Hugh Watt House, Old Cold Harbor, Hanover County, VA
Significance: As this is an unpretentious farmhouse, it has little recorded architectural history. Hugh Watt was born in Flenairm, Antrim County, Ireland. After his father's death, with his mother, he emigrated to Richmond, Va. in 1790. On April 5, 1801, he married Sarah Bohannon Kidd. She inherited from her father, Pittman Kidd, a farm called "Springdale" in Hanover County about 13 miles from Richmond in 1832 (360 acres in one tract and 171 acres in another.) In 1833, her husband, Hugh Watt was declared legal joint owner. Before 1836, the buildings on the farm were assessed at $150.00. In 1836, the assessment was $928.90. It seems evident, therefore, that this building was completed in 1835. The youngest son, George Watt, came into possession of the property in 1865. The first recorded repairs were made to the house in 1935 after it had been purchased by the Battlefield Park Corporation and deeded to the Virginia State Conservation and Development Commission. The Federal Government accepted title to all the Richmond National Battlefield property, including the Watt house on July 14, 1944. The repairs in 1935 were done by the Richmond firm of Claiborne and Taylor, Inc. Second recorded repairs were done in November 1945. Complete restoration and modernization of the house is being undertaken by the National Park Service during the 1957 fiscal year. The historical significance of the house is two-fold. The first is architectural for it shows the continuance of an early type of Virginia farmhouse built in the 1830's. It demonstrates how difficult it is to date vernacular buildings constructed with traditional methods unless there is documentary material. ... The second claim to fame of the Watt house is that it was used for a few hours by Major General Fitz-John Porter as a field headquarters during the Battle of Gaines' Mill, June 27, 1862 during the War Between the States. It was chosen because of its high location. After the battle, it was used as a hospital, during the war.
Unprocessed Field note material exists for this structure: FN-132
Survey number: HABS VA-477
Building/structure dates: 1836 Initial Construction
Building/structure dates: 1935 Subsequent Work
Building/structure dates: 1945 Subsequent Work
Building/structure dates: 1957 Subsequent Work