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Virginia’s Oldest Plantation

By Linda Tancs

Shirley Plantation has survived Indian uprisings, Bacon’s Rebellion, the American Revolution, the American Civil War, and the Great Depression. In the hands of 11 generations of the same family, it’s Virginia’s first plantation and the oldest family-owned business in North America. A National Historic Landmark, it remains a working plantation, a private family home and a growing business, presided over by direct descendants of Edward Hill I, who founded the site in 1613. Lauded as the most intact 18th century estate in Virginia, the Great House is a treasure trove of original family furnishings, portraits, silver, and hand-carved woodwork, and its “flying staircase” and Queen Anne forecourt are the only remaining examples in North America of this architectural style. In addition to a guided tour of the mansion, the self-guided grounds tour includes formal gardens and eight original colonial outbuildings. This unique part of America’s heritage is located in Charles City, east of Richmond and west of Jamestown in the heart of Virginia.

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