Rosewell is our third and final Virginia plantation. Located across the York River from Williamsburg, Rosewell was built from 1726 through 1737 by the Page family, who held on to it for more than 100 years. Thomas Jefferson wrote a rough draft of the Declaration of Independence there. Yet perhaps no other plantation has had the fall from grace as did Rosewell. From the largest and finest home of its day, where it hosted balls and became the center of horse racing, it later was stripped of everything of value and remained a ghostly ruin. It was all but abandoned in the 1830s, enjoyed some resurrgence in the 1850s but never recovered from the Civil War.The final indignity came in 1916 when a fire lasting two weeks consumed all but the shell. The 1891, 1900 and undated photos show Rosewell in decline.



Categories: Rosewell | Leave a comment

Rosewell Today

Compare the ghostly photo dated 1935 with the current one showing it’s use for various social occasions.



Categories: Rosewell | Leave a comment


Also located near Williamsburg, Westover, like Carter’s Grove , is considered to be one of the finest examples of Georgian architecture in the country. However, their two histories cound not have been more different. Westover has enjoyed a stable and continuous ownership with few structural changes. It was originally thought to have been built in 1730 by Wm. Byrd II, but recent tree ring dating on boards from the house put construction at ca 1750 and, therefore, it was built by Wm. Byrd III. Westover was occupied by Union troops during the Civil War as can be seen in the 1862 photo. During the war, Confederate cannon fire missed Union troops and destroyed the east dependency  with its 4,000 books.  People enjoyed the river view from the front door as seen in the 1897 photo.Two years later Westover was modernized by a Byrd decendent who joined the west and rebuilt the east dependencies. Notice how similar Westover looks in  the 1903 photo and the current one. Click all photos to enlarge.

westover (1)westovermainhouse_500WestDrwy1897WestDrwayNowWestEaWestEastwest1903WestRodNasbie

Categories: Westover | Leave a comment

Carter’s Grove

Located on the James River a few miles southeast of Williamsburg, Carter’s Grove sits on 476 acres. Construction of the 18,700 square foot home started in 1738 and took fifteen years to complete.It was built by Carter Burwell, who died one year after moving in, a foreshadowing of what was to be a tumultuous history.Major changes ocurred to the home in 1879 with the addition of elaborate porches to the river and land sides of the house. In the early 1900s the dependences were joined  to the house and, shortly after that,  it began to fall into disrepair by absentee owners. It was saved by the McCrea family who , in 1928, made major changes to the dependencies, raised the roof seven feet and removed the porches.  It was purchased by Colonial Williamsburg in 1964. The first photo is from the  early 1900s, the third is undated, and the fifth is from the 1920s.


Categories: Carter's Grove | Leave a comment

Carter’s Grove–More Changes

In 1976 evidence of a small settlement wiped out in the 1622 Massacre was discovered on the front lawn near the river. This settlement conflicted with Colonial Williamsburg’s emphasis on the 18th century, but they tried to accomodate with a partial reconstruction of the settlement’s fort (see first picture below). At the same time they reconstructed slave quarters from the 18th century and added an underground archaeology museum. The purpose was to showcase 400 years of occupation of the site, but it all  closed in 2003. Also that year, Carters Grove played the role of a South Carolina cotton plantation and military hospital in the movie Cold Mountain (second picture; click to enlarge).


Categories: Carter's Grove | Leave a comment

Carter’s Grove–The Future

In 2007  Carter’s Grove was sold, but the buyer defaulted and the home again suffered from neglect. Major repairs were done in 2014, and the property sold later that year to promising new owners.


Categories: Carter's Grove | 1 Comment

Garden of the Gods–Balanced Rock

Garden of the Gods is a public park in Colorado Springs. It was private property until 1909 when the land was donated to the city. At 1,367 acres it is four times the size of Central Park and took a lot longer t0 build-300,000,000 years to be exact. Balanced Rock is the most frequently photographed formation in the park. It weighs 700 tons but is cemented in place following many attempts to topple it. While still private property, there was a photo concession, which also supplied burros. The burro on the left in the 1910 picture seems to be the same as the one in the second, undated photo. Click to enlarge.


Categories: Garden of the Gods | Tags: | Leave a comment

Balanced Rock and Steamboat Rock

Also while Garden of the Gods was privately owned,  Steamboart Rock had an observatory which, of course, charged a fee to enter. Both concessions were removed as were many buildings when the land became a public park. The first photo is dated 1910 and the second is undated. ca1910withobserBalStUndadteBalSteamNow

Categories: Garden of the Gods | Leave a comment

Cathedral Spires

Cathedral Spires is another frequently photographed formation. The first photo is dated 1885 and the second shows an Easter serivce in the 1930’s.


Categories: Garden of the Gods | Leave a comment

Bow Bridge

Bow Bridge was built in 1862 and is the second oldest cast iron bridge in America. The photo is dated ca. 1865. The cast iron urns disappeared in the 1920s but have recently been replaced with exact replicas.


Categories: Central Park | Leave a comment