Chinqua-Penn

  • Oct 1923: Thomas Jefferson “Jeff” Penn marries Margaret Beatrice “Betsy” Schoellkopf Schwill. Work on Chinqua-Penn is begun outside Reidsville.
  • December 1925: The Penns move into Chinqua-Penn.
  • Jan 1946: Jeff Penn dies.
  • Oct 1959: Betsy Penn, widow of Thomas Jefferson Penn gives the plantation valued at $7 million to UNC, reserving the use of it for her lifetime.
  • Feb 1965: Betsy Penn dies. The property is divided into three parts: the Jeff and Betsy Penn 4-H Center, the Upper Piedmont Research Station and Chinqua-Penn Plantation. Betsy Penn also leaves $984,940 in a trust fund to maintain the property. The money is paid out in annual installments of $50,000.
  • May 1965: UNCG assumes responsibility for operating Chinqua-Penn.
  • Apr 1966: Plantation and house are open to the public.
  • Feb 1986: UNCG closes Chinqua-Penn to the public. The board of trustees cites an inadequate annual operating budget. $2 million in repairs is needed.
  • Apr 1986: NC State assumes responsibility for Chinqua-Penn.
  • Jul 1986: Management duties are transferred to N.C. State University.
  • Aug 1986: Reopens after $2.3 million in state money is allocated by the legislature to pay for renovations.
  • August 1988: 21 junior and high school students are arrested with trespassing and vandalism. The teenagers reportedly broke in and held late night pool parties on the grounds.
  • Jul 1991: The plantation is closed due to state budget shortfall.
  • Nov 1991: Rockingham County residents vote against raising property taxes to re-open the plantation.
  • Jul 1993: North Carolina State Legislature earmarks $75,000 for Chinqua-Penn.
  • Oct –December 1993: N.C. State University gives $75,000 to the plantation. The Chinqua-Penn foundation receives a $50,000 state grant.
  • Jul 1994: Chinqua-Penn reopens. For the next five years the General Assembly sets aside about $350,000 annually for Chinqua-Penn from various state funds, for a total of $1.7 million. In addition, N.C. State spends more than $40,000 a year on insurance and utilities for the property.
  • Jan 2001: Staff is cut to decrease expenses.
  • Feb 2001: Plantation receives $100,000 grant from the Rockingham County Tourism Authority.
  • Apr 2001: Vandals break into the plantation, damaging four rooms.
  • Mar 2002: Rockingham County Tourism Authority demands more oversight authority from the foundation, charging poor management.
  • Jul 2002: The foundation announces that the plantation will close.
  • August 2002: The foundation returns responsibility back to N.C. State University.
  • Jan 2003: Chinqua-Penn Foundation raises $27,000 from auction of more than 440 items.
  • Aug 2003: N.C. State announces plans to sell the estate.
  • Oct 2003: Sotheby’s of New York hosts an open house to court potential buyers.
  • July 2004: N.C. State receives first written bid to buy the estate.
  • Oct 2006: Calvin Phelps, 44-yr-old Mocksville tobacco businessman buys Chinqua-Penn plantation for $4.1 million, and states plans to plant a vineyard and build a winery.
  • Jan 2008: Phelps and his wife Lisa begin offering tours and wine tastings after renovations.
  • Sept. 2010: Operations are seized by U.S. Marshals ordered by a federal bankruptcy court following a lawsuit against Phelps' three companies, Renegade Holdings Inc., Alternative Brands Inc. and Renegade Tobacco Co.
  • April 22-24, 2012: Estate will open for prospective bidders to get an up-close look at the items available later that week at the Greensboro coliseum's “Historic Chinqua Penn Plantation Estate Auction.”
  • April 27, 2012: Chinqua Penn art, antiques sell at auction for $3.4 million.
  • May 2012: A federal bankruptcy judge approves a settlement between the owner of Chinqua-Penn Plantation and several companies he once controlled, freeing him from further claims and returning what's left of the Reidsville estate to him.
  • June 8, 2013:Final selections - leftovers from the auction - from the Chinqua Penn Collection and its gift shop are offered for sale on the grounds.
  • Sept. 18, 2013: Chinqua Penn sold at auction on the Rockingham County courthouse steps at 1 pm. SunTrust Bank agreed to pay $1.4 million for the property.
  • Nov. 2014: The 23-acre mansion and grounds are for sale once again.It is being listed for $1.3 million.
  • Feb. 23, 2015: Legends International Inc. bought the property for $1.35 million.
  • June 8, 2015: Greensboro-based Mitchell Barnett Properties bought the 23-acre plantation for $650,000.

Source: News & Record archive


Chinqua Penn Plantation
2138 Wentworth St., Reidsville
Information: 349-4576, www.chinquapenn.com





Compiled by Diane Lamb, News & Record Researcher.

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