Riverside Stands as an Early 19th Century Gem in Walter Hill

April 20, 2020, The Daily News Journal, Susan Harber

Riverside, also known as the Pierce-Randolph House, was built in 1830, is located on West Jefferson Pike in Walter Hill.

Riverside, also known as the Pierce-Randolph House, was built in 1830 and is a treasure on West Jefferson Pike in Walter Hill. The Riverside Farm has been listed on the National Historic Places since 2006. Beverly Randolph Drive is a current roadway near the home. My dear friend Karen Prather lives behind Riverside; and when I visited her through the years, I would always glance over at this beautiful structure with a great desire to study its history.

The late Victorian architecture of this 189-year old home is stunning on a brick and stone foundation. The house is 3,720 square feet today with an addition in 2010.

Beverly Harrison Randolph Sr. (1793-1868) settled in Walter Hill in 1816. Beverly’s parents were Harrison and Mary Jones Randolph of Henrico County, Virginia. He was a descendant of the prominent Randolph and Beverly families of Williamsburg, Virginia.

Beverly wed Lucy Wade Searcy (1802-1891) in 1818. She was the daughter of William Washington Searcy, Lieutenant-colonel of the Rutherford County Militia and a senator in the 14th General Assembly (1821-1823). William died in 1846 and is buried in the Searcy Cemetery in Walter Hill. Lucy inherited the family farm with the grand house being constructed in 1831. Beverly was a prosperous farmer, merchant and also a magistrate of 5th District from 1842 to his death in 1868. He was an active Whig and member of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Their children included Sarah, William, John Beverly, Charlotte and Catherine.

Riverside circa 1977.

The Pierce family established a successive settlement in Walter Hill on 1,400 acres in the 1830s with Alfred Pierce as proprietor. Alfred and wife Harriett had five children: Sallie, William, Isaac, Leander, and Sarah. They flourished in farming with cotton, corn, and hogs. Alfred had 23 slaves in 1860. After the Civil War, some freed slaves remained to work Riverside farm and were paid for labor. In later years, owner Beverly Randolph Jones had a strong relationship with freed slaves and hosted a joint family reunion in the 1900s. In this timeframe, two African-American families rented houses on the property.

Alfred’s brother Granville Pierce also lived in Walter Hill. He wed Elizabeth Abbott in Rutherford County in 1830; and he was the postmaster of Abbotts Mill in 1833. Granville bought 700 acres near the historic home in 1831. In turn, Alfred purchased partial property from Granville and maintained ownership of the home.

Alfred died in 1862 and is buried at Alford Cemetery in Mona. His wife Harriett Alford Pierce perished in 1863 during the Civil War and is also buried there. Upon Alfred’s death, son William Pierce owned the home.

In 1871, William sold 572 acres of farm and the house near East Fork Stones River to Major Beverly Randolph Jr (1837-1921). Beverly was the son of original owner Beverly Randolph Sr. He attended Cumberland University and joined the Confederate Army in the 45th Tennessee Infantry. He fought in Stones River battle and was captured. He returned from Union prison Camp Morton (Indiana) after 16 months in 1865 and wed Elizabeth Casandra Wade the same year.

In 1868, Beverly filled his father’ position as magistrate until 1892 and was a strong Democrat in the county. He was also the Circuit Court Clerk from 1880-1884. Moreover, he was a Master in the Masonic lodge and elder of the Presbyterian Church.

Beverly Jr had substantial vision for Riverside; and he enlarged the home in the 1870s adding two more bedrooms and rear ell wing. He was also a thriving farmer of 500 acres and managed a greater amount of land than his father.

Upon Beverly Jr’s death, the house was divided among the four surviving children. His son John Beverly Randolph (1874-1966) then purchased the home from his siblings. John wed Alice Fletcher, and she bore three children: John Beverly, Henry Sperry, and Sarah Elizabeth. John Beverly was on the Rutherford County Court from 1912-1959. He supervised cotton, hogs and Jersey cattle for dairy on this farm.

In 1966, John’s daughter Sarah, a Rutherford County teacher and antique dealer, sought possession of the house and 450 acres; and she died in 1999. Sarah and spouse John Claude Jones forged considerable renovations to the house. In recent months, the house was for sale by descendant and owner Beverly Jones. Until this time, the home had been inhabited by the current owner’s maternal ancestors since 1865. All the males who have lived in Riverside were named Beverly. In January 2019, new owners discovered 40 bullet holes underneath wallpaper in an upstairs bedroom that were from the Civil War Era. Further, a priceless 1878 map of Rutherford County surfaced in the home.

Riverside Farm includes the two-story 1831 I-house, log dogtrot and a Greek Revival portico with Italianate brackets. The original house was central-hall with a side gable roof and two-story, two-tiered central classical front portico with two-story columns. The house also has an enclosed L-shaped rear porch, along with three brick chimneys.

The paneled doors are solid wood. The main feature of the façade is the shouldered exterior brick chimney. The entrance hall showcases original wood floor, and most mantles are original. A stairway leads to second floor bedrooms. In the 1970 renovation of the home, the original desk of Beverly Randolph Jr was featured in the bedroom.

The parlor and dining room retain brick fireplaces, while the 1890 wallpaper was floral and geometric patterns. John Beverly Randolph III added red and white glass to the transom in the 1940s. The front double door has beaded woodwork, along with more doorways in the home. The exquisite stained glass windows of the home were broken several times. The house had a robbery in 1963 that was damaging.

The hand-hewn log dogtrot with metal roof and stone chimney of 1831 was in rear of mansion. Electricity was added to the home in the 1920s.

Riverside Home has been an architectural and familial sensation in the Walter Hill community of modern-day Rutherford County and remains as an exceptional historical gem.

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