The Vines-Hearn house is a substantial house (the original portion of the house consisted of ten large rooms and two 40 foot long halls, one lower and one upper), combining Federal and Greek Revival elements. Its two-story hip-roof form, punctuated by two large interior chimneys which service eight fireplaces, started becoming popular in Edgecombe and Pitt counties in the mid-19th century.
The portico has plain square columns, flush sheathed pediment and molded entablature. The central entrance double door, with sidelights and transom, is characterized by heavy surround with beveled moldings and corner blocks.
The interior is embellished with Greek Revival details, including squat-proportioned post and lentil mantles, wide door and window surrounds, and impressive original grained four-panel doors. Curiously, one of the rear shed rooms is provided with a small back stair, a very unusual element for a house of this era. It is thought to have been the sleeping chamber for the children's servant, because the stair led to the nursery. This room was mirrored with a travelers guest room on the opposite side of the porch.
The ceilings on the first floor are twelve feet tall while the second floor has a ceiling height of eleven feet, another very unusual feature for a house of this period.
When your enter the front doors of Myrtle Grove you will never feel that you are in a “facility”, but in a warm and welcoming home, because that is exactly what it is. The owners not only operate Myrtle Grove as a dining and event venue, but live here as well.
On a typical visit to Myrtle Grove, you will be allowed to go on a self guided tour of the main house upon your arrival. If you wish, during dessert, owner Joe White will share a brief history about the property and the people who lived here. Myrtle Grove has had an eventful and interesting history, including a small Civil War skirmish on July 20, 1863 (“The Yankees Have Been Here!”, the story of Brig. Gen. Edward E. Potter's Raid on Greenville, Tarboro, and Rocky Mount, July 19-23, 1863, by David A. Norris), and a murder that took place here in late November of 1869, (The Tarboro Southerner, Thursday, December 2, 1869). He will tell you about the furnishings, where they came from, and how they were used in the daily life of a busy plantation. And no visit is complete without ghost stories. You will hear about the things that go bump in the night and if you are lucky you may get a glimpse of the “blue lady” who has been seen descending the back stairs.
Renovations and the Cobb House
The present owners, Joseph G. White and Daniel R. Roberson, purchased the property in August of 1999, and began the two and a half year restoration of the main house. They have furnished the house with many Eastern North Carolina pieces from Beaufort, Pitt, Halifax, Hertford and Edgecombe counties, as well as pieces from the Tidewater Virginia area.
In 2006, they decided to offer the house and grounds as a venue for private parties, receptions, luncheons, dinners, and as a corporate meeting facility. It became obvious that, though the house was large, it would not serve the needs of a catering business and event venue without additional space. The owners, being passionate supporters of historic preservation and recycling, decided to move and retrofit an existing structure if possible instead of constructing an entirely new one. The ca. 1880 Cobb house was found four miles away, just outside the town of Falkland. It was about to be demolished, and the owners were pleased that it could instead be put to a useful purpose.
The structure was moved, and an addition was made to connect the two houses. The Cobb house had gone through extensive changes throughout the years and had no historic or architectural significance. The interior was gutted, and four rooms were transformed into two large adjoining dining rooms which can accommodate a large number of people. A commercial kitchen was included in the addition between the two structures. The outside of the structure was preserved and looks much as it would have when it was built, except for a ramp that makes it handicapped accessible. Architectural elements such as doors, mantels, and window and door trim from nearby houses that were too far gone to be saved were incorporated in the project giving the structure a new identity while saving and showcasing these beautiful items.
Though the project would not completely qualify for a “green” building certificate, the owners are proud of the project and the use and reuse of existing materials. Builder and project manager Rick Lambeth of Lambeth Restorations and Building of Tarboro, discarded nothing that could be reused.
The project has added the space and equipment needed for the catering operation without compromising the historic integrity of Myrtle Grove.