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Smith's Fort Plantation

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c. 1605, c. 1750. VA 31, south side of the James River opposite Jamestown Island, 3 miles south of the ferry landing. Open to the public in season

Smith's Fort Plantation consists of an eighteenth-century brick house and the remnants of an earthwork constructed in the seventeenth century by John Smith as a refuge for the Jamestown settlers in case of an enemy attack. The fort, begun in 1606, was only half finished when the settlers abandoned the project because they found their supplies at the fort ravaged by rot and rats. Remnants of Smith's earthworks are in the woods behind the house. Archaeological investigations conducted in 1981 indicated that the fort was a simple earth construction, without palisades.

In 1614 Chief Powhatan gave the land to John Rolfe, husband of Pocahontas, but Rolfe probably never settled on the land. Eventually (c. 1680) the site of the fort was incorporated into the plantation of Thomas Warren. From this succession of owners the house on the property became known as the Rolfe-Warren House, but architectural evidence indicates its date as 1750–1775, with an addition built c. 1790 when it was the home of Jacob Faulcon. The house will be familiar to visitors, since its form has inspired numerous “colonial” reproductions. The five-bay brick house has a raised basement level with access through a bulkhead entrance. Three dormers were added later to light the attic space. There are two interior end chimneys with stepped brick copings. The Williamsburg Holding Company, John D. Rockefeller's forerunner to the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, purchased the property in 1928 and in 1934 gave it to the APVA, which has restored the house. The Garden Club of Virginia replanted the gardens.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Richard Guy Wilson et al.
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Citation

Richard Guy Wilson et al., "Smith's Fort Plantation", [Surry, Virginia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/VA-01-ST21.

Print Source

Buildings of Virginia: Tidewater and Piedmont, Richard Guy Wilson and contributors. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002, 476-476.

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