There’s a lot of history to be found on Chincoteague Island. 1650 saw the island’s first land grant, with Europeans settling here in the late 1700’s. By 1838, 26 homes dotted the island. Most were simple, rustic log plank homes, not designed to survive the passage of centuries. Yet one did.
Of those original 26 homes built on Chincoteague, only Captain Timothy Hill’s house remains. The house features a now rare example of early long plank construction and was the site of Chincoteague’s first recorded murder. Yet, by the 1980’s, it was abandoned, forgotten, and almost torn down.
Bicycle Shed … or Oldest House on Chincoteague?
According to the story, Captain Timothy Hill shipwrecked on Assateague Island in the 1800’s. Instead of cursing the area, he settled here, building a small and now historic house on Chincoteague. The Hill family lived here until 1954, then moved to new digs, apparently abandoning the old house.
Zoom forward to 2009. The house has serious rot, the roof has caved in, and looks to be on its last legs. Luckily, local resident Louisa Flaningam thought the remnants would make a good bicycle shed. She buys it and has it moved to her property.
It is during this period that Flaningam and her partner in the project, Paul Brzozowski, discover evidence of the building’s age. Not only does it have tight, dovetail jointed corners but also evidence of a wooden chimney. In fact, the building is one of only two still standing in Virginia with such a feature.
They also discover depictions of early sailing ships carved into its exterior walls. These and other details are clear and surprising evidence of the building’s advanced age. Flaningam’s proposed bicycle shed rapidly turned into a historical restoration project!
Restoration of the house to its colonial era condition began in 2010. In 2011, the house was added to both The Virginia Landmarks Register and The National Register of Historic Places.
Flaningam and Brzozowski now operate the Captain Timothy Hill House as a Chincoteague history museum. Tour the house and hear fascinating tales of early Chincoteague and the Hill family from the on-site docent.
The unique wooden chimney was restored in 2017. A brick chimney was constructed beneath this so that the fireplace can be legally used. Descendants of Captain Timothy Hill have donated family artifacts that were once used in this historic house.
The Captain Timothy Hill House
5122 Main Street, Chincoteague VA 23336
Summer hours: Fridays, 1pm to 3pm – Winter hours: By appointment only, 973 831-5961
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