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The History of Chowan Beach
by George Farrell and Rawl Gelinas
Preface  Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4  Part 5
Part 6  Part 7  Part 8  Part 9  Part 10

Part Seven

Inglis Fletcher, while not a native North Carolinian, had family ties in the area and had visited Edenton several times, gathering background information for her well-known historical novels. In fact she and her husband, John, had lived for some period of time, probably the summer of 1941, in the Fishery, a guesthouse on the grounds of Greenfield, near Edenton. Starting in 1940, they had been looking for a place in or near Edenton to make their home. While traveling in California in 1944, they heard that Bandon was on the market. On August 18th, they bought the plantation house and 63.5 acres of land, sight unseen. The deed states that the price was $10 and "other valuable considerations." According to one neighbor the ten dollars alone was more than it was worth at the time!

It is entirely possible that they would never have bought it if they had seen it: the place was in such deplorable condition. Some years later she recalled her first sight of the dilapidated building and grounds. The house with its faded, peeling paint, rotted steps and unsupported porch railings swinging in the winds from the river must indeed have been a disheartening sight. Even in the midst of such chaos she did note the chandelier in the drawing room, the heart pine floors, the graceful arched doorways and the reeded mantles. She was struck, too, by the 'hidden stairway' to the second floor. John Martin Forehand's modern improvements, now fifty years old, had fallen into disrepair and the pump had been stolen from the pump house. The Fletchers had to use the two 'little houses' out back until repairs could be made. While the Forehands had considered their attached kitchen convenient, the Fletchers referred to it as "a long rattletrap building connected with the back gallery by a covered bridge." They installed an indoor kitchen and had the 'covered bridge' removed because it obscured the view of the Chowan River.

Jack, as he was called, and Inglis moved into Bandon just before Christmas of 1944. Although it took quite some time to put Bandon back into livable condition, the Fletchers occupied it during the reconstruction, living in the finished parts as the restoration went on in the rest of the house. Sources do not completely agree on whether or not the Fletchers had Bandon restored to be historically accurate as to architecture but do agree that the first floor was furnished with antiques and that the carved mantels, corniced ceilings and arched entranceways on the ground floor were original. Mrs. Fletcher seems to have been particularly fond of the "spirit doors." These are doors designed with overlaid crosses in them, protection against the entrance of witches!

Although they did not use the outdoor kitchen, it was renovated and furnished as a display of older times. Some of the other 'dependencies' were also put in order, presumable by Jack, who seems to have done quite a lot of the restoration work on the house. He turned the icehouse into a studio for his sister, Anne, who came to visit from Richmond. Parson Earl's schoolhouse was "charmingly restored" and served, at least part of the time, as a writing room for Inglis Fletcher while she continued her 'Carolina' series.

Most of the information for this chapter was obtained from "Inglis Fletcher of Bandon Plantation" by Richard Walser; The UNC Library, 1952; "Mrs. Fletcher's Eden" by Roy Thompson; The Chowan Herald, 1975 and "Bandon a Brief History of a Chowan County Plantation by Jerry L. Cross, 1986.

On To Part Eight

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