Historic property in new family’s hands after 350 years

by Sherry Hamilton - Posted on Jan 09, 2013 - 01:31 PM

Photo: Milford, an historic property in Mathews County that has been in the same family for 350 years, changed hands recently following an auction, with Tom and Robin Field of Gloucester, above, purchasing the house. Photo by Sherry Hamilton

Milford, an historic property in Mathews County that has been in the same family for 350 years, changed hands recently following an auction, with Tom and Robin Field of Gloucester, above, purchasing the house. Photo by Sherry Hamilton

Photo: Milford’s large west parlor was cited by the National Register of Historic Places as the most elaborately decorated room in the house. The nomination form particularly notes the fully paneled fireplace wall, with fluted Roman Doric pilasters flanking the fireplace and a 19th century Greek Revival mantel. In a chair left by the Billups family sits a pair of boots that belonged to John Franklin Billups, great-grandfather of the last direct descendant who occupied the house, James Otis Billups Sr. Photo by Sherry Hamilton

Milford’s large west parlor was cited by the National Register of Historic Places as the most elaborately decorated room in the house. The nomination form particularly notes the fully paneled fireplace wall, with fluted Roman Doric pilasters flanking the fireplace and a 19th century Greek Revival mantel. In a chair left by the Billups family sits a pair of boots that belonged to John Franklin Billups, great-grandfather of the last direct descendant who occupied the house, James Otis Billups Sr. Photo by Sherry Hamilton

A Mathews property that had been in the same family since 1653 has changed hands, and the new owners have begun the process of renovating it so they can move in.

Milford, the Billups house in Moon, was built by either Capt. John Billups or his son, Lt. John Billups, between 1774 and 1783 on land that had been granted to their ancestor, George Billups, over a hundred years earlier. It was occupied by a direct Billups descendant for at least 10 generations, most recently by the late James Otis Billups Sr. and Marie Billups of Mathews, before being sold at a recent auction for $385,000 to Tom and Robin Field of Gloucester. The Fields plan to make Milford their residence.

James Otis Billups Jr. of San Diego, Calif., said he and his sister, Elizabeth Jean Billups of Sand Point, Idaho, had decided to sell the property because they have no heirs and "somebody had to have that property."

"The legacy had to be broken," said Billups. "We have no relatives anymore."

Billups said the house had been empty for four years, since their 97-year-old mother moved into a nursing home.

"I’m happy the Fields are going to do something with the property besides sit on it," he said. "They are thorough, compassionate and professional people … I’m elated that the property moved to somebody who cares about its historical value … I’m really glad because my mom and dad loved that property."

The story-and-a-half, three-bay structure with a Flemish-bond brick basement is listed in both the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places. It is located east of Mathews Court House on Route 643.