Washington County, North Carolina

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The Washington County administrative offices are located at 116 Adams Street, Plymouth, NC 27962; phone: 252-793-5823.

Beginnings [1]

Washington County is twelve years the junior of Plymouth. It was established in December, 1799, just a few days before 13 December 1799, the death date of George Washington for whom it was named. In the last decades of the 17th century, when the first settlement occurred in what is now Washington County, the area was a part of the Chowan Precinct in Albemarle County. It remained a part of Chowan Precinct until 1722 when Bertie County was established. Its history as a part of Bertie County was short-lived for in 1729 Tyrrell County was formed from "... that part of Albemarle County, lying on the South side of Albemarle Sound, and Moratuck (Roanoke) River ..." In 1799 Washington County was formed from Tyrrell County and, excepting some minor adjustments, its boundaries have remained the same to the present. Courts were held at Lee's Mill until 1823 when the courthouse was moved to Plymouth.

According to local tradition and an unpublished history of the county there were trading operations here at the place that became Plymouth in the first decades of the 18th century. They revolved around the "Brick House" that appears to have been a store house for goods. There is the possibility that the "Brick House" was erected as early as 1711. It was standing by 1738 when it appears on James Wimble's map. Presumably, that "Brick House" was erected on lands then or later belonging to the Rhodes Family, headed by William Rhodes, who had owned land in the area that became Plymouth in the 1720's. Whether the Brick house came first or was erected under the sponsorship of the family remains undetermined. However, the term was used to denote Rhodes' grandson's major holding—the Brick House Plantation—in the later-18th century. In 1787 Arthur Rhodes set aside 100 acres of his plantation and laid out a town of 172 lots on the south bank of the Roanoke River, about seven miles up the river from where it flowed into the Albemarle Sound. The first lots were sold that same year to Margrette Collins; it appears, however, that the sale of lots was slow. Rhodes' personal role in the development of the town ended in 1790 when he sold all the unsold lots to a group of nine trustees. Under their sponsorship the remaining lots would be sold and the initial development in the town occurred.

  1. David Foard Hood, Historic and Architectural Resources of Plymouth, North Carolina, nomination document, 1990, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

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