|Mathews County Historical Society, Inc.||
Tompkins Cottage Museum circa 1820
The cottage is one of the oldest frame structures in the courthouse area. It contains changing exhibits and a collection of objects reflecting a typical home of the 1800s. The building is named for Christopher Tompkins of Poplar Grove, a prominent local planter, merchant, sea captain and ship owner/builder. A room is dedicated to his daughter, Capt. Sally Louisa Tompkins, CSA. Capt. Sally was the first woman to be commissioned an officer in an American army. An excellent example of early Tidewater folk architecture, distinctive features include beaded beams, batten doors and wrought iron hardware as well as an unusual door at the turn in the steep stairway. Over the years, the building has been a mercantile establishment, a tailor shop, a cobbler shop, a tea room and a residence. For much of the twentieth century it was known as the old Miller house.
The cottage was bought by the county from a private owner in 1965 and saved from planned demolition by the efforts of a dedicated group which rallied to preserve the historic building. In 1969 it was leased to the historical society for use as a museum and related educational purposes. The cottage is staffed by volunteer docents and is open to the public on Saturdays, April through October, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 43 Brickbat Rd. in downtown Mathews.
The Tompkins Cottage is registered as a Virginia Historic Landmark and placed on the National Register of Historic Places by the United States Department of the Interior.