Conjurer's Neck

Submitted by FHMaster on Wed, 12/28/2016 - 20:28

The Conjurer’s Field Archeological Site is located on the former plantation of Conjurer’s Neck along the Appomattox River. Archeological excavations at the site have unearthed artifacts representative of the prehistoric Middle and Late Woodland periods.

In 1620, a small group of colonists settled in the spot where the Swift Creek runs into the Appomattox River. The place came to be known as Conjurer’s Neck because a Native American priest or healer, which the English called a "conjurer," is thought to have lived there at one time. The presence of such conjurers was considered protective, as they were believed to ward off evil spirits dwelling in the waters.

The Old Brick (Kennon) House

Richard Kennon purchased the Conjurer's Neck property in 1677 and settled there sometime thereafter. A prosperous merchant of Bermuda Hundred, he also represented Henrico County several times in the House of Burgesses. Kennon had married Elizabeth Worsham in 1675. Their first child, Richard, died at the age of four, and his gravestone is located on the property. 

In 1711, after Richard Kennon's death, his widow deeded Conjurer's Neck to her second son, William. He eventually deeded the property to his son, Richard. Conjurer's Neck passed out of the Kennon family in the late 18th century and was subdivided into eight farms. Long a prominent landmark on the river, the Kennon home was called "Brick House" on maps and navigational charts of the period.

The Brick House was purchased by Robert Henry Batte of Petersburg in 1880. A year before that, a fire that had started in the adjacent kitchen spread to the house, destroying its interior and cracking the north wall. Extinguishing the fire had been difficult because the well was too close to the burning house, and the tide was out in the nearby river. Sometime after the fire, the north and south walls were replaced with new walls that eliminated the recesses at both ends, effectively shortening the house. Batte sold the Brick House in 1885 and once again, it passed through a succession of owners. 

In 1909, Willis Comstock purchased the farm and the Brick House. At the time, there was attached to the north side a two-story wooden addition, which was torn down in 1971. Occupied primarily by the Comstock family until 1988, the Brick House was briefly used as an office for real estate agents selling property in the Conjurer’s Neck subdivision.

In 1990, it was deeded to the Conjurer’s Neck Homeowners' Association, with ownership transferred to the Old Brick House Foundation in 2001. In 2003, both the house and the surrounding property were incorporated into the Conjurer’s Neck Archeological District and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Today, the Old Brick House incorporates many architectural changes made over the years, including 18th century Flemish bond brickwork on the exterior. However, it is thought at its core to be the oldest brick house in the region and among the oldest houses in Virginia.

The Old Brick House is open for tours and is managed by the Old Brick House Foundation. There is no admission fee for interior tours, but they must be arranged by appointment. The house is located at 131 Waterfront Drive, Colonial Heights, Virginia. For more information, please call (757) 404-1549 or visit Old Brick House.

view of the river behind the Kennon House

Colonial Heights
Richard Kennon
Robert Henry Batte
Willis Comstock
131 Waterfront Drive, Colonial Heights, Virginia