Scotchtown (plantation)

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Patrick Henry's Scotchtown
Scotchtown (Hanover County, Virginia).jpg
Scotchtown Plantation
Scotchtown (plantation) is located in Virginia
Scotchtown (plantation)
Scotchtown (plantation) is located in the US
Scotchtown (plantation)
Location 10 mi. NW of Ashland on VA 685, Ashland, Virginia
Coordinates 37°50′39.7″N 77°35′4.4″W / 37.844361°N 77.584556°W / 37.844361; -77.584556Coordinates: 37°50′39.7″N 77°35′4.4″W / 37.844361°N 77.584556°W / 37.844361; -77.584556
Area 41 acres (170,000 m2)[1]
Built after 1717, expanded ca. 1760s
Architectural style Georgian/first period colonial
NRHP Reference # 66000835
VLR # 042-0030
Significant dates
Added to NRHP October 15, 1966[3]
Designated NHL December 21, 1965[4]
Designated VLR September 9, 1969[2]

Scotchtown is a plantation located in Hanover County, Virginia, that from 1771-1778 was owned and used as a residence by Patrick Henry, his wife Sarah and their children. He was a revolutionary and elected in 1778 as the first Governor of Virginia. The house is located in Beaverdam, Virginia, 10 miles (16 km) northwest of Ashland, Virginia on VA 685.[1] The house, at 93 feet (28 m) by 35 feet (11 m), is one of the largest 18th-century homes to survive in the Americas. In its present configuration, it has eight substantial rooms on the first floor surrounding a central passage, with a full attic above and English basement with windows below.[1] It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1965.[4]

The house is owned and managed by Preservation Virginia, which operates a number of other historic properties across the Commonwealth, including the John Marshall House, the Old Cape Henry Lighthouse, Bacon's Castle, and Historic Jamestowne.


The Scotchtown property was given as a land grant to Charles Chiswell, a prominent planter and iron mine owner, in 1717. Chiswell built a small house on the property, probably in the 1720s. It was expanded to its present size around 1760.[5] It was first given the name "Scotch Town" in a 1757 deed of sale. At this time the house also was used as a store that bought and sold local tobacco.[6]

Patrick Henry purchased the house in 1771 and lived there with his wife, Sarah Shelton Henry, and their six children. This was his home during his most influential period, including his famous "Give Me Liberty, or Give Me Death!" speech at St. John's Episcopal Church in Richmond, Virginia. It was also his residence when he was elected Governor of Virginia in 1776. His wife Sarah, who suffered from mental illness, died at the site in 1775.[1][6] He resided at Scotchtown until 1777. That year he married his second wife and in 1778 they relocated, after his election, to the Governor's Palace in Williamsburg.

Beginning in 1801, the property was owned by the Sheppard/Taylor family. In 1958 it was purchased by Preservation Virginia (formerly known as the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities). Little is known about the Sheppard-Taylor family, other than the changes they made to the appearance of the house over the generations.[6]

Scotchtown was long believed to have been the girlhood home of Dolley Madison, wife of president James Madison, who was a relative of Patrick Henry. But, there is little evidence beyond Madison's own recollections of the house as a child to support this fact. Dolley Madison's recollections may have been memories of visits to the house during her childhood.[6]


The property was sold at auction in 1957, when it was purchased by Preservation Virginia for $17,000. Extensive archaeological work has taken place in the decades following. A number of projects have restored the house to its late 18th-century appearance, including rebuilding outbuildings such as the icehouse, kitchen, and law office.[6]

Scotchtown was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1965 as an unusual 18th-century structure associated with a Founding Father.[1][4] The property received a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services in 1993 to "reexamine its policies, procedures, and the current condition of its collection and structures,"[6] including restructuring its programming. It is currently open for visitors seasonally or by appointment.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Stephen Lissandrello (February 12, 1975). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: Scotchtown / Patrick Henry Home (Scotchtown)" (pdf). National Park Service.  (includes a map of the property)
  2. ^ "Virginia Landmarks Register". Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Retrieved 5 June 2013. 
  3. ^ National Park Service (2007-01-23). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  4. ^ a b c "Scotchtown (Patrick Henry House)". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-04-11. 
  5. ^ Bryan Clark Green and Bryan Townes (February 2009). "Historic Structure Report for Scotchtown". Commonwealth Architects. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Dean, Catherine. "History of Scotchtown". Preservation Virginia. Retrieved 13 June 2011. 

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