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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Suffolk, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Riddick’s Folly

Avant-Garde Greek Revival Masterpiece

 
 
Riddick’s Folly CWT Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Bernard Fisher, April 18, 2009
1. Riddick’s Folly CWT Marker
Inscription. The restored Greek Revival house before you is Riddick’s Folly. It was constructed in 1837 by Mills Riddick, a grandson of local Revolutionary War hero Willis Riddick. Mill’s contemporaries soon ridiculed the house and labeled the building “Riddick’s Folly” due to its enormous size – 21 rooms and 16 fireplaces – and its avant garde Greek Revival architecture. The structure’s distinctive design features Flemish gables, five eyebrow windows just below the eaves and interior carved cypress woodwork.

Riddick’s Folly played an important role in Suffolk’s Civil War experience. At the outbreak of the war, Mill’s son Nathaniel and wife Missouri resided in the home with their six children. However, when the Union forces occupied Suffolk in 1862, the family was forced to evacuate. Riddick’s Folly became the headquarters of Maj. Gen. John James Peck, commander of the Union division controlling the Suffolk area. Peck used the house intermittently from September 8, 1862, to August 1, 1863, after which he was appointed commander of the Union district of North Carolina.

This large Greek Revival structure provided ample space for Peck and his entire staff. The house was simultaneously used as a hospital for sick and wounded Union soldiers. Many of the penciled messages and autographs written on the walls
Riddick’s Folly served as Union Headquarters for Gen JJ Peck & staff. Photo, Click for full size
By Bernard Fisher, April 18, 2009
2. Riddick’s Folly served as Union Headquarters for Gen JJ Peck & staff.
by those soldiers have been carefully preserved and are still legible today.

The family eventually returned to Riddick’s Folly once the Confederate threat to Suffolk ended and the Union troops evacuated the town (November 1865). They found that the house had been completely looted - only a single chair remained.
 
Erected by Virginia Civil War Trails.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Virginia Civil War Trails marker series.
 
Location. 36° 44.226′ N, 76° 34.939′ W. Marker is in Suffolk, Virginia. Marker is on North Main Street near East Constance Road, on the right when traveling north. Click for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 510 North Main Street, Suffolk VA 23434, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. First Suffolk Church (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Site of the First Church (about 600 feet away); Early History of Suffolk (about 700 feet away); Siege of Suffolk (approx. ¼ mile away); a different marker also named Siege of Suffolk (approx. 0.9 miles away); Nansemond Collegiate Institute
Gen. J.J. Peck & staff <i>Library of Congress [LC-B813- 1907 A]</i> Photo, Click for full size
circa 1862
3. Gen. J.J. Peck & staff Library of Congress [LC-B813- 1907 A]
(approx. 1.2 miles away); East Suffolk School Complex (approx. 1.3 miles away); a different marker also named Siege of Suffolk (approx. 1.5 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Suffolk.
 
More about this marker. On the upper left is a photograph of “Maj. Gen. John James Peck." Courtesy of the Library of Congress. On the right is a color sketch of “Riddick’s Folly, 1863”
 
Also see . . .  Riddick’s Folly, Inc. (Submitted on April 20, 2009, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.)
 
Categories. Notable BuildingsWar, US Civil
 
View of Nansemond River (facing west) Photo, Click for full size
By Bernard Fisher
4. View of Nansemond River (facing west)
Nansemond River trenches near Battery Onondaga site (Union) Photo, Click for full size
By Bernard Fisher, April 18, 2009
5. Nansemond River trenches near Battery Onondaga site (Union)
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,360 times since then and 92 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on , by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.   3, 4, 5. submitted on , by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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