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Virginia House

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c. 1125, constructed as a monastery. c. 1530, conversion to a manor house. 1925–1926, dismantling and reconstruction, Henry Grant Morse; Charles Gillette, landscape architect. 1944–1946, loggia, William Lawrence Bottomley. 4301 Sulgrave Rd. Open to the public
  • Virginia House

Virginia House was actually begun before the Williamses purchased the house that would become Agecroft Hall. Ambassador Alexander Weddell and his wealthy wife, Virginia, were as avid about antiques and history as the Williamses. On a tour of England in 1925, they heard about a doomed twelfth-century priory. When Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries in the 1530s, Warwick Priory, as it was known, was converted into a manor house. By 1925 it had been engulfed in an industrial neighborhood, and the owners were forced to sell it. The Weddells immediately bought it from a contractor who was planning to use the building materials to erect a factory. Like the Williamses, the Wed-dells faced disapproval in England, and they had the further challenge of tracking down parts of the building that had already been dispersed.

Morse assisted in piecing together the elements in a way that made an elegant house out of a jumble of parts. The house is an impressive stone structure that is frankly a modern American country place. The Weddells had Morse design a wing as an exact reproduction of the south wing of Sulgrave Manor, the ancestral home of George Washington, as another visible connection between the old world and the new. (Mrs. Weddell falsely claimed a family connection to Washington.) The gardens, by Gillette, are spectacular and include several terraces that overlook the James River below. Virginia House is also a museum, and the antiques, tapestries, and art the well-traveled Weddells collected enhance a fascinating setting. The most spectacular room is the vast second-floor library. The Weddells left Virginia House to the Virginia Historical Society, which administers it.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Richard Guy Wilson et al.
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Citation

Richard Guy Wilson et al., "Virginia House", [Richmond, Virginia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/VA-01-RI336.9.

Print Source

Buildings of Virginia: Tidewater and Piedmont, Richard Guy Wilson and contributors. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002, 276-276.

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