The James River Plantation site includes information on Charles City County in Virginia. Charles City County was established in 1619 and is the site of some privately owned historic manor houses. It is a rural area that doesn’t even contain a city. Some past residents of this county range from Indians and slaves to settlers and presidents.
The site contains links to five plantations that are open for public view today: Sherwood Forest, Westover, Shirley, Evelynton, and Berkeley. These four plantations remain popular tourist sites in Virginia. Their beauty, history, and tradition draw many to their doors.
Over 300 feet long, Sherwood Forest Plantation is the longest frame house in America. It was once the home of President John Tyler. Originally known as Smith’s Hundred, it was renamed when John Tyler bought it from his cousin and is still owned by the Tyler family today.
Built by the founder of Richmond, William Byrd II, Westover is known for its secret passages, architectural designs, and gardens. Although the grounds and garden are open to the public, the house itself is not. Westover was named for Henry West, son of Governor Thomas West.
Shirley Plantation is Virginia’s first plantation and was built when Elizabeth Hill married John Carter. Established in 1613, it is still a private home and growing business. Shirley Plantation is considered one of the most intact estates in Virginia.
Originally part of Westover Plantation, Evelynton is in possession of the Ruffin family. It was the site of many Civil War battles. Moreover, the original house and outbuildings were burned during the Battle of Evelynton Heights. The current building was erected two generations later and is open for guided tours today. It is also open for some private occasions, such as weddings or other functions.
Berkeley is the oldest three-story brick house in Virginia. Owned by Benjamin and Anne Harrison I, it was built in 1726 and overlooks the James River. In addition, its gardens were dug by hand before the Revolutionary War. Berkeley is also open to public tours.
All five of these plantations contain history and some have passed through historical scenes such as Bacon’s Rebellion, the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and the Great Depression. They have also been the homes of notable historical figures. In addition, they are all located in Charles City County, Virginia, along the James River.
This website is, obviously, a great source for finding information on visiting grand, historical plantation homes. It contains links to all five plantation sites with background information on the building, history, and grounds of the plantations, along with directions, tour schedules, openings, and contact information.
The site also portrays an idea of the architecture and technology of historical times, as well as business and agricultural aspects. Overall, it is a well organized and thought out site that could be very useful to historians and travelers alike.