Folly Ball planned

Published 10:49 pm Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Folly Ball, ordinarily held in March, has a new date this year, but it will once again provide the good entertainment folks have come to expect.

The event raises money for the daily operating expenses of Riddick’s Folly House Museum. This year’s installment also will raise money for the restoration of the law office on the property.

“We are very lucky to have this in Suffolk,” board member Jane Smith said. “We just need the support of the community to keep it open.”

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The event will be held on May 2 at Cedar Point Country Club. Guests will enjoy heavy hors d’oeuvres, cocktails and music by the Coolin’ Out Band.

Raffle items will include jewelry, a dinner at Harper’s Table and other items.

“The food at Cedar Point is really good, and you can look out and see the water,” Smith said. “It’s proved to be such a good venue.”

This year’s installment of the Folly Ball, the 16th, is the third time the event has been to Cedar Point. Usually given the theme of an exotic location, this year’s event will be themed the “Bali Folly Ball.”

Tickets are $60, and it is open to the public, although invitations are being sent to previous guests. Cocktail hour is from 7 to 8 p.m., with dancing from 8 to 11 p.m.

“It is fun, and it is supporting our house museum,” said Smith, encouraging people to come.

For tickets, call Riddick’s Folly at 934-0822.

The Greek Revival-style building at 524 N. Main St. began its life in the 1830s as the home of Mills Riddick, a wealthy lumber dealer. A large fire had destroyed the first building on the site, as well as many others, and Riddick used his insurance settlement to pay for the construction of his new home. Locals dubbed it a “folly” because of its massive size and unusual architecture.

He and his wife, Mary Taylor Riddick, had 10 children who lived to adulthood. When he died in 1844, she moved into a smaller home nearby. The home fell to her children in equal shares, but Nathaniel Riddick purchased his siblings’ shares and moved in with his wife, Missouri. He was a lawyer and used the home for his practice until he built a separate office on the property.

Nathaniel Riddick would go on to serve in the Virginia House of Delegates and as a judge. The Union Army used the house as a headquarters during its occupation of Suffolk during the Civil War, and soldiers’ graffiti still is visible in the home’s upper rooms. Nathaniel Riddick died in 1882.

The home now serves as a memorial to the Riddicks, the Civil War and Suffolk life in the 1800s. It features several permanent and rotating exhibits.

The law office on the property originally was built as a doctor’s office in the 1830s and was moved to Riddick’s Folly in 2004. Riddick’s original law office was built in 1851 and torn down in 1883.