In 1630, Governor West granted English trader Thomas Allen 550 acres in Elizabeth City County, Virginia, “begin: upon the first branch that extends Southerly out of the Long Creek upon the East side of the Chisopeiacke (Lynnhaven) River up the said Creek into the woods Sly, Wly towards the Great Indian Field and Nly along the said Creek into the woods”. In 1637 the grant was renewed with a slightly changed description.
In 1640, Allen is believed to have built the original house which is located in the middle central section of the manor house today. It was built in the one room loft-style typical of the time.
The Cornick family acquired the home and property in the late 17th century. Around 1770, the Georgian addition of Broad Bay Manor was built by Lemuel Cornick I. The property was owned by three generations of Lemuel Cornicks. In 1847, William Dozier from North Carolina bought the property from Lemuel Cornick III.
In 1856, Enoch D. Ferebee bought Broad Bay Manor from Willoughby Dozier, the son of William A. Dozier. The Doziers were relatives of the Ferebees. Later, three generations of Ferebees owned Broad Bay Manor. The property changed owners several times between 1907 and 1914 when John B. Dey acquired the property. Dey bought the property at auction for an average price of $70 per acre.
In 1928, Dey did major renovations to the house including replastering throughout and adding plumbing and a central hot water coal fired heating system.
He raised the roof on Allen’s original house and added a sunroom to the front. Dey also added on a small two-story addition consisting of a kitchen, bathroom and a library area.
The two-story house in back that was originally the kitchen for the main house was struck by lightning and burned while the Deys were living in it during the 1928 renovation. They barely escaped. Slave quarters, which were used by the Deys as tenant worker housing, were strung along Dey Cove Drive from approximately 1660 to 1692.
Barracks built during World War I to house troops awaiting deployment stood near the site of 1656 Dey Cove Drive. Furman Dey, John’s son, burned the slave quarters and most of the farm outbuildings after retiring from farming as the city taxed them by the square foot. The Deys operated a 500 acre vegetable truck farm utilizing 40 mules and as many as 500 workers during peak harvest times.
In 1975, Chester and Barbara Ehrenzeller purchased the home and in 1980 an addition to the house and the surrounding brick wall were built. Chet and Babs claim the house as the “oldest continuously lived-in home in America”. While they readily admit they can’t prove it, and it very well may not be true, if the original portion was built in 1640, it certainly would be in the running.
Broad Bay Point Greens formed around their ten acre estate in 1984 when R. G. Moore began developing the community.
Contributed by C. F. Ehrenzeller