I love visiting historic houses, and was thrilled to spend time at the Powhatan Plantation Manor House near Five Forks in James City County, Virginia - not far from Colonial Williamsburg. As soon as I saw the house, I knew there was something familiar about its appearance, but couldn't put my finger on it.
|Powhatan Plantation House|
The Georgian-style house was built on a large tract of land about 1735 by its owner, Virginia architect and planter Richard Taliaferro (1705-1779), who spent most of his adult life there. Like many eighteenth century houses in Virginia's Tidewater Region, the exterior is made of brick in the Flemish bond style and has a hip roof with symmetrically-placed chimneys on the sides.
|Powhatan Plantation's dining room|
Upon Richard's death, his son and daughter-in-law, Richard, Jr. and Rebecca, inherited the property. They raised their ten children in the manor house and continued running the prosperous plantation. Rebecca survived her husband and lived there until she passed in 1810. Powhatan Plantation was sold at that time.
|A drawing room in the Powhatan Plantation Manor House|
During the Civil War, Union troops under the command of General George McClellan set fire to the house, ruining the interior. The building was restored in 1948.
|Another of Powhatan Plantation Manor House's drawing rooms|
After a bit more research, I learned that Richard Taliaferro designed and built the Wythe House around 1754. A comparison of the front of the houses shows the exterior similarities.
|The Wythe House in Colonial Williamsburg|
|Powhatan Plantation Manor House|
In 1755, Taliaferro's daughter Elizabeth married prominent Virginia lawyer George Wythe (pronounced "with") who was then serving in the House of Burgesses in Williamsburg. (Wythe later went on to sign the Declaration of Independence and helped frame the U.S. Constitution). Taliaferro gave the Williamsburg house to the newlyweds and it's been known as "The Wythe House" ever after.
Richard Taliaferro was described by one of his peers as a "most skillful architect" and was selected to supervise repairs to the Governor's Palace in Williamsburg about 1750.
Today, the Powhatan Plantation Manor House is the centerpiece of "The Historic Powhatan Resort" owned by Diamond Resorts International. It is located at 3601 Ironbound Road, Williamsburg, Virginia.
All photographs ©Cynthia Howerter
Award-winning author Cynthia Howerter loves living amidst Virginia's rich history. She frequently visits historic sites, accompanied by her wonderful husband and trusty camera. She enjoys sharing her photographs in her articles, believing that topics are more interesting when one can see them.
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