Immediately to your right is a mural adapted from a drawing by William Waud which appeared in Harper's Magazine during the Civil War. The mural is an artist's impression of the Petersburg waterfront on the Appomattox River - probably at City Dock just downriver from here - showing how some of the wharves and contemporaneous boats may have looked during that period. At that time, the City of Petersburg had about 18,000 inhabitants. Five railroads had been established since the 1830's heading in and out of the city, as well as several important manufacturing industries.
Petersburg, formerly Fort Henry, was a bustling trade center from its founding in the 17th century due to the good trails and roads along the Fall Zone into central and western North Carolina, and a navigable canal just above the harbor leading west. The Appomattox remained open to relatively shallow draft sailing vessels, barges, and flatboats: the railroads had taken over much of the shipment of goods formerly carried by ships. The "Peter Jones Trading Station" had been an important part of Petersburg's trade and commerce in the mid-to-late 1600's, for it served as the locus of river and land trade.
One of the structures in the trading operations was the "Old Stone Lumberhouse" to your front. This structure variously served as a headquarters for trade with western settlers, Indian tribes and foreign countries - especially England - and as a storage place for trade goods, then powder and guns after the Revolutionary War. It was the departure point for various explorations of the western and southern regions of Atlantic America. What you see here are the remnants of the circa 1844 renovation of the building which was destroyed almost completely during a fire in 1980. The building was probably built sometime between the mid-1600s to the early 1700s of rubble stone. It served a the City's powder magazine from 1785 to 1791.
During its long history, the trading station saw its commerce carried by various types of vessels as far as London, to various American coastal ports by barges, flatboats, ferries, canoes, canoas (hollowed out logs), wagons, horse trains (as far as Alabama), railroads, oxen-pulled tobacco hogsheads, and small rowboats. From the port, Petersburg exported such materials as deerskins, lumber, ship's masts, tobacco, foodstuffs including wheat and flour; and later manufactured goods and seafood including caviar.
One block west on Grove Avenue Johnson's Alley is the entrance to the historic site known as Harvell's (Jones' or Bolling's) Dam, located where the great falls of the Appomattox River meet the tidewaters of the ocean 100 miles to the east. Approximately four blocks to the west is the traditional site of Fort Henry. In 1646, the fort was given to Abraham Wood. From it in 1650 Wood and Edward Bland set out on an exploring expedition; and in 1671 Batte and Fallam under Wood's direction led the first expedition known to have crossed the Appalachian mountains.