Suffolk Nansemond Historical Society volunteer Lynda Kennedy tells Candlelight Tour guests William Ritsch, his daughter Elizabeth Skertic and his brother Robert Ritsch (hidden behind Skertic) about the Cornell Home, one of four buildings in the Bennett’s Creek area open to the public yesterday and today.
Suffolk Nansemond Historical Society volunteer Lynda Kennedy tells Candlelight Tour guests William Ritsch, his daughter Elizabeth Skertic and his brother Robert Ritsch (hidden behind Skertic) about the Cornell Home, one of four buildings in the Bennett’s Creek area open to the public yesterday and today.

Archived Story

Candlelight Tour continues today

Published 10:22pm Saturday, December 7, 2013

Turnout for the Suffolk Nansemond Historical Society’s Candlelight Tour was as brisk as the weather on Saturday.

Volunteer Sue Woodward said the society had been pleased with pre-event ticket sales. Tickets were also available at each of the four homes on the tour, which continues today.

The carbide gas house at the Cornell Home provided light until the home got electricity in 1940.
The carbide gas house at the Cornell Home provided light until the home got electricity in 1940.

Guest Robert Ritsch said he is a fan of “anything that has to do with history, especially Virginia history.” Speaking at the Cornell Home on Bennett’s Pasture Road, he was visiting the homes on the tour with his brother, William Ritsch, and his niece.

“So far, this has been my favorite,” said William Ritsch’s daughter, Elizabeth Skertic.

The tour, the 37th annual fundraiser for the historical society, this year includes four homes in the historic Bennett’s Creek area, where English settlement in what is now Suffolk began.

An extra piece of history is added by the inclusion on the tour of the circa 1870 but lately restored Obici House at 4700 Sleepy Hole Road, once owned by Amedeo Obici, founder of Planters Peanuts, and his wife Louise. The company celebrated its 100th anniversary of having a location in Suffolk this year.

Also on the tour is the Willis Home, also known as Town Point Farm, at 2527 Bridge Road. The home was built in 1895 for Confederate veteran Willis John Lee and his wife Jennie. They were involved in truck farming and had a store and cotton gin. They built a schoolhouse on the property, which will also be open for the tour.

Above is the farm bell at the Cornell Home that called folks to dinner, with its post decorated with a wreath for the holiday season.
Above is the farm bell at the Cornell Home that called folks to dinner, with its post decorated with a wreath for the holiday season.

The Cornell Home, at 5301 Bennetts Pasture Road, is also known as Eagle Point Farm. The original farmhouse was built in 1908, with additions and improvements having been made throughout the years. An original carbide gas light fixture and gas house in the yard are available for viewing.

The Northey Home, at 117 Riverside Drive, the last home on the tour, affords excellent views of the Nansemond River. Built in 1992, it stands not far from the site where archeologists have found evidence of a substantial 17th-century dwelling. There has been speculation it may have been the home of Richard Bennett.

“Between the River and the Creek … Homes in the Historic Bennett’s Creek Area” will take place from 1 to 5 p.m. today. Tickets are $25.

Visit www.suffolkhistory.org for more information.

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