Brooklyn Store and Post Office
The Brooklyn Store and Post Office, on Brooklyn Road in Halifax County, was apparently built by William Easley shortly after he purchased the property in 1848. A store and post office of some sort had existed in the Village of Brooklyn since the 1820's. County tax records and architectural evidence suggest the present store is a replacement of an earlier building.
Easley partnered with tobacco planter Beverly Barksdale II to ship goods from Balitimore, Maryland, up the Roanoke River navigation system to Milton, North Carolina, and overland to the store.
The Brooklyn Store and Post Office is representative of large country stores built throughout Virginia in the nineteenth century. It was here that the "Brooklyn Grays" enlisted for the Confederate army, Company E, 23rd Virginia Infantry, under Captain William Haymes.
The two-story frame building has a Greek Revival pedimented front gable, as well as iron-barred windows and a second-story entrance with evidence of a pulley for lifting bulk goods through rough batten doors. The first floor entrance has unusual four-over-four panel, double leaf front door with a five-light transom.
The front window shutters constructed of diagonally pieced boards studded with nails for security purposes are in storage. Stone steps rise to the front and side entrances. A stone chimney formerly rose on the rear gable, the base of which is still evident. The fieldstone basement has a side entrance and several unglazed windows with iron bars and is believed to have been used for the storage of whiskey.
The first floor features a large front salesroom and a small rear office. The salesroom walls are sheathed with flush boards that were painted green in the nineteenth century and are now painted red. The ceiling is supported by beveled joists, and a counter with shelves underneath runs along the west wall of the room. In a rear corner are floor to ceiling shelves extending nearly three feet in depth that were probably used to store bolts of cloth, and a roller formerly mounted on a ceiling joist near the shelves served to display cloth. Wall mounted shelving, perhaps for keeping small items, occupies two corners. The front entrance and the doorway to the office have molded and beaded surrounds.
Inside the front entrance two wrought iron holders once held a door band for protection from break-ins, but only one remains. To the right of the front door, glued to the wallboard, is a fragment of a postal notice dated 1895 indicating the former location of a post office. A cloth banner advertising "Ayers Cherry Pectoral" (cough syrup) and part of a dress form survive in this room.
The small office or counting room has flat board walls and ceiling replacing earlier plaster and a fieldstone mantel and hearth. Under an enclosed winder stair is a two-panel closet door with graffiti on the inside: "Barksdale & H ... P. W Mills, February 7, 1879, Bob Easley." A six-panel door leading to the second floor has "W.W.B." written on it.
The second floor served largely for storage, although there were rooms probably used as lodging. Original construction details are visible on the unfinished second floor. Plates and corner boards are hewn and the studs and ceiling joists are straight sawn; all are connected with pegged mortise and tenon joints.
More graffiti appears in the front room: "Wm Easley Esq." and "Wm & [R] H. Easley." Other features include a six-panel door separating the front and rear rooms and a stone fireplace with a Victorian mantel from a Halifax County residence.
A spring located several feet to the left of store is encased by fieldstones like those used in the foundation of the store and post office. An old well, also fieldstone encased, remains behind the structure.
The Brooklyn Store and Post Office was purchased in 1990 by Ginger Gentry. In 1991 she and her husband Mack cleared the land around the 150-year-old building and began the restoration. Brooklyn Store and Post Office is listed in the Virginia Landmarks Register and in the National Register of Historic Places.
PHOTO BELOW: Original door on the Brooklyn Store and Post Office. Note the mail slot in the door on the left.