People and Places with Pierce: Farmville’s May Museum


FARMVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Farmville, like many towns in the East, traces its roots back to one family.

“This house was built in 1854 by James Williams May,” said Deb Higgins, director of the May Museum in Farmville.

One of the oldest structures in town is perfectly preserved today, a snapshot of days gone by.

“There was about a thousand acre farm here, and they were very well known and prosperous farmers and merchants,” said Michael Cable, chairman of the May Museum board. “It’s very unusual to have a house museum in a town this size, and it belongs to every citizen of Farmville.”

And Farmvillians have one woman to thank.

“Miss Tabitha DeVisconti,” added Higgins. “She moved here in 1931 and then she died in 1983. This for instance is a picture of her as a young woman. She’s the one here in the hat with her horse, Baby. When she died in 1983, she left the house to the town of Farmville with very specific instructions that it be used as a museum and be open to all of the citizens of Farmville.”

The old May House was finally opened as a museum per Miss Tabitha’s request in 1991. And a house this old has plenty of stories to tell.

“She kept family artifacts,” said Cable. “She thought the world of her immediate and of course past family so that’s why we have this wonderful quilt collection and all these artifacts from the May families.”

“We have about 40 quilts, 12 of which are family produced quilts,” added Higgins. “And for that quilt collection to still be intact is amazing. We’ve been told it’s the best in North Carolina.”

But Miss Tabitha left behind more than artifacts. A lot of mystery surrounded her and so have a lot of rumors and ghost stories.

“There was a murder that took place in the museum and some people swear that they’ve heard ghosts or whatever,” said Cable. “So that’s a big thing and some people are terrified of it. I’m not worried about ghosts. They don’t bother me. I never read of a ghost killing somebody.”

“There are people who tells stories of objects being moved and light switches being turned off when they know that there was no one there,” recalled Higgins. “They could see the switch moving on its own, and there was no person there. Hearing steps come down the stairs and that kind of thing. I’ve never experienced any of that so I’m not real sure.”

Whether you believe the ghost stories or not, one thing is clear. Miss Tabitha’s dream continues to live on today.

The May Museum will be celebrating their 25th anniversary on Sunday, October 9, 2016. Get you free tickets to the event by September 30th! Info below:



We’re always looking for your story ideas for People & Places with Pierce. If you have an interesting person or place you’d like to see featured, email Pierce or send him a message on Facebook or Twitter.


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