PUNGO — Even as Henley’s at Pungo Ridge prepared to open in mid-May, merging sale of Henley Farms produce downstairs to an expansion of Barbara Murden Henley’s ongoing efforts to research local history, Henley herself acknowledged that it will be in progress for some time.
But there’s potential in how it may evolve. This mix makes sense to her.
“I want to be able to tell people where things come from,” she said, whether it’s fresh produce, handmade crafts, or a discussion of family and community history.
“We want to tell the stories of the people and how we connect,” she added.
It was ready to open for customers downstairs and, upstairs, for by-appointment-only tours, but she sees potential for this place to become a hub for historical research. It is a passion for Henley, a member of the city council who represents the Princess Anne District and has written a history of the old Princess Anne County’s southern reaches.
The c. 1850 family farmhouse is part of a ressurection of sorts for the area, once a small country hub at corner of Princess Anne and Pleasant Ridge roads. An antique store soon to open on the corner across Pleasant Ridge Road, a site that was the old location for NAPA Pleasant Ridge, which is up Princess Road a bit these days. Before that, it was where Henley’s grandfather ran a store into the 1960s, R.J. Murden & Son General Merchandise. “That’s where I learned to work,” Henley said.
The farmhouse and land had been with the Murden family since the 1940s, she said. The downstairs of the farmhouse already contained historical items, such as a jersey from when Charity had its baseball team. Antique family furniture also was on display. Henley hopes to have other items here, such as a barber chair from the shop at Pleasant Ridge and an old ballot box from a voting precinct.
Henley and others will continue to conduct research that may result in another book of local history. Or two, for that matter. Henley has co-authored a history of Charity United Methodist Church and written, with contributors, a history of Princess Anne County.
Henley said her goal of making the upstairs of the farmhouse a research and history center will not interfere with the dedicated work of the research group at the Senior Rosource Center Inc. down in Creeds. Henley and others remain engaged in building upon and updating historical data documenting family cemeteries in the former county, and effort that now includes citywide exploration. [That work, again, is ongoing, and volunteers are welcome. Reach Henley at (757) 426-7501.]
The new use of the old house also gives Henley a place to meet people, she noted, “besides Panera.”
And changes here might have another effect, she said. “Pleasant Ridge will become a place again instead of just a road.”
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