The Simon Reid Curtis House
Constructed c. 1896, this graceful frame structure served as the home of Simon Reid and Nannie Cooke Curtis and their two children. The eldest son of Dr. Humphrey Harwood Curtis of Endview, S.R. Curtis was born on June 16, 1863 in North Carolina, where his mother had moved to escape from the “Yankee invaders” during the Peninsula Campaign. He came home to Endview after the Civil War, but received no formal schooling because his father died at the age of 49 in 1881. Simon Curtis then became head of the household and quickly began to expand the family fortune.
Known as a horsetrader, he soon amassed over one-third of Mulberry Island and much of the property around Lee Hall where he built this impressive home. One of his enterprises was Virginia’s first Maxwell Car dealership; he later assembled and sold Model T Fords.
His prosperity was matched by his political position in Warwick County. He served as postmaster, road commissioner and county treasurer, holding the latter office for 49 years. (Coincidentally, his uncle, James Madison Curtis, was the treasurer of Newport News.) The Curtis House became the hub of county political activities as Simon would often hold court in his study. The home also housed a general store and post office.
The U.S. Army’s purchase of Mulberry Island for Camp Eustis in 1918 made Curtis wealthier. During World War I, he rented rooms to Army officers and their wives assigned to the post and to the camp’s construction superintendent. He continued this practice during World War II. Among the prominent guests the “Curtis Hotel” accommodated were General “Blackjack” Pershing Camp and comedian W.C. Fields.
A less advertised fact about Curtis was his devotion to the Confederate cause, exhibited by his largess to local veterans, widows and orphans who were down and out. As the boss of Warwick County, he was a confidant of governors, senators and congressmen; his word influenced elections. He passed political power to his son Douglas. When Simon Curtis died on August 4, 1949, all of Warwick stopped at Lebanon Church to pay their respects to the man who had run the county.
The residence remained in family hands for nearly a century when its antique furnishings were sold at auction. In the 1980s, the house was renovated and opened as The Boxwood Inn, a bed and breakfast establishment, offering lodging, fine dining and entertainments.