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Hobson's Choice

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1790s; c. 1860 addition. 3500 block of VA 606
  • (Virginia Department of Historic Resources)

The house at Hobson's Choice, one of Brunswick's few early domestic structures in brick, is as curious as its name. A Hobson's choice is, by definition, the only thing offered. The place's original owner, Dr. Richard Feild, a prominent doctor and editor of a Petersburg newspaper, acquired the land from his father-in-law, who apparently did not allow him to select his own tract. Feild's late Georgian house is a local version of the more sophisticated three-part and five-part Palladian houses illustrated in Robert Morris's Select Architecture (1755). The initial section of the house, with wings connected to the central block by hyphens, is similar in plan to Petersburg's Battersea (DW44) but is much plainer and more countrified in execution. Most notably, the central block is one story instead of two, and the gable-end wings have front as well as rear interior chimneys. Its odd-ness is further heightened by the c. 1860 brick addition on the left and by the twentieth-century Craftsman-style porch across the facade of the central block. The whole looks more like a picturesque aggregate of brick cottages than a high-style manor. The surviving outbuildings include a smokehouse, tobacco barn, tobacco stripping house, corncrib, and log and frame stable.

Writing Credits

Anne Carter Lee

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