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Charles City, Virginia   The Glebe of Westover Parish, circa 1732
102+/- Acres
Charles City, Virginia

Built circa 1732 as one of Virginia's 16 original glebes, The Glebe of Westover Parish is one of a small number still standing in the Commonwealth. The three bedroom, three bath house is listed on both the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Historic Landmarks Register. The house sits at the end of a lane flanked by stately old trees, nestled into 102 acres of the state's richest cultivated farmland.

,p> Historic Significance: The Glebe served as the Colonial period parish for Westover Church and was home to clerical residents including William Davis, James Ogilvie and John Dunbar, who allegedly fought a duel in the then parish courtyard. Sewal Chapin was the last minister to live in the house, which was sold to Patrick Hendron in 1807 following an Act of the General Assembly requiring the sale of all Virginia glebes out of church hands and into private ownership. The original Westover Parish was established in 1720 on a different, but nearby parcel with Peter Fontaine, a Huguenot educated at Trinity College in Dublin, installed as its first minister. He also served as chaplain to William Byrd's legendary 1728 expedition to survey the Virginia-North Carolina boundary line. In 1730, the Legislature ordered the property sold and the purchase of a new property nearer the Charles City courthouse. The new glebe lands were purchased in 1732 from Philip Lightfoot and the present house erected shortly thereafter.

Architectural Significance: The 1 1/2-story, five bay brick and slate house, built circa 1732, is instructive for its curious blend of Colonial and Federal architectural features. The plain, nearly rustic simplicity of the original staircase and the mantel treatment in one second floor bedroom is dramatically at odds with the rest of the dwelling's elaborate woodwork and front entrance, all believed to have been added in the early 19th century when the first non-clergy owners added a stunning pyramidal roofed ell to the rear of the house and updated the trim to reflect the more decorative customs of the day. The charming five-bay, 1 1/2-story brick building is set on an English basement and laid in Flemish bond with glazed headers and rubbed-brick corners. Two exterior end chimneys are part of the original structure. An early 19th-century ell projects from the center bay of the rear original wall. It consists of a hyphen with north- and south-facing doors connected to a square single-cell block structure with a hipped roof and an interior end chimney. The ell is also laid in Flemish bond. Both the original structure and the ell have a stepped water table. A 1-story frame wing was added in the early 20th century. The front elevation is distinguished by an elaborate Federal-style front entrance with circular brick steps. A raised panel front door is crowned by an intricate leaded glass elliptical fanlight with feather and flower motifs. Leaded side lights feature a decorative dogwood flower pattern. Multi-member crown molding, wainscoting and opening surrounds with distinctive bulls eye corner block detail complement original heart pine floors, complex mantel designs and unusual Gothic barrel vaulted dormer windows. There are five fireplaces. First floor ceiling height of 10'8" is graced by deep recessed 6'8" windows.

The current owners have lovingly restored original architectural elements and have completed a beautiful renovation of the eat-in kitchen, uncovering original heart pine floors and adding pine counter tops and top-of- the line appliances, perfect for the most demanding chefs. A former screened porch retains its original brick floor but is now transformed as an enclosed mudroom, fully fitted with built-in storage. Formal rooms include living room and dining room, both with fireplaces. There are three bedrooms, including a baronial first floor master suite with fireplace and en suite bath. Two large bedrooms complete the second floor.

Exterior Description: The Glebe sits on 102 private acres, 88 currently under cultivation. A fully functional farming operation, the property has many outbuildings, including a 5-stall horse barn with two tack rooms and hay storage above, several equipment and run-in sheds, two-room chicken house, a farm office and tool shop. Completely fenced for livestock.

The scenic approach is via a 1/4 mile tree-lined lane with rolling fields on either side. Ancient specimen trees dot the front and rear yards. The property is half way between Richmond and Williamsburg just off scenic Route 5 where the delights of Virginia's historic Plantation Country await. The Capitol Trail Bike Path, Upper Shirley Winery and Indian Fields Tavern offer activities, edibles and wonderful outings just moments away.

Lisa Ruffin Harrison
Joyner Fine Properties