Evelynton is the paramount example of the twentieth-century revival of the James River plantation house. The house was commissioned by Mr. and Mrs. John Augustine Ruffin, Jr., for a site originally owned by the Byrd family of nearby Westover. Ruffin's family, which had owned the property since 1847, had fallen on hard times. He married a wealthy Richmond heiress, Mary Ball Saunders, who decided to replace an earlier house and hired Richmond architect W. Duncan Lee. In addition to designing many Richmond houses and buildings, Lee had directed the enlargement and restoration of Carter's Grove, had worked on Westover, and was a member of the architectural advisory board at Colonial Williamsburg. From these and other sources, such as Henry Chandler Forman's Early Manor and Plantation Houses of Maryland (1937), Lee concocted a formidable design.
The house is built of old brick laid in Flemish bond, the brickwork similar to that of the stable and caretaker's cottage at Carter's Grove. Located on Herring Creek, which empties into the James River, the house is on a north-south axis with the land approach from the north,