Monday, November 1, 2010

Prestwould Plantation. Clarksville, Virginia

And onward to Prestwould Plantation outside of Clarksville, VA (Prestwould is pronounced Prestwood).

We had been there thirteen years ago. At that time, only a front bedroom had been restored and the dining room was in the process of being restored. The third floor was dark and off-limits to tour groups.

Today, what a change from over a decade ago. Cameras aren’t allowed inside the house, but Scalamandre, the wallpaper company, has an interior tour which can be accessed here

From the Library of Congress’ Historic Buildings Survey which was completed in 1959:

Sir Peyton Skipwith VII Baronet moved his family from his “Elm Hill” plantation to the newly completed mansion at “Prestwould” Plantation in 1797. The mansion is situated on land that Sir Peyton inherited from his eldest brother in 1750 and is presently on man-made Buggs Island Lake. Originally the site commanded a view of the Staunton and Dan River junction of the Roanoke River Valley. Prior to the 1797 move Sir Peyton managed affairs at “Prestwould” from the small structure adjacent to the mansion called the office. His wish to build a house is readily seen in a postscript from a letter to Lady Jean dated 6 October 1791, from “Prestwould”: “A house I will have here, I cannot longer bear these separations.”

His dream began to be fulfilled in 1794 when he contracted Jacob Shealor to do the stone work for the exterior walls. Finish carpentry work was completed by John Inge, a local carpenter, whose bill for final payment was presented in 1797. Orders for crown glass, hardware, decorations and wall coverings from England are carefully preserved today in the Sveh Library at the College of William and Mary, Williamsburg; the archives of the Virginia Historical Society, Richmond; and the archives of Colonial Williamsburg.

Sir Peyton's enjoyment of “Prestwould” was short-lived as he passed away in 1805. He left the management of the plantation in the capable hand of his wife Lady Jean who never remarried. She maintained a careful garden book giving excellent account of plantation crops, gardens and plants of the early nineteenth century.

Lady Jean died in 1828 leaving the plantation to her son Humberston who redecorated the house in 1830, installing such as the extant French wallpaper scenes. The house remained in the family until 1913 when Austin Skipwith sold the run-down house to A.J. Goodard. Mr. Goodard worked at great length to restor the house before he sold it to John W. Price of Louisville, Kentucky. In 1947 the original furnishings were dispersed at auction. The land and house were passed from hand to hand until William B. Hill worked through the Roanoke River Museum - Prestwould Foundation to purchase and proved for the preservation of the plantation.


Carolina said...

It seems to be a modest size house for American standards. The bricks however are of a good size. They look BIG. Love the porch. Took the tour and it's a beautiful interior. Very chique ;-)

Anyes said...

There is something about this type of architecture I really love...Great house, Karen

Karen said...

Carolina: Well, it's huge compared to my house. Actually, it's huge compared to most American homes - 7000+ square feet. At the time it was built, it was the largest house in America.

The wallpaper is indeed amazing. All printed by hand and hundreds of dollars per roll if you want some.

Anyes: I love these old houses, too. That's why I'm trying to visit as many as I can in North Carolina and Virginia. I'd say, keep watching this space for more.