Wednesday, December 7, 2016

More pictures of Prestwould Plantation

Here are some more pictures from my visit to Prestwould Plantation in Clarksville, VA.
Here is the mansion itself.  It is made of a light reddish colored sandstone block.  It's interesting to think of the skill and muscle of masons who built the mansion.  The north side of the building faces the drive, and the south side, which looks toward the direction of the river, is the same design. 
The west end of the house also has a porch.
In the 1960's, the Roanoke River (or Staunton--pronounced STANT-en--as it is called in this section) which was about a mile south of this plantation was impounded to create the John Kerr Reservoir.  At the time of the operation of the plantation, the river would have been the means of transporting plantation commodities, such as tobacco, to market.
On the west and northwest sides (and down the hill from the mansion) are several other structures. One is a frame structure which housed slaves.  It started out as a single dwelling, then was made into a duplex to house two families.  Apparently there were other buildings like it in this area of the plantation, but this is the only one that remains.  Built in the 1780's, this building may be one of the oldest of its kinds in the Chesapeake, according to the plantation's registration with the National Park Service.
There were two smoke houses made of stone, one in shambles.

I'm not completely sure about this stone structure which stands on the west side of the mansion.  An "office" is listed amongst the buildings, and perhaps this is the office.  I do know the stone looked warm on a sunny late fall afternoon, and I could imagine sitting against the wall daydreaming.
There was a "loom house," which I thought was an interesting concept.  It also housed slaves upstairs.  Who can imagine all the artistry and skill that was wrought inside that building?  
Here is the kitchen.  I like to imagine what might have been eaten this time of year.  I like to think there were sweet potatoes, collards, cornbread, with some ham for Christmas.  Perhaps there was sorghum molasses and honey for sweeteners.
Here is the little apiary with its straw bee skeps.  I'm supposing this is a replica, and it's a shame it's in such disrepair.  It stands in the garden area to the east of the mansion.  With space for only four skeps, honey would have been a premium commodity I'm thinking.
The garden area is mostly to the east of the house, and this octagonal summer house is situated near the gardens.  I think some romantic novels have the protagonists getting kissed in the summer house.  What do you think--is this a place where one could find a little privacy?
Or is the room below a place where a bully might threaten to banish a younger playmate?  The literature said it was probably a place to store root crops or garden tools.  I'm thinking it might have looked like a dungeon to a kid.  Was an enslaved child who was afraid of spiders and snakes sent here to fetch some root vegetables for the kitchen?
Of course, there were stone walls all around.  I think this is an original finial adorning the front gate.  It is hard to imagine all the work that went into making the walls.
There is lots of history here, but I'm glad to be living with modern freedoms and conveniences myself.



  1. WOW what a thorough tour. I think I enjoy the out buildings about as much as I do the mansions. Yep we too enjoy the modern conveniences.

    There were times in my life I wanted to go as far back in the mts and become a hermit and live off the land, but in reality I knew in three weeks I would be ready to come out. LOL

    I do like to look back and respect those who survived. I know the owners lived good, but life has always been that way. The 'good folk' also made life better for those who served.

    Thanks for the tour, never been there...

  2. You end with "There is lots of history here, but I'm glad to be living with modern freedoms and conveniences myself."

    How can you measure your sense of freedom with that of those who lived here? You can't period in fact they would have likely said the same thing in reference to history themselves. They likely viewed their sense of freedom was certainly living within the modernity of freedoms and conveniences they perceived in their lifetimes.

    1. In comparing freedoms in absolute terms (and not just in one's awareness of them), there is arguably more individual freedom in our society since slavery is now illegal in our country. In terms of whether those living in that time "sensed" the lack of freedom, I think the fact that some slaves tried to escape is a testament to the awareness that more freedom was a prospect.
      In terms of modern conveniences, I have the advantage of looking backward to that time. I like bathroom tissue and current feminine hygiene products. I like traveling in an automobile. I like a pair of stretchy knit pants rather than a cumbersome long skirt. As we like to say, they didn't know what they were missing. (But I do.) Whether or not they "sensed" they were modern is not what I'm referring to.