Saturday tour offers up-close look at historic homes, presidential plantations near James River

This weekend provides the opportunity to stand where presidents have stood, and for good measure, to hang out where a former governor still hangs out.

The annual Autumn Pilgrimage House Tours on Saturday in and around Charles City offer an up-close look at presidential plantations, a historic church and the weekend home of former Gov. Douglas Wilder.

Jim Daniels, one of the organizers of the tours, said the highlights of the event vary from one observer to the next.

“It just depends on what people like,” he said. “You’re into architecture? Westover (Plantation) is considered one of the most beautiful Georgian houses in America, and the model for Georgian architecture that you see all over the East Coast. To me, it’s the history — George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, even Benedict Arnold all hung out at Westover. The communion server at the church was used by Washington, Jefferson, John Tyler, William Henry Harrison, even Teddy Roosevelt. There’s a whole lot of connections, and this is where it all happened.”

The tours run from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $40 in advance (until 6 p.m. Friday) and $45 on the day of the event.

The homes and other sites on the tour include:

Berkeley Plantation: Built around 1726. Reported site of the first Thanksgiving, and the ancestral home of presidents William Henry Harrison and Benjamin Harrison.

Sherwood Forest Plantation: The home of President John Tyler. Started in 1660, with additions through 1845.

Shirley Plantation: Virginia’s oldest plantation, settled in 1613, just a few years after Jamestown was founded.

Dogham: Notable for its continuous ownership and occupation by descendants of the same family. Land was granted to Joseph Royall in 1637.

BarnStone: A dairy barn from Bedford, Pennsylvania, that was dismantled, transported and put back together on the present site overlooking the James River.

River Pointe: Weekend home of former Gov. Douglas L. Wilder. A three-level Mediterranean-style house on a bluff overlooking the James River.

Westover Plantation: Built around 1730 and considered one of the best examples of Georgian architecture in America.

Westover Episcopal Church: More than 400 years old and still in regular use. One of the most historic parishes in the nation.

The proceeds from the tours will help fund the church’s support of Meals on Wheels and other local community programs.

Autumn Pilgrimage Home Tours

When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

Where: Historic plantations, homes and buildings in Charles City.

Tickets: $40 in advance (through 6 p.m. Friday at westoverepiscopalchurch.org), or $45 on the day of the event. Tickets can be purchased on site at Sherwood Forest, River Pointe, Westover plantation or church, or BarnStone.

Info: westoverepiscopalchurch.org or 757-561-6430.

Holtzclaw can be reached by phone at 757-928-6479 or on Twitter @mikeholtzclaw.

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