Riddick’s Folly adds new artifact to museum collection

Published 6:19 pm Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Riddick’s Folly House Museum is celebrating a new addition to its historical collection. Riddick’s Folly Director and Curator Edward L. King has added a new replica cannon outside the museum’s doors. Since its November arrival, it has been noted as an attraction for Suffolk residents.

Celebrating with King was Riddick’s Folly Board President Fred D. Taylor and Riddick’s Folly Former President Kermit Hobbs, who got together to talk about the new addition. Hobbs gave details on the cannon and its history: being a replica of one of two that were used on April 19, 1863.

“ … the area that we most recently knew as Nansemond River Golf Club, there was a battle there, the union forces came in and attacked off a gunboat and then they came behind confederate forces that were firing over the fort layer over the river in the gunboats,” Hobbs said. “Those two cannons they used were mountain howitzers and the one down here is a mountain howitzer similar or maybe even identical to the ones that they used.”

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Hobbs says that the cannon was originally purchased by Nansemond River Golf Club Owner Jim Adams as it was being prepared and opened.

“It was set out there in front of the clubhouse at that time and stayed there until the golf club was closed,” Hobbs said. 

Detailing the process of adding the cannon to Riddick’s Folly, Taylor reflected on how it “needed a lot of TLC” before going prime-time at the museum.

“It was in disrepair, deteriorating wood in the structure. And we were very blessed one of the members of our Board of Directors, Wayne Mansfield, who’s President at Nansemond Lawn and Garden, was willing to step up and utilizing his background in construction and having a group of employees willing to assist spent a lot of time in making sure not only did we restore it, but we did it in a historically respectful and accurate manner, and in a manner that it would be preserved for many years to come,” Taylor said. “So it took a couple years, we’ve gone through COVID and supply issues to get all the parts we need and get everything taken care of, but we’re so excited to have it out there now.”

Taylor notes that the cannon has been a “great attraction,” with residents “snapping photos” as well. He also believes it helps continue their goal of telling local stories.

“I like to tell people when you come in this door, it’s not simply to learn about the Riddick’s story, because the Riddick story in turn tells the story of Suffolk and Nansemond County as a whole, going back to the colonial period all the way up to modern times. And so in this sense, we have the ability to tell the history of Suffolk during the Civil War, and specifically as it relates sort of the tie-in with the battle that occurred at Hill point, we’re able to talk about a specific period of time during the Siege of Suffolk in the spring of 1863 which is something that is often forgotten about because it was a sort of a smaller engagement that occurred,” Taylor said. “We’re all used to the big battles and leaders and things like that. Suffolk played a unique role during the Civil War. 10s of 1000s of troops from both sides were here at various times during the war. So that I think the cannon sort of starts that conversation, and to me leads to much more in us all learning about our history.”

For more information, go to riddicksfolly.org.