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Newport News, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

The Simon Reid Curtis House

 
 
The Simon Reid Curtis House Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, July 31, 2010
1. The Simon Reid Curtis House Marker
Inscription. Constructed c. 1896, this graceful frame structure served as the home of Simon Reid and Nannie Cooke Curtis and their two children. The eldest son of Dr. Humphrey Harwood Curtis of Endview, S.R. Curtis was born in North Carolina on June 16, 1863, where his mother had moved to escape from the “Yankee invaders” during the Peninsula Campaign. He came home to Endview after the Civil War, but received no formal schooling because his father died at the age of 49 in 1881. Simon Curtis then became head of the household and quickly began to expand the family fortune.

Known as a horsetrader, he soon amassed over one-third of Mulberry Island and much of the property around Lee Hall where he built this impressive home. One of his enterprises was Virginiaís first Maxwell Car dealership; he later assembled and sold Model T Fords.

His prosperity was matched by his political position in Warwick County. He served as postmaster, road commissioner and county treasurer, holding the latter office for 49 years. (Coincidentally, his uncle, James Madison Curtis, was the treasurer of Newport News.) The Curtis House became the hub of county political activities as Simon would often hold Court in his study. The home also housed a general store and post office.

The U.S. Armyís purchase of Mulberry Island for Camp Eustis
The Boxwood Inn at Lee Hall Village image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, July 31, 2010
2. The Boxwood Inn at Lee Hall Village
in 1918 made Curtis wealthier. During World War I, he rented rooms to Army officers and their wives assigned to the post and to the campís construction superintendent. He continued this practice during World War II. Among the prominent guests the “Curtis Hotel” accommodated were General “Blackjack” Pershing Camp and comedian W.C. Fields.

A less advertised fact about Curtis was his devotion to the Confederate cause, exhibited by his largess to local veterans, widows and orphans who were down and out. As the boss of Warwick County, he was a confidant of governors, senators and congressmen; his word influenced elections. He passed political power to his son Douglas. When Simon Curtis died on August 4, 1949, all of Warwick stopped at Lebanon Church to pay their respects to the man who had run the county.

The residence remained in family hands for nearly a century when its antique furnishings were sold at auction. In the 1980s, the house was renovated and opened as The Boxwood Inn, a bed and breakfast establishment, offering lodging, fine dining, entertainments and a place to celebrate special events.
 
Location. 37° 11.637′ N, 76° 34.33′ W. Marker is in Newport News, Virginia. Marker is on Elmhurst Street 0.1 miles south of Yorktown Road (Virginia Route 238), on the left when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 10 Elmhurst Street, Newport News VA 23603, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Lee Hall (a few steps from this marker); Lee Hall Depot (a few steps from this marker); Lee Hall Village (a few steps from this marker); C&O "Peninsula Extension" (a few steps from this marker); An Earthwork in Front (approx. 0.4 miles away); Largest and Most Valuable Estate in the County (approx. 0.4 miles away); A Large Brick Kitchen (approx. 0.4 miles away); Homestead by the Main Road (approx. 0.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Newport News.
 
More about this marker. On the left is a photo with the caption, "At Left: The S.R. Curtis house." Tidewater Genealogical Society.

On the right are two portraits with the captions."At Right: Simon Reid Curtis and Nannie Cooke Curtis, c. 1900." Courtesy of James Smith.
 
Also see . . .
1. The Boxwood Inn. (Submitted on August 4, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.)
2. The Simon Reid Curtis House (pdf file). National Register of Historic Places (Submitted on August 4, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.) 

3. Lee Hall Depot. (Submitted on August 4, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.)
 
Categories. PoliticsWar, US CivilWar, World IWar, World II
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on August 4, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page has been viewed 939 times since then and 48 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on August 4, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.
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