November Tea Party Winners: Carrie Fancett Pagels' copy of The Great Lakes Lighthouse Brides Collection - Debbie Curto, Christmas tea - Andrea Stephens, Golden Tea body wash Joy Ellis, lighthouse earrings -- Pegg's SIL from Lake Ann and Perrianne Askew, Pegg Thomas's Leather journal - Shelia Hall, and Writing Prompts book goes to - Connie Porter Saunders

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Virginia's Powhatan Plantation Manor House by Cynthia Howerter

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

While visiting Colonial Williamsburg several days after I'd been to Powhatan Plantation, I stopped dead in my tracks as I approached the Wythe House, located along the Palace Green. The reason the Powhatan Plantation Manor House had looked so familiar to me was that the Wythe House, which I've seen many times during my frequent visits to the eighteenth century town, was nearly identical to it.

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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  1. It is a lovely house, Cynthia. We've had dinner at the resort years ago.
    There are so many stories in this area, and so many fun places to see.

  2. I'm so glad you've visited Powhatan, Janet. I know it's in your neck of the woods. Aren't the paint colors that were used in the rooms just gorgeous?! Thanks for commenting, friend.

  3. Cynthia, both houses are beautiful. Thank you for sharing the pictures.
    Blessings, Tina

  4. You are most welcome, Mrs. Tina! Glad you enjoyed the article and photos! And thank you sooo much for sharing the article on Facebook - you're a gem.


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