Woodville Plantation (Neville House) was built in 1785, and has a long been an important historic landmark. After 200 years of residential occupancy by just three families, the house opened to the public in the 1970s, was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1983, and has been lovingly restored to its original condition. Initially the house of John Neville, a Fort Pitt commander and tax collector during the Whiskey Rebellion, our heritage is deeply rooted in Western Pennsylvania and the city of Pittsburgh. As one of the oldest residences in the city, and an excellent example of the developments in local architecture, and daily life in the late 1700s and early 1800s, Woodville has something for every enthusiast.
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