armistead family (owners at the time) were themselves slave owners, according to Willie Drye, chairman of the Plymouth Small Town Main Street Committee.
In 1914, the home was sold to Reubin Pettiford, an African-American brick mason, but years later it became a boarding house and hotel during the Jim Crow era. Now, its restoration is slowly coming about through contributions like the one from Dominion Power, as well as through the efforts of local residents pitching in time, energy and materials to do basics, like grounds maintenance, said Drye.
“It’s going to take tens of thousands (to complete the project), but $5,000 will help a lot to get the outside fixed up,” Drye said.
Completion of the new tin roof is expected within the next week. That, in combination with the new coat of paint provided by Dominion’s donation, is giving the 200-year-old home a much-needed makeover and preserving an important part of Plymouth history.
The donation ceremony takes place at 11 a.m. Friday at The Picot-Armistead-Pettiford House, 302 W. Main St.,Plymouth. The public is invited to attend.