Sherwood Forest Plantation

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John Tyler House (Sherwood Forest)
Sherwood Forest-1961.jpg
Sherwood Forest in 1961, Front Elevation
(photo by United States Department of the Interior)
Sherwood Forest Plantation is located in Virginia
Sherwood Forest Plantation
Nearest city Charles City, Virginia
Coordinates 37°19′29″N 77°1′14″W / 37.32472°N 77.02056°W / 37.32472; -77.02056Coordinates: 37°19′29″N 77°1′14″W / 37.32472°N 77.02056°W / 37.32472; -77.02056
Area 40 acres (16 ha)
Built 1842 (1842)
Architect Unknown
Architectural style Georgian
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference # 66000922[1]
VLR # 018-0021
Significant dates
Added to NRHP October 15, 1966
Designated NHL July 4, 1961[3]
Designated VLR September 9, 1969[2]

Sherwood Forest Plantation, also known as John Tyler House, is located on the north bank of the James River in Charles City County, Virginia. It is located on State Route 5, a scenic byway which runs between the independent cities of Richmond and Williamsburg. The house is located approximately 1.5 miles (2.4 km) from the river.


Sherwood Forest has the distinction of being the only private residence in the United States to have been owned by two unrelated United States Presidents. William Henry Harrison inherited the plantation, then named Walnut Grove, in 1790 and held it for three years. He sold the 3,000 acres (12 km2) property in 1793 having never lived in the house. Harrison's successor John Tyler purchased the plantation, which by then had been reduced to 1,600 acres (6.5 km2), in 1842 and lived there after leaving the White House.[citation needed]

John Tyler renamed the plantation Sherwood Forest in 1842. He said it signified that he had been "outlawed" by the Whig party. He was attracted to the plantation because it was near his birthplace at Greenway Plantation. He retired there when he left the White House in 1845 and spent the rest of his life there with his second wife and some of his children - he had eight with his first wife, and seven with his second wife.

Pearl, the youngest, was born in 1860, when Tyler was 70 years old; she died in 1947.

As regional hostilities in the United States escalated to become the American Civil War in 1861, Tyler backed Virginia's secession, although he died in January 1862. Later that spring, the house was occupied by Union soldiers during McClellan's Peninsula Campaign of 1862 and again during Grant's Overland Campaign in 1864. During the latter, the Battle of Wilson's Wharf was fought nearby. When an Ohio regiment vacated the house in 1864, they attempted to raze it with fire as a punishment for Tyler's support of the Confederacy. The fire was quickly extinguished by a loyal slave and did little damage to the house.[citation needed]

Owners of the house who started restoring it in the mid-20th century started removing some home-made storm windows and then discovered from old records that Tyler had built them himself, so they kept them. One of the house's claims to fame is the length of the house; over 300 feet (91 m). It is also noted for its long, skinny ballroom, a "hyphen" Tyler had added to the house to accommodate the style of dancing popular then - what is today called "line dancing" but was then the "Virginia reel."[citation needed]

The house has been in the Tyler family since it was purchased by president Tyler in 1842. The house is currently owned by Harrison Ruffin Tyler, President Tyler's grandson, and the son of Lyon Gardiner Tyler. It is open to the public for tours.[citation needed]


In 1842 President John Tyler bought "Walnut Grove" from Collier Minge, his cousin and a local planter, and renamed the plantation "Sherwood Forest," as he likened himself to the story of Robin Hood regarding the Whig party. According to the official website,, there is no mention of Harrison's ownership of the plantation. Also factually noted, Harrison died the year before Tyler, who was his Vice President for only one month, purchased the plantation.

William Henry Harrison received a land parcel from his older sister Elizabeth Harrison Rickman Edmondson after her death in 1791. The parcel had been purchased from Thomas Brown by Dr. William Rickman of Millford (now Kittiewan Plantation), Elizabeth's husband before 1781. When William Henry Harrison sold this parcel to his brother Carter Bassett Harrison in the mid-1790s, the parcel was referred to as Brown's Quarter, which was the same name given to the parcel on which some of Sherwood Forest now lies. However, it was simply Brown's land, but not Brown's Quarter, and not part of what is now known as Sherwood Forest.


A pet cemetery is located on the property, where Tyler family pets were buried, most notably, John Tyler's horse, The General.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09. 
  2. ^ "Virginia Landmarks Register". Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Retrieved 5 June 2013. 
  3. ^ "Tyler, John, House". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-06-27. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Sherwood Forest Plantation, Virginia at Wikimedia Commons