Oh, if walls could talk! The Macon House was built in 1851 as a grand hotel (pictured is the proprietor’s house on the side). The other side of North Street had not been built and the view from the hotel looked clear out to the river.
At the beginning of the Civil War, the house and hotel was used by Confederate Officers and their families as living quarters. When the Union troops took Portsmouth and evacuated all of the Confederate troops, the Union Army took the Macon Hotel to use as a hospital and the front house was used by the officers in charge. There were reports from the surrounding neighbors of screams coming from the open windows as the hospital performed operations (thank goodness for the drugs we have today!). The neighborhood women working in the hospital would smuggle medical supplies and drugs out of this Union hospital in the hems of their petticoats and bring them to the house next to St. John’s on Washington St. to be smuggled to their evacuated husbands in the Confederate Army. In both the hotel portion as well as the front house there are still carved regiment numbers in the woodwork.
The hotel portion was later converted to apartment buildings and the proprietor’s house to family residence after the Civil War as it is today.
Be sure to peek at the adjacent courtyard garden on your tour!