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Two historic homes on The Avenues

Story by Edward Kromer

The houses on The Avenues in Farmville are rich with history.

A 1918 Sanborn Insurance Company map shows a number of dwellings built in the 200-400 blocks of First and Second avenues.

The home at 201 First Ave. was the McIntosh house. It was owned by Frank Wesley McIntosh, a pharmacist who was a partner in the drug company McIntosh & Canada. In 1928, he bought the Cunningham Drug Store at 238 Main St. and remodeled it.

TOXICO, available for purchase at McIntosh’s drug store, was a very dilute solution from a homeopathic drug company in Pennsylvania that you would take during the summer to prevent or lessen the severity of poison ivy and poison oak.

All the surveyors and linemen for the telephone and electric companies would come in and buy this each spring through the fall. It was very much like taking allergy shots that give you a small dose of the thing to which you are allergic.

The story goes that McIntosh lost everything during the Great Depression. The house was later owned by the Spencer sisters, who moved to North Carolina when they became elderly and passed away there, leaving the house empty for 10 years.

What makes the ownership of this house interesting is that the house was purchased by another pharmacist, Robert M. Mason and his wife, the former Daphne Shepard.

Another interesting house was at 313 First Ave. — the McCraw-Hillsman house. This home was occupied by two families.


William J. Hillsman was a merchant and owned a dry goods store. His father-in-law, James P. McCraw, mother-in-law Bettie and sister-in-law Hallie A. McCraw also lived in this house.

Hallie A. McCraw was a grade school math teacher born in 1893 and was still teaching seventh grade in 1960. She lived to be 100 years old.

The interesting thing is that Mr. Hillsman had a daughter that he named Hallie who also worked in education.

This house was located directly across from the old Farmville High School, which was purchased by Longwood and torn down and is used as a sports field. Hallie Hillsman married James Fleetwood, and they lived in the same house in which she was born.

Hallie H.

James Fleetwood was the commissioner of revenue for Prince Edward County. Hallie Fleetwood taught math at the Farmville High School and later Prince Edward Academy. She then became a guidance counselor.

This home was later owned by Nelson Wilson with Terri Atkins Wilson. Nelson operated the Buffalo Shook sawmill company, and Terri is a local lawyer.

The home is currently The Inn on the Avenues — a bed & breakfast owned and operated by Janie Irons and her mother Ann Irons. It has an assortment of nicely decorated rooms with nice views of the historic avenues.

This article has been re-printed from Farmville the Magazine July 2017.