EAST BEND — The historic Richmond Hill Law School will open for the season next month.
Nestled in the northeastern part of Yadkin County, the Richmond Hill Law School is a stately brick home where former North Carolina Chief Justice Richmond Mumford Pearson resided and operated a law school in the mid-1800s. Pearson moved to the area around 1848 and resided at the home, known as Richmond Hill, for about 30 years. Though the law school building which was on the property is no longer there, the home still stands and visitors can tour the historic location.
The home, located at 4650 Law School Road in East Bend, is open for tours from 2 to 4:30 p.m. on the third Saturday of each month, April through October. Tour guides in period costumes offer historical insights to visitors about Pearson, his many accomplishments, the law school and other fascinating recollections on the time period.
The home changed hands many times since Pearson’s day and then fell into disrepair. It was purchased by the NC Society for the Preservation of Antiquities in the 1960s. In 1970, a commission formed for the purpose of restoring the home and preserving the legacy of Judge Pearson.
Through the efforts of the late Jimmy R. Hutchens and the late Joe C. Matthews, the home is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Barbara Norman, a long-time volunteer at Richmond Hill, said the commission is still very active in protecting the house and continuing to showcase it to the public.
A bed is still in the residence that was part of the home when Pearson resided there. There are also several pieces of period furniture which have been donated and Norman said they always welcomed any additional donations of antiques or furniture from the time period to display in the home.
In addition to the tour times, there are special events that occur on the property throughout the year. There also are walking trials on the property and a picnic shelter which may be reserved for special events.
Norman also said one of the dreams of the commission is to rebuild the exterior kitchen on the property.
The home is one of the last remaining vestiges of the Pearson family, Norman said. There were once four Richmond Hill house sites including the home in Cooleemee where Pearson was born and a second home in Mocksville which was demolished to make room for a bank. The original Richmond Hill home in East Bend was a large split level log house, Norman shared with his first wife Margaret McClung Williams. Pearson remarried several years after his first wife’s death and the second Mrs. Pearson, Mary McDowell Bynum, requested a two-story brick house, which is the Richmond Hill that stands today.
Pearson’s youngest son, also named Richmond, built a two-story wooden home in Asheville which was also known as Richmond Hill. The home served as an inn for some time, but sadly was lost in a fire several years ago, leaving East Bend’s Richmond Hill the last standing.
There are 15 members of the Historic Richmond Hill Law School Commission under Chairman Wayne Matthews. They volunteer tirelessly to ensure that this special piece of Yadkin County history remains in tact for future generations.
To reserve a picnic shelter or plan a docent guided group tour other than open hours, call 336-699-3921.
Kitsey Burns Harrison may be reached at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter or Instagram @RippleReporterK.