William Williams House
15606 Second Street
This house was one of those built on lots sold by the executors of the will of Mahlon Janney, part of the subdivision in Waterford known as “New Town.” James Moore, Jr. purchased the lots in 1815, and a few months later sold them to John Williams, a local merchant of Welsh ancestry, and a member of the Society of Friends (Quakers).
Construction was begun in the fall of that year, and completed in the spring of 1816. John’s son, William, was born in the house soon afterwards. William Williams was one of the town’s leading citizens: a merchant, a Quaker like his parents, and one of the organizers and long-time president of the Mutual Fire Insurance Company, which was founded in Waterford in 1849.
Williams was arrested in this house in 1863 by Confederates who took him at gunpoint—and on foot—to Castle Thunder, in Richmond, to serve as a hostage for the release of a Confederate sympathizer held by the Union. He was released in December of that year, just in time for Christmas.
The house is the town’s most prominent example of a side passage brick house in the Federal Style. The large wrap-around porch was added circa 1926. The little brick building in the yard near the main house was built by John Williams for his use as a warehouse. It also served as a Quaker school following the Civil War and again as a modest private school in the early 1900s; it is now a private dwelling.
The late Augustus Hewlett protected the house and garden in perpetuity through the gift of a preservation easement to the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.
The William Williams House is open through the courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Thompson.
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