Berkeley, on the James River between Williamsburg and Richmond, is the birthplace of a signer of the Declaration of Independence and a U.S. President.
Benjamin Harrison, son of the builder of Berkeley and the plantation's second owner, was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and three-time Governor of Virginia.
William Henry Harrison, Benjamin's third son, born at Berkeley, was the famous Indian fighter known as "Tippecanoe," who later became the ninth President of the United States, in 1841. His grandson, Benjamin Harrison, was the 23rd President.
On December 4, 1619, early settlers from England came ashore at Berkeley and observed the first official Thanksgiving in America.
At Berkeley the date of the building, 1726, and the initials of the owners, Benjamin Harrison IV and his wife, Anne, appear in a datestone over a side door. The early Georgian mansion is said to be the oldest 3-story brick house in Virginia that can prove its date and the first with a pediment roof.
The original mansion, built in 1726 of brick fired on the plantation, occupies a beautifully landscaped hilltop site overlooking the historic James River.
The handsome Adam woodwork and the double arches of the "Great Rooms" in the mansion were installed by Benjamin Harrison VI in 1790 at the direction of Thomas Jefferson. The rooms in Berkeley are furnished with a magnificent collection of eighteenth century antiques.
Good Housekeeping magazine suggests: "If you only have time for one plantation, Berkeley should be at the top of your list." Says U.S. Sen. Charles Robb: "If you haven't been to Berkeley, you haven't lived."
Berkeley's ten acres of formal terraced boxwood gardens and lawn extend a quarter-mile from the front door to the James River. In the basement, the original hand-hewn floor joists are visible. The basement also displays models of early plantation buildings.
George Washington, and later the succeeding nine Presidents of the United States, all enjoyed the famous hospitality of Berkeley in this dining room with its view of the James River.In that same tradition, the highly acclaimed Coach House Tavern is open daily for refreshments and traditional colonial dining. Group reservations are suggested. Call 804/829-6003.
Berkeley Plantation is located 18 miles west of Williamsburg and 35 miles east of Richmond on Virginia Route 5, The John Tyler Memorial Highway. The Plantation is three miles east of the Charles City County Courthouse.
Open to the public seven days a week, 8 a m. to 5 p.m.
Berkely Plantation WebSite
For information, please call or write:
12602 Harrison Landing Rd.
Charles City, VA 23030
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