This property was first constructed as a small cottage, and since grew to 15 rooms. According to property records, the first owner was someone identified as S. Major– who could possibly have been Samuel Major of King and Queen County. In approximately 1750, the present small frame cottage was constructed on the corner of Market & Caroline Streets. Reuben Gravatt owned and occupied this Lot, 24, with his wife Lucy (Timberlake) Gravatt. Lucy Gravatt’s maiden name is the namesake of the present day home that now stands on this Lot.
After completing medical training at the University of Pennsylvania, Rueben Gravatt’s son, Dr. John J. Gravatt, took up residence at Timberlake, and erected his medical office building on Lot 17. In 1875, Dr. Gravatt became the first Mayor of Port Royal after the Civil War. He was also a vestryman of St. Peter’s Church for 31 years. Like Robert Gilchrist, Dr. Gravatt was a person of importance to Port Royal and the surrounding community. He died in 1920, one month shy of turning 100.
Timberlake’s expansion was largely tailored to Dr. J. J. Gravatt’s need for space for his large family and extra space for relatives and attendants. Dr. Gravatt had relatives, attendants, and people important to his medical practice living at Timberlake, in addition to his wife and five children. The enormous space requirements of his household meant that his estate needed 15 rooms, created as additions to the original structure. The structure that you see today is the result of that subsequent construction.
Dr. Gravatt’s story, like the story of this house, is an important chapter in the story of Port Royal. The story of the Gravatt family, much like the stories of the Lightfoot and Gilchrist families, echo across generations. It’s all the more reason that Historic Port Royal exists, to preserve these stories, so that future generations may know the history of this town.
–About Courtesy of “Hidden Village: Port Royal, Virginia 1744 – 1981” by Ralph Emmett Fall