August 9, 2023
 |
Eastville Inn

Northampton County is no longer the owner of the Historic Eastville Inn in downtown Eastville following action by the Board of Supervisors Tuesday night.

In a unanimous vote, the Board voted to accept an offer worked out by County Attorney Michelle Clayton and John Greenside, a lawyer from Virginia Beach.

Greenside purchased the property for $250,000 and hopes to begin offering breakfast and lunch out of the first floor within 90 days. During his presentation to the Board, he said he hoped to be able to offer fine dining for dinner down the road. He also plans to offer delivery to residences and businesses within a five mile radius. The second floor is currently gutted and has several small rooms, a function of the age of the historic property. Greenside said he hoped to combine several of them to make up to eight rooms upstairs for a bed and breakfast, all of which would include bathrooms and kitchen facilities. He also hopes to host special events including weddings as well.

The contract with Greenside came with stipulations, including a 60 day period for due diligence to verify the structural integrity of the 1830 property. The County will retain a right of first refusal should Greenside decide to sell at any point in the future, and there is a revision clause in the contract, stating if the new owner does not offer food service within 18 months, the County will take the property back.

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Several Northampton residents spoke against the move at the public hearing.

“The Eastville Inn is a treasure, once it is sold, control over it is out of our hands,” said Jonny Stevenson of Smith Beach. “We have seen so much of our history lost over the last several years because people were afraid to speak up… I’m against the sale. I think Northampton County is more than just Cape Charles.”

Price Clark agreed, stating she liked the control Northampton maintained over zoning, which she felt had kept the County from being over developed. She feared giving up control over the Eastville Inn was a mistake.

Several Supervisors spoke reassuring those who expressed concern during the public hearing, reiterating the terms Clayton had laid out, stating the County would have the first option to purchase the property back from Greenside should he decide to sell and, should he not live up to his promises, they would end up owning it again.

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The motion was made by Betsy Mapp and seconded by Ernest Smith.

The Eastville Inn has been a thorny issue in Northampton for the last several years during the COVID-19 pandemic, a difficult time for restaurant owners. Kitchen Sync operated out of the historic site for several years offering prepared meals. However, complaints arose that the site was not offering on site dining and the Board took action. After several months of debate over the issue, the Board decided not to renew their lease with Kitchen Sync and sent out a request for proposals. Northampton received four bids, only one of which materialized.

“We tried to find someone who wanted to lease it and we just couldn’t make it work,” said Betsy Mapp.

The two-story Eastville Inn is a long rectangular structure built in approximately 1830, with two rear additions added in 1900 and 1920. The building was modernized in the 1920s and the interior was renovated in the late twentieth century; therefore many of the materials have been replaced but have maintained the building’s historical significance through design and feeling. A tavern has operated on this site since as early at 1724, according to the National Register of Historic Places.

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