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Lynnhaven House

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1724–1725. 1971–1976, restoration. 4405 Wishart Rd. Open to the public
  • Lynnhaven House (Richard Guy Wilson)

Built for Francis Thelabell III and his wife Abigail in the early eighteenth century, the Lynnhaven House is a remarkably well-preserved farmer's dwelling. Its vernacular late medieval design seems to indicate resistance in the lower Tidewater to the academic Georgian manner then emerging in other parts of the colony. The oneand-one-half-story house derives its current name from a nearby branch of the Lynnhaven River. Its construction date has been confirmed by dendrochronological analysis. The house exterior is constructed of brick laid in an English bond with a water table a few feet above ground level and massive end chimneys that rise in several stages. Near symmetry characterizes the southwest or principal elevation. Three bays wide, it has a central door flanked by windows on the first level; however, the three dormer windows in the gabled roof do not align with the openings below them. The northeast, or rear, elevation is asymmetrically balanced, with two dormer windows in the roof and a door and a window unevenly spaced on the first level; the rear door once led to an attached buttery that has been demolished. The conformity of the exterior in virtually every respect to sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English prototypes guided the restoration during the 1970s of the shake roof, the diamondpaned windows, and the wooden exterior stairs.

The interior follows a hall-and-parlor arrangement, with the parlor in the larger of the two spaces. The main entrance opens directly into the parlor, which is lit by front and rear windows and heated by a large hearth. Joiners' chalk marks are still visible in the exposed wooden ceiling, while an L-shaped, closed-string staircase, with most of its original components intact, fills the north corner. On the other side of the first-floor partition, the hall is conveniently ventilated by a window and a door flanking the expansive cooking hearth, a window at the front, and the door to the parlor. Two partitions on the upper level separate the end chambers from the staircase between them.

Just enough of the surrounding forest and open fields of the former Thelabell estate survives to suggest the once-rustic setting. The house is maintained by the APVA and is furnished with period pieces and reproductions.

Writing Credits

Richard Guy Wilson et al.


What's Nearby


Richard Guy Wilson et al., "Lynnhaven House", [Virginia Beach, Virginia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Virginia: Tidewater and Piedmont, Richard Guy Wilson and contributors. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002, 453-454.

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