Did anyone else start humming “The Addams Family” theme song when they saw that house? No? Just me? Given the age of the home and the history of the land I’m just going to assume that one day I’ll be home alone and I’ll hear a little boy upstairs, bouncing a ball, asking me to play with him.
Please do not ask me to play with you…
Speaking of the history of the land and house, I have done some research and all online therefore it’s not completely reliable but I’ll proceed as if it is.
The original owner of the land was Roger Dixon and the oldest part of the home’s foundation that still exists today dates from about 1770. Apparently there is a piece of the cellar wall that is 18 inches thick and which is the original portion of the house. As I have spent all of 10 minutes in the cellar I cannot say where that may be definitively but once the house is a little more walkable I’ll be sure to investigate.
I digress. Roger Dixon was a businessman and owned a mill and the area referred to as “Hazel Hill” in Fredericksburg, VA. Upon his death in 1771, the property passed to Roger Dixon’s widow who eventually sold the portion of the land known as “Sligo” to Charles Mortimer, physician to Mary Washington and first mayor of Fredericksburg. In 1786, Charles Mortimer sold Sligo to Michael Ryan.
From here things get tricky. It would appear that Charles Mortimer owned Sligo along with two others: Lucy Minor and William Smith and somehow a man named Gen. Posey comes into the picture. I have to be honest, I am not entirely sure what happens at this point with the property. The more I try and comprehend what happened the longer I stare at the computer screen and ohmygodmybrainhurts, am I drooling? Let’s just skip this part as there are a lot of deaths and widows and deeds.
The next owner of Sligo is John Lewis, Fielding Lewis’s oldest son, who purchases the home from Gen. Posey in 1794. However, John Lewis and his family do not own the property for long because in 1795 John Ferneyhough Sr., an immigrant from England, purchases the home and it stays in the Ferneyhough family until 1903.
John Ferneyhough Sr. was a coach and carriage maker who aided in the Revolutionary War. He also owned a public ice house which sat on today’s Sophia Street in Fredericksburg, VA. From what I gather the original house was a one story, wood frame home and John Ferneyhough Sr. owned over 30 slaves.
Chair of John Ferneyhough which can be seen in the Mary Washington house. Image retrieved 31 July 2018 from http://jfjm100.com/the-virginia-museum/the-peter-scott-shop.html
None of the documents I have seen indicate how many homes have stood on the site. Soon after the end of the Civil War the Ferneyhough family left for Richmond and did not return to their home until 1865. In 1889, the home that stands today was built.
In 1903, Hazel Hill and Sligo was sold to Henry Warden though it was at Hazel Hill that Henry Warden and his family lived. Grace Warden, Henry Warden’s daughter, married Sydney Shannon and in 1907, Sligo was occupied by P. L. Shannon, Syndey Shannon’s father. With that being said, both Hazel Hill and Sligo fell under the name of the Grace Warden Shannon Estate. For those Fredericksburgians reading, the name Shannon may be familiar as it is Syndey Shannon, Jr. who brought to fruition Shannon Airport and who once owned the golf course that the lovely Central Park sits upon.
There were rumors many years ago that the property was used as a hospital for wounded British soldiers during the Revolutionary War. It was more probable that it was used as a hospital for the Gunnery Factory which sat near by. It is also said to have been a hospital for Federal soldiers and the land was used for drills.
Finally, I leave you with this little tidbit: “One informant, Mrs. Daniel, says that as a child…she was told that on the grounds of “Sligo”…was found a prisoner (presumably British) who had been put in an iron cage and left to die. She said as well as she could remember he had been petrified.” So…yeah. Does anyone have a room I can stay in?
N. M. Deaderick, 2 June 1937, Works Progress Administration of Virginia Historical Inventory, “Sligo” – Site.
N. M. Deaderick, 14 June 1937, Works Progress Administration of Virginia Historical Inventory, “Sligo.”