Skip to Main Content

Roanoke College Builders

Peyton Lewis


Peyton Lewis, his brother Charles, and Baldwin Simms are three of the enslaved people whose work on the construction of the Roanoke College Administration building is documented as of 2021. The Lewis brothers were master brick makers and masons. Less is known about Baldwin Simms. These, three along with John Cousins, a free African American man who did plasterwork, began construction on the building in 1848. Construction was completed in 1854.  We know Peyton and Charles Lewis were purchased in Richmond in 1830 because the Deyerle family needed expert brick masons and makers to expand their construction business. 

Rev. Peyton Lewis

Reverend Peyton Lewis shown above is Charles Lewis's son, who helped build the administration along with his brother Peyton. He is Peyton Lewis's (the elder) nephew. 

                                      Works Cited

Pulice, Michael J. Nineteenth-Century Brick Architecture in the Roanoke Valley and beyond: Discovering the True Legacies of the Deyerle Builders. Historical Society of Western Virginia; Blackwell Press, 2011. 

Fred P. Fisher, "Reverend P.M. Lewis, Born a Slave in Virginia, Passes his 85th Birthday."Waterloo, Iowa: Waterloo Daily Courier, March 8, 1934. 



Charles Lewis