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Press Releases

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Nabb Research Center Fund-Raiser at Grapeland May 3

SALISBURY, MD---The Board of Directors at the Edward H. Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture at Salisbury University and Mrs. K. Ray Johnson host a benefit garden party at the historic Grapeland estate in Exmore, VA, 4:30-7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 3.

Johnson and her late husband have owned the property as a private residence since the mid-1990s. She is opening the doors of her historic home to benefit the Nabb Research Center’s mission as a non-profit organization to collect and preserve the history and culture of the Delmarva Peninsula. The center is used by scholars, historians and genealogists researching the region of the Eastern Shore of Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.

This 1825 Virginia Historic Landmark belongs to an important group of refined Federal period houses. Federal-style architecture rose to prominence during the later quarter of the 18th century and took cues from the neoclassical styles that were becoming common during the years of the early Republic.
According to the National Historic Buildings Registry, Grapeland includes a “handsome dwelling house and two early outbuildings.” The two-story, three-bay, gable-roofed house is built of brick laid in exceptionally well-crafted Flemish bond.

Shortly after purchasing 350 acres from the White family in 1825, Edward W. Addison built the house on commanding position “above terraced gardens leading down to Occohannock Creek, one of the many navigable tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay.”

Grapeland remained in possession of the Addison family until 1875 when the home tract was purchased by Elizabeth A. Turner, who gave it to Mary E. Turner, wife of John T. Wilkins. The Wilkins family then sold it to Elijah J. White of St. Louis five years later, who then sold it to a fellow resident of St. Louis, George Hotlzgrewe.

It was sold again in 1894 to the Doughty family, which held the property until recent years when the house and property were abandoned and fell prey to vandals. In the 1960s the new owner, Ann Pardee, began a restoration of the property which was designated a Virginia historic landmark. The property was purchased in 1995 by Mrs. Johnson and her late husband, both of whom continued the preservation efforts of the previous owners.

Since its purchase in the 1960s, the house has undergone many restorations. The stately interiors are adorned with elegant woodwork and elaborate displays of marble and woodgraining, ranked among the state’s best examples of the art. The interiors spaces have been brought to life with an impressive array of antiques.

Mr. and Mrs. Johnson dedicated many years to searching out period pieces which include paintings unique to the period, as well as a fine array of décor in silver, porcelain and faience. Other period finds include three Eastern Shore raised-panel cupboards, a 1740 Delaware lowboy and an American tea table with drake feet.

The event features a garden party buffet with open bar. Held in connection with Kentucky Derby Day, Thornton’s mint juleps will be served on the lawn. Tickets are $75 per person.

A complimentary bus service is provided from Berlin, Salisbury, Princess Anne and Pocomoke City. Reservations are requested by Friday, April 18.

For more information, call the Nabb Research Center at 410-543-6312 or visit the center’s Web site at

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