There's nothing like visiting the oldest family-owned business in the United States with your oldest childhood friend.
Shirley Plantation, situated just east of Richmond along the James River. This plantation is one of a handful still remaining along the James, and it bears the distinction of having been kept in the same family for eleven generations. We figured it would give my friend a good taste of the South before going home to epic snowstorms.
The Hill-Carter family of Shirley Plantation is well-known in Virginia. Prominent figures of their family history include Robert "King" Carter, purportedly richer than the British monarch of his time, and also Henry "Light Horse Harry" Lee, the American Revolutionary War patriot and father to Robert E. Lee. Despite the threat of seizure by Union troops during the Civil War, the house remained in the control of the family and survived the war intact, largely through the cunning of its residents, who pledged to provide nursing and care for wounded Union troops encamped on their property. In return, the house and family received a Federal Safeguard from General McClellan himself in recognition of their humanitarian services. Throughout the remaining years of the war, Union troops stayed on the property to discourage looting or attacks on the family and grounds. Perhaps this safeguard, offered to the extended family of Robert E. Lee himself, is the reason why McClellan lost his job in the months following this event.
|Flying Staircase. Source.|
Various outbuildings on the property are also open to the public: the kitchen, barn, store house, smoke house, etc. The smell of boxwood permeates the air as the James River rolls lazily by. The unseasonably warm weather we enjoyed tempted us to picnic on the lawn, and I could easily understand why people would want to have their wedding hosted here.
Admission is only $11 for adults, and discounts are offered for seniors, past/present military members and their dependents. For those of you looking to visit a quintessential Virginian site, you can't go wrong with Shirley Plantation.