Contract For Building A House For Col. Berryman Green
By Faye Tuck
Published November 3, 2004 The Gazette-Virginian

GreensFolly.jpg - 29863 Bytes
Papers were found at the Halifax Courthouse describing agreements for construction of a house for Colonel Berryman Green on January 8, 1804.

The contract went like this:

An agreement between James Ryborne and Berryman Green. The contract said Ryborne undertakes and binds himself to execute and perform for the said Berryman Green the following carpenter work to wit, to build a dwelling house which in its whole length shall be 64 feet and varied in breadth and pitch as here after described. The centre part to be 22 feet wide and 24 feet long - 22 feet pitch - divided into two stories and a garret - two large outer doors - that on the north side to have an elegant 10-foot-square porch and that on the South an eight-foot-square porch - to contain 13 18-light windows, one 12-light window and two of eight lights each - to have a fireplace in each story with suitable furnishings of chimney places, staircases, the lower floor to be clean laid. The second story is to be divided into convenient lodging rooms.

Added to each end of this part a wing of 25 feet in length and 18 in width of one story in height. These wings or rooms are each to have one outdoor and a passage door into the large room; a fireplace on the lower floor - to each outdoor a porch of eight feet square to contain four 18-light windows and one 12-light.

The center part of the house is intended upon a higher style of elegance. The whole building to be neatly and closely covered in with plain featheredge plank, heart pine shingles.

The contract continued for four pages describing what Colonel Berryman Green wanted in his home.

Berryman Green was to pay James Ryborne $1000 when the house was completed.

In a chancery suit dated 1817-010 James Ryburn (Ryborne) vs. Colonel Berryman Green in Halifax County. James Ryborne quit working on the Green house. He claimed that Green wanted him to stop the work because Green requested him to quit the work for a while alleging that he (Green) was not able to proceed with it without great inconvenience. The house was more costly than thought to be.

Berryman Green claimed that James Ryborne was indebted to him 350 lbs. and 16 lbs. and that on the Jan. 8, 1804, Ryburn came to see Green and by fair speeches and false promises induced Green to a contract with him for certain carpenter work to be done and performed, by Ryburn. Ryburn was to build a dwelling house 64 ft., to build a kitchen, a diary, a garden 120 sq. ft., a meat house, small house in the garden,with necessary gates. The kitchen at the Berryman Green house was copied after Philmon Carlton's kitchen. Anthony Green, son of Berryman Green, made this deposition.

Edward Carlton made a deposition and said he got the timber for Green's house. Carlton furnished two sawyers to James Ryburn for his use. Their names were Robin and Tom. He used them for nine months.

James Smith made a deposition at Edward Carlton's house and said he made the brick, about eighty thousand, for Green's house.

Anthony Green said that Ryburn's apprentices James Mustain and Wiley Hudson boarded with the Berryman Green family while building Green's house. (Wiley Hudson made a deposition on May 12, 1813, from Town of Statesville of Iredell Co., N.C.)

Robert Posey said he worked with James Ryburn on the house of Berryman Green.

The affidavit of Elisha Flora taken at Edward Carlton's Tavern on April 24, 1811. Flora was employed by Berryman Green to go on with the building of the house after James Ryburn quit the work on Green's house. Ryburn did about 1/2-1/3 of the house. It seems as if Flora finished March 9, 1808 with the house. Edward Carlton also helped finish the house.

I A deposition by Dr. Charles D. Fontaine on July 16, 1816, said "the house was not well built. The pitch of the rooms and general proportions of the house were better than is to be witnessed in this part of the country". He also said that sometime and having been the proprietor of the house partly built by James Ryburn for Berryman Green and being requested by said Green to state his (Fontaine) opinion as it relates.

Mrs. Edmunds in her history of Halifax County says that Colonel Berryman Green sold 335 acres on Miller Creek to Judge Paul Carrington Jr.

Judge Carrington gave the house to his daughter, Ann Mayo Carrington and her husband, Dr. Charles Fontaine, who died in 1817. Deposition taken of Lewis Bryant at Edward Carlton's said he was employed by Judge Carrington to plaster the house. This deposition was made in March 1813. Deposition made by Isaac H. Coles said that Berryman Green had offered his land to him but when Coles found out what Colonel Green wanted for his land, Coles said he did not go.

Is this Green's Folly?

The author believes it is, even though Wirt Carrington's book, "The History of Halifax County, 1929," states that Green's Folly was built in the 1770s.

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