Cultural Center
Christmas Ornaments
"The Original Cypress Grill" Jamesville NC, 1936 - 2018

“The Original Cypress Grill” was one of the last “authentic fish shacks” in North Carolina when it burned to the ground on July 22, 2018. The Friends of Old Martin County Courthouse, Inc. have chosen this memorable place in Martin County history as our 2019 ornament.

The Cypress Grill was owned by three generations of the Roberson family in Jamesville, NC. Ransom Roberson, a logger, bought the land along the Roanoke around 1935 and built a simple “cook-up shack” where he could cook, play cards and enjoy a little “toddy” with friends on the bank of the river. Family legend has it that the shack burned after a poker game dispute. The shack was later replaced and evolved into the Cypress Grill. The property passed on to Ransom and Mae Williams Roberson’s children and was bought from his siblings by their younger son, Alva “Red” Roberson and his wife Mamie Louise Holiday Roberson. Their daughters, Deane Phelps and Amy Hardison, owned the property when it burned to the ground in 2018.

While the Roberson family owned the land and building, they never operated the restaurant. For most of its life they leased it to two local families who opened it to the public for four months each spring coinciding with the herring run. The Williams family operated the business for more than two decades. Leslie and Sally Gardner and their family kept the business open each spring for more than four decades. Their daughter, Kathy Davis, had taken over operations in the last few years.

Johnny Philpott, a well-known local sign painter and artist, made the first sign which is still in existence. When the sign became badly faded, Leslie Gardner asked artist Bailey Phelps, who married Ransom & Mae's granddaughter Deane about the same time that the Gardner’s began running the business, to reproduce the original sign.

During the decades of its operation the Cypress Grill was a landmark on the Roanoke. Celebrities, politicians and visitors by the bus load from far and wide enjoyed the simple fare featuring herring, rockfish stew, stewed potatoes, slaw and hushpuppies and, in later years, the addition of amazing homemade pies. While the food certainly was the star feature, the atmosphere was a close second. The simple, one-layer board-and-batten cypress walls allowed sunlight to peep through the gaps. Just getting to the restaurant and parking was an adventure as the rapidly moving water loomed threateningly at the bottom of the steep “river hill.”

The Cypress Grill was famous enough to make it into Southern Living magazine, Our State magazine, the New York Times, The Splendid Table NPR radio show and many more well-known media.

(Fish Tales Quilt Block image) The Grill recently had been included on the Tar & Roanoke Rivers Quilt Trail with a “Fish Tales” painted quilt block symbolizing the area’s rich heritage.

The Friends are appreciative to Bailey Phelps for his artwork and to Deane Roberson Phelps and her sister, Amy Roberson Hardison, for sharing their family memories for this history card.
Ornaments are on sale from November 1 to December 31
Call 252-792-5243 Today!
1995 1996 1997
Old Courthouse
$20 + S&H
Church Street School
SOLD OUT
City Hall
$15 + S&H
     
1998 1999 2000
Asa Biggs House
$15 + S&H
Log Tobacco Barn
$20 + S&H
Skewarkey Church2003
$15 + S&H
     
2001 2002 2003
Martin County Flag
SOLD OUT
Old Martin County Jail
$15 + S&H
Robersonville Depot
$15 + S&H
     
2004 2004 2005
Williamston High School
$15 + S&H
Robersonville High School
$15 + S&H
St. James Place
$15 + S&H
     
2005 2006 2007
Graball Street
$15 + S&H
A. R. Dunning House
$15 + S&H
The Roanoke River
SOLD OUT
     
2008 2009 2010
Peanut (Stacks) Harvest
$20 + S&H
The Roanoke River at Rainbow Banks
$20 + S&H
Jamesville & Washington Railroad & Lumber Company
$20 + S&H
     
2011 2012 2013
Little Read School House
$20 + S&H
St. Martins Episcopal Church
$20 + S&H
Bear Grass School
$20 + S&H
     
2014 2015 2016
240th Anniversary of
Martin County
$20 + S&H
WWII POW Camp
$25 + S&H
The Wharf
$25 + S&H
     
2017 2018 2019
Swampland Plantation
$25 + S&H
1928 American LaFrance
Williamston Fire Department
$25 + S&H
The Original Cypress Grill
Jamesville, NC 1936-2018
$25 + S&H
     
     
     
  Add $2 for Shipping & Handling

Ornaments are sold from
November 1 thru December 31 of each year

 
     
Friends of the Old Martin County Courthouse
P.O. Box 502  |  East Main Street  |  Williamston, NC 27892  |  252-792-5243
 

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