It would be quite a feat of the imagination to remove the verandahs, the Victorian Gothic decorative touches, even the little bedrooms, and return the house in one’s mind’s eye to the steep-roofed home that John Neville knew, four rooms and a central passage with a detached log kitchen. It was not a “Southern “mansion in either size or form, not the home of a Virginia gentleman as popularly envisioned. Yet that is, in fact, what it was. This was the home of a general, a former commandant of Fort Pitt, a man of wealth and education. John and Winifred Oldham Neville’s home was deemed “a temple of hospitality.” Its window panes still bear the signatures of guests and relatives, scratched into them with the point of a diamond. The parlor was the scene of at least two weddings, that of Major Abraham Kirkpatrick to Mary Ann Oldham (John Neville’s sister-in-law), and their daughter Eliza’s marriage to Christopher Cowan.

The interiors reveal this way of life: the little plantation house is also a country seat from not long after the earliest settlement of Western Pennsylvania. The central passage, dining room, kitchen, parlor, and two bedrooms off the parlor have been restored, in part with complete accuracy, in part in a manner consistent with the place and period. Both informed hard work and good luck have contributed to the restoration of the house and our knowledge of its history.

The parlor has a modern Brussels carpet, woven in England to a design of the late eighteenth century, while the furniture is of the period but not of the house. The wallpaper reproduces one actually used in the parlor; the replica was out of print, but the few last rolls were discovered by chance.

In the dining room the carpet and furnishings are once again not original but in keeping, while the walls are painted in a bright verdigris green popular in the late eighteenth century.

The bedrooms are papered in a replica of a pattern of c. 1815 that was actually discovered in the room under nine upper layers. Waterhouse Wallhangings, which reproduced the paper, is now selling it as the Woodville pattern.

Only the wooden trim in the chamber/nursery is a modern restoration; the rest of the house is original. Restoration of the kitchen, the original log structure of “Woodville,” was completed in 1993. The fireplace wall is of bare log and the wainscoting elsewhere is dark red brown.

Restoration at “Woodville” has taken years and is continuing, but the zeal and care of restorers and the leadership of devoted volunteers are being rewarded.

The Home of John and Presley Neville, circa 1780

Woodville, the John and Presley Neville house, is Southwestern Pennsylvania’s principal link to the late 18th century, interpreting the time period of 1780-1820 and documenting the lives of the three families that resided there, the Nevilles (1775-1815), the Cowans (1815-1835), and the Wrenshalls (1835-1975).

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Wayne's Legion

Please visit the website for Wayne's Legion, a group of dedicated individuals based at Woodville Plantation who recreate the first Army of the United States from 1792-1796.