The Commons was built by the Rea family whose history was entwined with that of the USA since its early days. Boston merchants appreciated the commercial opportunities afforded by the navigability of the river and proceeded to profit from shipping in goods. The wealth afforded the means to establish large homes in the town, and The Commons is perhaps a prime example.
As the road and rail system improved the port of Murfreesboro experienced a decline in traffic and ceased operations as recently as the 1960's; and growth of the town has pretty well stagnated since then. However, it is the home of Chowan University and it is also a dormitory town for Ahoskie, some fifteen miles south.
The town is largely black but it seems that with few exceptions the social circles are quite homogenous. There also seems to be a pronounced divide between the 'old' residents whose families have been here for generations, and the newcomers. There is another informal line between those who are long term owners of the historic homes. These folk are referred to as 'the Upper crust of Murfreesboro'. It is an interesting social cross-section.
The Commons ceased being a home some decades ago, and has served variously as a funeral home, a florist and a gift shop. Mt friend Jennifer moved to Murfreesboro with her husband about ten years ago and soon after purchased The Commons. After establishing a bed and breakfast, wine shop and small restaurant, she renovated the building extensively, and you can see from the photo how impressive it is.
Jennifer is also a trained chef and her culinary skills are shown off in her breakfast and dinner menus. And while doing that, she has researched the history of the Rea family and is writing an historical novel. She is one energetic lady!
During my stayed I had the pleasure of meeting a number of people. One couple was Dennis and his wife Pamela, from Maryland. They were down to attend a family reunion but we had the opportunity to conduct some long conversations. Dennis is a former Vietnam combat veteran and rides a Harley. Although retired, he still coaches tennis to keep busy. Pamela is a physician at a rehab hospital who has an amazing life story. The are going to South Africa later this year and are sure to have a wonderful time.
Last night the wine bar was a noisy place with Tim and Teresa, who also run a bed and breakfast, Tom and Bridget who are shortly returning to Australia to live, Ellie and her sister Susan. And today I shared in a game of bridge with seven other folk from the town. It was great to meet so many of the local folk.
On Sunday Jennifer drove us to Portsmouth where we had a pleasant lunch overlooking the waterways. Sometimes one just needs to get away from Murfreesboro, it seems!
Did I mention I worked on Saturday evening? Some folk booked in for dinner at short notice and as it was a holiday weekend, the usual help was not available. I last used my waiter skills over forty years ago but I seemed to do OK!
I am keen to get going again. I am aiming for Charlotte NC where the bike is to receive its 20,000 km service and a new front tire.