Piney Grove at Southall's Plantation
|Nearest city||Holdcroft, Virginia|
|Area||5.2 acres (2.1 ha)|
|Architectural style||Log building|
|NRHP Reference #||85003052|
|Added to NRHP||November 26, 1985|
Piney Grove at Southall's Plantation is a property listed on the National Register of Historic Places in Charles City County, Virginia. The scale and character of the collection of domestic architecture at this site recalls the vernacular architectural traditions of the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries along the James River. These frame structures of the common planters were in contrast to the elaborate brick residences of the wealthiest families along the James River. Piney Grove at Southall's Plantation is located on the high ridge of land to the north of the river, in an area of smaller plantations with more modest homes.
Before English settlement in the seventeenth century, the Southall plantation site in Charles City County was the homeland of the Chickahominy (tribe). The plantation site is located near the Mattahunk village site and the trail known as Necotowance's Path. During the late eighteenth century, the 300-acre (120 ha) plantation was one of the many seats of the Southall family. Other Southall family properties in Charles City County included Mt. Airy, Milton and Vaughn’s. In Henrico County were located the Southall homes of Chatsworth, Reveille, Westham and in Warwick County was located Young’s Island.
The original portion of the Piney Grove house was constructed as a log corn crib on the Southall plantation before 1790. It survives as a rare and well-preserved example of early log architecture in Tidewater Virginia. During the second quarter of the eighteenth century, Furneau Southall served as deputy-sheriff of Charles City County, under Otway Byrd, son of William Byrd III of Westover Plantation. During the American Revolution, Southall served on the Charles City County Committee of Safety (American Revolution) with John Tyler of Greenway, father of President John Tyler of Woodburn and Sherwood Forest Plantation. Southall also held a captainship of one of the Charles City County companies under Benjamin Harrison V of Berkeley Plantation.
Southall administered the first U.S. Census locally in 1790. During the late eighteenth century, residents of the plantation included Furneau Southall, his wife and seven children, as well as sixteen slaves: Amy, Bess, Bristol, Critty, Dick, Dublin, Jack, Kate, Lucky, Nutty, Patsey, Pompy, Peter, Rippons, Rose and Silvia. The personal property tax lists document the plantation furnishings, library, and livestock.
The plantation was held by the Southall family until 1857, when Furneau’s grandson, John Seth Stubblefield sold a portion of the plantation to Edmund Archer Saunders. This portion of the property included the log corn crib, which by 1857 had been converted and enlarged for use as a store. The 1851 addition to the original log structure may have been constructed with timbers re-used from the original plantation house: Original post and beam framing was reused in balloon frame construction. Under Saunder's ownership, the rural general merchandise business became known as Piney Grove Store.
Following the American Civil War, Saunders moved to Richmond and became a successful wholesale grocer. He became a major landowner in Charles City County, purchasing properties such as Indian Fields, Weyanoke and Upper Shirley. A gift of E. A. Saunders, a handsome stone baptismal font, remains in use at Westover Church. A portrait of Saunders hangs in the drawing room of Evelynton Plantation, the home built by his granddaughter Mary Ball Saunders Ruffin and her husband.
Thomas Fletcher Harwood operated Piney Grove Store from 1874 until 1915. In 1905 he enlarged and transformed the store building into a five-bedroom home. During Harwood's ownership, the property also included the office of his son, Dr. Ashton Harwood. The Harwood Family children's cemetery, with elaborate cast-iron fencing produced by the Cincinnati Ironworks, is located on the grounds.
From 1916 until 1984, Piney Grove belonged to the Hughes family. After purchase in 1984, the Gordineer family began the five-year restoration of the house. Original outbuildings include a smokehouse, chicken house, a small pole shed and large pole shed for farm equipment. Hughes family photographs document a large barn, small barn and dairy no longer standing. The archaeological remains of Dr. Harwood's office survive just northwest of the large pole shed.
Piney Grove is now furnished with a collection of antiques and artifacts that chronicle the history of the property, as well as family antiques that descend in the Gordineer family through a Canadian branch of the family, the descendents of Judge Edward Bowen of Quebec, Canada. Bowen portraits include Edward Bowen, Isabella Cassan Bowen and Isabella Bowen Hyndman.
The grounds include a unique collection of folk architecture moved to Piney Grove at Southall's Plantation to be spared from demolition at their original sites. These buildings are Ashland (built 1835 in James City County, Virginia); Dower Quarter (built 1835, Henrico County, Virginia); Ladysmith (built 1857, Caroline County, Virginia); Duck Church (built 1917, Dare County, North Carolina); Pocahontas Tea House Outhouse (built ca. 1930, Henrico County) and Peace Hill Smokehouse (built ca. 1920, Charles City County, Virginia). The grounds also include a reproduction of the Lanexa Farmstand (built ca. 1940, James City County, Virginia).
The complex is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The grounds are open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily, and guided tours of the house are available daily by appointment. Historic bed and breakfast lodging is available in the Ladysmith house on the property. The property is an official site of the Virginia Civil War Trails, Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail, Virginia Time Travelers Program, Jamestown Discovery Trail and National Register "James River Plantations" Travel Itinerary.