James Semple House

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James Semple House
Semple House, Francis Street (Williamsburg, Virginia).jpg
James Semple House
James Semple House is located in Virginia
James Semple House
James Semple House is located in the United States
James Semple House
LocationS side of Frances St. between Blair and Walker Sts., Williamsburg, Virginia
Coordinates37°16′12″N 76°41′36″W / 37.27000°N 76.69333°W / 37.27000; -76.69333Coordinates: 37°16′12″N 76°41′36″W / 37.27000°N 76.69333°W / 37.27000; -76.69333
Area1 acre (0.40 ha)
ArchitectThomas Jefferson
Part ofWilliamsburg Historic District (#66000925)
NRHP reference #70000864
VLR #37-0033
Significant dates
Added to NRHPApril 15, 1970[2]
Designated NHLApril 15, 1970[3]
Designated NHLDCPOctober 9, 1960
Designated VLRSeptember 18, 1973[1]

The James Semple House is a historic house on Francis Street in Colonial Williamsburg, Williamsburg, Virginia. Built about 1770, it is a prominent early example of Classical Revival residential architecture, whose design has been attributed to Thomas Jefferson.[4] It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1970.[3][4]

Description and history[edit]

The James Semple House stands in historic Colonial Williamsburg, a short way south of the Capitol on the south side of East Francis Street. It is a wood frame structure, with a central two-story section flanked by single-story wings set at a recess. The central block is covered by a front-facing gabled roof with full pediment, while the wings have side-facing gables. The central block is three bays wide, with a center entrance topped by a transom window and sheltered by a gabled portico. The portico is supported by Doric columns, and has a dentillated pediment and eaves.[4]

The exact date of construction of this house is uncertain, but was probably around 1770. Early owners of the house were the Harrison family, and Benjamin Harrison V sold it sometime before 1769 to Dr. William Pasteur. Surviving documentation suggests that a house may have been standing on the lot when Pasteur acquired it, but it is also possible that Pasteur had the house built after purchasing the land. Its designer is also uncertain, and has been ascribed by some authorities to Thomas Jefferson on the basis of its similarity to other known Jefferson designs. The house was acquired in 1801 by Dr. James Semple. Future U.S. president John Tyler, a relative of the Semples, resided here while attending school. After passing through several other owners, it was purchased by Colonial Williamsburg in 1928.[5]

At the time of its landmark designation in 1970, it was used by Colonial Williamsburg as executive housing.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Virginia Landmarks Register". Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Retrieved 19 March 2013.
  2. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-01-23.
  3. ^ a b "James Semple House". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Archived from the original on 2011-06-06. Retrieved 2008-04-20.
  4. ^ a b c d James Dillon (October 16, 1964). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: James Semple House" (pdf). National Park Service. and Accompanying two photos, exterior, from 1969 (32 KB)
  5. ^ "William Finnie House Historical Report, Block 2 Building 7 Lot 257". Colonial Williamsburg. Retrieved 2017-03-13.

External links[edit]

Media related to James Semple House at Wikimedia Commons