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Three Otters

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c. 1830. VA 838, 0.5 miles west of VA 43, 1.6 miles northwest of Bedford
  • (Virginia Department of Historic Resources)

During the mid-nineteenth century, the most elaborate and stylish Greek Revival houses in Bedford County were built by merchants. Abel B. Nichols, a merchant from Bridgeport, Connecticut, who settled in Bedford in 1820, led the parade of architectural fashion with Three Otters. More elaborate than the typical Greek Revival of the Piedmont, many of the house's details were taken from Asher Benjamin's The Practical House Carpenter (1830). Almost square, the five-bay, two-story brick house has a low, hipped roof above a Doric entablature. Most of what would be metopes in an entablature are here single-pane windows that light the attic and ventilate the house. Stuccoed panels fill the areas between the first- and second-story windows. A one-bay portico with coupled Doric columns and a balcony marks the entrance. The original two-story kitchen and pantry connects via a covered brick walkway to a two-story wing. In the front yard is a brick well house with a Greek Revival cupola. Nichols's house became a local social center with the added draw of a race track.

Writing Credits

Anne Carter Lee


What's Nearby


Anne Carter Lee, "Three Otters", [Bedford, Virginia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

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