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Fancy Hill

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1821; 1840s addition. 3719 S. Lee Hwy., 5.4 miles northeast of Natural Bridge
  • (Photograph by Royster Lyle Jr.)

This is one of a group of impressive, stylish brick houses associated with the Grigsby and Greenlee families dating from the 1820s and 1830s and bearing “Hill” in their original names. In the late nineteenth century, local historians coined the term “Seven Hills” for them—the allusion to Rome was too tempting—but in fact there were and still are more than seven that could be included in the group. Two (see RB33) are selected because of their individual features and because they are easily viewed from the road. Fancy Hill is the largest in the group. Thomas Welch II built it. His marriage to Sarah Grigsby had joined two of the wealthiest families in the area. The house was originally five bays with a single-pile, central-passage plan. The interruption of the molded brick cornice and the fanlit doors on the first and second levels indicate that there was probably a two-story pedimented porch on the facade. A double-pile addition on the west end in the 1840s also has a fanlit door on each level and the molded brick cornice was continued. The most dramatic addition was the two story, Ionic-columned, double-galleried porch, whose pediment originally had a carved garland decoration. Interior woodwork was also updated to Greek Revival, leaving only one older Federal mantel in an upstairs room. In the mid-nineteenth century the house served as a boys' school and a tavern, but had fallen into disrepair by the early twentieth century. When Elmer Knick bought the house in the 1930s, he intended to tear it down, but was persuaded by local preservationists to save it, which he did with the help of advisors from Colonial Williamsburg. He also added a modern wing to the west and closed in the rear porch.

Writing Credits

Anne Carter Lee


What's Nearby


Anne Carter Lee, "Fancy Hill", [Glasgow, Virginia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Virginia vol 2

Buildings of Virginia: Valley, Piedmont, Southside, and Southwest, Anne Carter Lee and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2015, 134-134.

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