Marchmont was one of four plantations in near proximity to Advance, North Carolina.
The larger Cooleemee plantation was owned by the Hairston family. The smaller Peebles plantation joined my grandfather’s farm where I lived until I was six years old. The house had a porch with two story columns but was unpainted and the grounds completely overgrown when I first saw it. It overlooked the Yadkin river and its most unique feature was the family grave plot. My father purchased this from the Peebles family living there. They were the only black family I knew at the time who owned acreage. They kept a small tract and built a home there. The original Peebles family had been white during the Civil war period. The Bailey plantation was a beautiful house with well kept grounds and notable acreage. This family had a daughter near my age who occupies the home today.
When I was six years old my family moved from my grandparent’s home to the Marchmont.
It was owned by distant cousins of my father who had hired him to manage the roughly one thousand acers. This was the most impressive house I had ever seen. The drive to the house went by the large barns before the house came into view. There was a small log cabin on the right where the rusting iron gates opened in front of the house. A low brown stone wall circled the drive from the gates. The house sat on two tiers of grounds like a wedding cake. Perched on the top tier was a stately mansion three stories high. The top floor was a tower with a roof that opened onto a view of the entire property located on a bluff above the Yadkin river. This was my favorite spot and I spent many hours there.
There were several buildings near the house, a two car garage, a large three story building near the side of the main house had been slave quarters and there was a small well house. The house had two flights of granite steps leading to the beautiful eight foot high double front doors.
Large boxwoods were planted in a circular pattern in the back yard. A concrete pool with a broken statue was the focal point with each corner planted in boxwoods in the shape of hearts and spades. A huge Japanese cherry tree, lilac bushes, yellow bells and Magnolia trees complimented the view. This was overgrown when we moved into the house but still beautiful when viewed from the flagstone porch or second story balcony.
The house consisted of about fourteen rooms but we occupied only four of these rooms. It was hard to heat twelve foot high ceilings. My sister and I shared a huge bedroom which adjoined the only bathroom our family used and a large sunporch opened off our bedroom. There were no closets so we had a large cedar wardrobe made by a local craftsman, Mr. Shutt, and a desk with matching twin beds. It was the most beautiful bedroom I ever had. The house had been empty for a while and although neglected it was still magnificent. Outside our side porch was the first yellow cherry tree I had seen and the cherries were delicious.
The house had been built by William Booe March prior to the Civil war because he had used slave labor to clear the land and build the house. This family owned the March hotel in Lexington in addition to this property. Mr. March had made his money in cotton trading. He was sheriff of Davie county and later a senator. He earned the title colonel during the civil war. His wife had died when his two daughters were young and although her death preceded his by more than fifth years he did not remarry. He lived at Marchmont with a daughter and two granddaughters until his death.
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