Point of Honor

112 Cabell St Lynchburg

Lynchburg Museum System
Written By Lynchburg Museum System

Point of Honor

Point of Honor was built in 1815 by Dr. George Cabell. It is a well-preserved example of Federal Architecture, and it was built with an emphasis on symmetry. The house was the center of a 750-acre plantation, which stretched from the point of Daniel's Hill (where Blackwater Creek flows into the James River) to roughly where Randolph College stands today, and also included several islands in the James River. The Cabells would live in Point for fifteen years (1815-1830), and their time period is what is currently interpreted at the house. Dr. Cabell was best known as a surgeon, and his most famous patient, and very good friend, was Patrick Henry, who lived some forty miles away at Red Hill in Brookneal. However, he was also a landowner, and primarily grew tobacco here on the property. He built a tobacco warehouse on site, and operated a fleet of batteau boats which he used to send his tobacco crops down river to sell in Richmond. Over its lifetime after the departure of the Cabells, Point of Honor would be owned by five other families. The Lichford family, the last to live in the house, sold the house in 1928 to James R. Gillam, Jr., who then deeded Point to the City of Lynchburg to ensure its preservation. For the next fifty years, while operating as a recreational center for the Daniel's Hill neighborhood, restoration efforts would take place, and the house was finally opened to the public as a museum in 1978.

The foyer was the formal entryway for guests. Since it was the first portion of the interior of the house a guest would see, the idea was to impress them as soon as they walked through the front door. The use of faux painted walls meant to resemble stone blocks, a floor cloth painted to resemble marble, and architectural woodworking on the doorways gives the foyer a resemblance to a piazza.

One piece in the foyer is the tall case clock manufactured by Williams and Victor of Lynchburg, Virginia. This clock would have been a highly desirable piece given its size, a running movement of 8 days, its second hands, and the rotating pictures located above the globes on its face. Case clocks served as statement pieces in front entryways to show guests the owner's wealth and appreciation of fine craftsmanship.

A whale oil lamp like this one would have provided light to the foyer after being filled in the evening. It also would have helped visitors find the house late at night by shining through the windows. Once the oil was placed inside, a floating wick sat on top.

The parlor was the main reception room for visitors once they were inside. Since this was the room where guests would spend most of their time, this is where emphasis on making exceptional impressions was heaviest. Typically, furniture would be arranged around the perimeter of the room in a symmetrical fashion, with pieces typically on casters placed in the center so they could be easily moved for activities, such as card playing, tea, or even dancing. The wallpaper in this room is a reproduction of a wallpaper from the time period called "The Monuments of Paris."The original paper was published by the French artist Joseph Defour in 1814, and it depicts various Parisian monuments in a panoramic view along the River Seine. It is typical of the time period, given France's support of the United States back during the Revolutionary War, and was another symbol of wealth in a Federal style home. Dr. Cabell's brother, Dr. John J. Cabell who also lived in Lynchburg, had a similar wallpaper in his home called "Le Parc Francais."

This piano forte is the only piece in Point of Honor with a direct connection to the Cabell family. It belonged to Dr. John J. Cabell, Jr. and was donated by one of his descendants. This piano was made the Clementi & Company in London anywhere between 1810 to 1825. Piano fortes like this one indicated to visitors not only the wealth of the family, but also of the genteel education given to its young daughters. In fact, Marion Cabell (the youngest surviving daughter) would become known in her life as the "musical Mrs. Cabell," thanks to the family's extraordinary interest in music.

The dining room was used for formal meals the Cabells held for their visitors. The usual day consisted of breakfast at 8 a.m. or 9 a.m., a two-course dinner (or the main meal) between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., and finally an evening supper. Typically, the food would be laid out all at once--there was a chance it may quickly cool since it had to brought in from the kitchen outside. A crumb cloth was often laid underneath the table to protect any carpet in the dining room.

The sideboard was considered the most important piece in any dining room. Typically, they were used to display silver and glassware, but could also be used as storage space for utensils, flatware, and even an emergency chamber pot. This sideboard was made by Thomas Crandall, a cabinetmaker who lived in Lynchburg from 1813-1817, and is notable as an example of his Gothic furniture, which would become popular in the United States in the 1830s.

Symmetry was one of the most important aspects in the dining room. The table was set so that if someone were to cut it in half, every single piece should be mirrored on the other side. The porcelain set in the dining room is French from the 1850s, with each piece having individual hand-painted flowers on them. The silverware seen were most likely made in Boston in 1820.

The best bedchamber was Dr. and Mrs. Cabell's bedroom. Since it was their private space, it stood in competition with the parlor for having the nicest furnishings in the house. It was not just a bedroom, however, it also served as the primary space for family entertainment and education. When needed, the room could even operate as a sick room, given its natural lighting and ventilation. The bedchamber is notable for having two distinct doors in the corner. One of these leads outside to the kitchen so the family could have meals in the room when needed; the other opens to a staircase leading up to the children's room and the house slave quarters. It allowed for communication between the private floors of the house, without disturbing the public space.

It is also unique for there to be a closet underneath the back staircase in this room. Closets were typically used for household item storage, and not for clothing. During this period in American history, a household could be taxed on the number of closets inside, but there is no evidence of such a tax existing in Campbell County during the Cabell's time.

Visiting was a common practice in the early 19th century, therefore the Cabells needed to provide accommodations for guests. They would expect visitors to stay for several days or even weeks, and could be used by multiple guests if necessary. Situated above the parlor, the guest bedchamber would offer the best view of the surrounding landscape. Through the front windows, guests could look out across the river into Amherst County, watch John Lynch's ferry operate on the river, and view Lynchburg through the trees. The back windows offered views across the rest of Dr. Cabell's property on Daniel's Hill.

The man in the portrait here is Judge William Daniel, Sr. He served as the judge for the Campbell and Cumberland Circuits. He inherited Point of Honor following the death of his daughter Eliza Daniel Cabell and her husband William Lewis Cabell, the youngest of the Cabell sons. This began the Daniel family period of the home, which lasted from 1830 to 1848. The name for Daniel's Hill comes from the family's time on the land.

Daybeds, like the one shown here, were often placed at the foot of a bed or along a wall. Since making a bed that had straw mattresses and featherbeds was a difficult task, a person would often take a daytime nap on a daybed. This daybed is was made in either the Valley of Virginia or Baltimore circa 1825.

The lumber room is one of two rooms situated above the dining room separated by a light frame wall. This room was most likely used as storage space for furniture pieces rotated throughout the house seasonally. In the corner sits a shallow fireplace, which would have held an iron basket suspended on by two hooks. The fireplace is connected to the central chimney by way of a diagonal flew behind the wall, which explains missing window on the back wall which should mirror the window in the dining room below. However, the Cabells added ghost windows in the brick on the exterior walls of this room and the adjacent room, so the upper exterior would match the corresponding walls.

Band boxes were lightweight, utilitarian containers made either of wood or cardboard. They were originally intended to hold gentlemen's linen neckbands and lace collars, but by the nineteenth century they had grown in size and might contain any household item. Typically they were covered with wallpaper and lined with newsprint, which is true of this band box. The wallpaper covering this piece served as the inspiration for the wallpaper on display in the best bedchamber downstairs, and the inside of this box is line with pages from the December 13, 1830 edition of the" Lynchburg Virginian."

Hallways were not solely used as passageways during the 19th century. They most often also functioned as extra storage space, often containing such as rugs, travel trunks, and out-of-season furniture or straw matting. The upper hallway here is also unique because it contains in the corner next to the children's bedchamber the only non-original woodwork in the house. In the 1880s, this section of the hallway was remodeled into a bathroom. The flooring seen underneath the bed mat was restored during the house's restoration.

The children's bedchamber facilitated the division in the house between private and public space. It was easily accessible by way of the back staircase, which would have allowed the children free movement between their room and their parents'. All of the Cabell children still living at home during this period would have shared this room, which would have been four girls and one boy. The other three were fully grown and married by this time.

The piece shown here was called a "hat" tub, since if a person flipped it over it resembles a hat worn on the head. Given its smaller size, it most likely would have functioned as a child's tub. Bathing was becoming a more common practice in the 19th century. By 1830, some sources in the United States advocated for daily bathing. Typically, a person would be allowed fifteen minutes of privacy to bathe. A floorcloth, like the one shown here, would be placed beneath the bath to catch the water. However, during this time it was common for bath water to be shared, especially among young children, hence the origin of the phrase "Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater." This tub is dated at 1830 and is made of tinned sheet iron.

Here is shown the back hallway leading upstairs from the best bedchamber. The stairs are much steeper and more narrow than the main staircase to further capitalize on space. Also shown here is a second closet original to the house. This was used as bed linen storage, and also contains the location of the original attic access point for the home.

This room is the second of the two rooms split above the dining room. It matches the other in layout, with a corner fireplace and side-wall window, to preserve the symmetry in the house. It is currently interpreted as the house-slave quarters. Given the lack of documents from the Cabell's time in Point of Honor, one unfortunate consequence is that not much is known about the enslaved people who lived here. However, inferences can be made based on how slavery was practiced in the Lynchburg area. For example, in the early 19th century most enslaved people in Lynchburg often worked in industrial settings, like the tobacco warehouses. Since Dr. Cabell owned a warehouse that functioned as a tobacco inspection service, some of his enslaved workers could have worked in it. They also may have handled his fleet of batteau boats, planted and harvested crops from the fields, and cooked in the kitchen. It is thought that up to four or five people could have shared this room. One of those could have been the nanny, which is why this room is also sometimes called the nanny's room, given the proximity to the children's room. The rope bed in this room is used for educational purposes, the enslaved people living in this would have slept on bed mats like one shown in the corner. Research is ongoing at Point of Honor to uncover more about the identities of the enslaved people who lived here and about their daily lives, so that their stories and voices may be preserved and shared.

The kitchen at Point of Honor was located in a dependency off the west side of the house. Given kitchen's high fire risk, they were often located far away enough from the house to not serve as a threat. However, the kitchen had to be close enough so meals could easily be carried to the dining room and best bedchambers. It was a large kitchen for its day, consisting of two rooms on either side of the central fireplace, and sleeping space upstairs. It was made of brick to match the house, and would have been very roughly finished on the inside. The walls were often whitewashed, and the floor would have been backed with dirt or brick. The cook and her family (who were enslaved) may have lived in the kitchen here, and used to space upstairs as their private quarters.

All the cooking took place in either the large open fireplace, and the built-in brick oven. It was designed as a walk-in fireplace so the cook could work with several pots at the same time. A swinging crane spanning the interior of the fireplace helped the cook move and check suspended pots without needing to step closer to the fire. The life of a cook was very strenuous and risky. They would have to constantly bend over, lift heavy and cumbersome pots, and be in close proximity to the fire and fumes. Utensils in the kitchen would have been made of iron, brass, copper, or tin, and since the Cabells were a wealthy family they could afford to have a wide variety of kitchen accessories.

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