History

On the National Register of Historic Places, the Penn House is a magnificent 12,500-square-foot home located on three beautifully landscaped acres. The original home was built by Charles and Stella Penn around 1908. Charles was the Vice President of American Tobacco, which was the leading employer in Rockingham County. The home burned in 1931 and was rebuilt in 1932 in the Colonial Revival Style.

Donated to the City of Reidsville in 1980, the home is open to the community and public for special events, weddings, business meetings and other functions. Furnished in antiques, the home offers an ambiance not found in most meeting facilities. Each room has unique character.

Charles Penn (1868-1931) was an important figure in Reidsville's tobacco industry and is largely responsible for developing the popular "Lucky Strikes" brand of cigarettes for American Tobacco. Charles came to Reidsville when he was very young with his parents Frank Reid Penn and Annie Spencer Penn.  He worked his entire life in the tobacco industry and rose through the ranks at American Tobacco Company to one of the highest and most commanding stations.  The ultra-violet rays and toasting process of the famous Lucky Strike Cigarettes were his formulas.

The current home is a excellent example of Colonial Revival design.  It is the largest and most elaborate Colonial Revival residence from the 1920-1940 period still standing in Reidsville. Danville, Va. architect Bryant Hurd designed the home, which features an impressive Corinthian portico and handsome interior woodwork with freely interpreted Neo-Federal details.

Charles was married Stella Edrington, who was born in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1883.  Stella's father, Henry, was the founder of Farmers and Merchants Bank in Fort Worth, (later the First National Bank of Fort Worth.)  Stella met Charles through his sister Anita Penn.

The Penns were very big in philanthropic contributions to Reidsville and Rockingham County.  Some notable contributions are the Ashby Penn Foundation Cancer Fund to provide care for indigent patients, being instrumental in the creation of the Reidsville Junior League, which gave heavily to local churches, and was largely responsible for the establishment of Reidsville's first library.  Charles was a major contributor to Annie Penn Memorial Hospital, which was named after his mother.

Many people wonder about the relationship of Chinqua Penn and the Penn House.  Jeffery Penn of Chinqua Penn and Charles were brothers.  There were 11 children in the Penn family with Charles being the oldest and Jeffery the next to the oldest.  Chinqua Penn is privately owned and the Penn House is owned and operated by the City of Reidsville.  Each property is operated separately.