Varina Farms

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Varina Plantation
Varina Farms is located in Virginia
Varina Farms
Varina Farms is located in the US
Varina Farms
Location Henrico County, Virginia, USA
Nearest city Varina, Virginia; Hopewell, Virginia
Coordinates 37°22′54″N 77°20′09″W / 37.38167°N 77.33583°W / 37.38167; -77.33583Coordinates: 37°22′54″N 77°20′09″W / 37.38167°N 77.33583°W / 37.38167; -77.33583
Area 820 acres (330 ha)
NRHP reference # 77001489[1]
VLR # 043-0020
Significant dates
Added to NRHP April 29, 1977
Designated VLR September 21, 1976[2]

Varina Farms, also known as Varina Plantation or Varina Farms Plantation or "Varina on the James", is a plantation established by John Rolfe on the James River about 40 miles upstream from the first settlement at Jamestown in the Virginia Colony, and across the river from Sir Thomas Dale's 1611 settlement at Henricus.

In 1612, English colonist John Rolfe introduced the cultivation of a special strain of tobacco for export to England, which was much better-liked by the Europeans than a harsher form which grew naturally in Virginia. As his tobacco became a cash crop for the struggling colony's economy, he established a plantation estate at Varina Farms about 45 miles upstream from the first settlement at Jamestown and across the river from Sir Thomas Dale's 1611 settlement at the progressive community in Henricus. Henricus was developed as a potential replacement for the shortcomings of the Jamestown location.

Varina Farms Plantation was named for a mild variety of the tobacco from Spain which was similar to the non-native strain Rolfe used in developing his successful product. The plantation became the home of Rolfe and his second wife, Rebecca (Pocahontas) whose father was the Powhatan tribe's leader for two years following their marriage in 1614. It was the birthplace of their son, Thomas Rolfe in 1615.

As "Varina Plantation", an 820-acre (330 ha) property was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. At that time it included two contributing buildings and one other contributing sites.[1]

In modern times, Varina Farm (as it is now called) is still actively cultivated as a working farm, and is privately owned. However, the site of the former town of Varina can be seen from Interstate 295 to the east just north of the Varina-Enon Bridge.


There is a common misconception that Varina was named in honor of Varina (née Howell) Davis (1826–1905), who was the wife of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. That could not be possible because Varina Howell was born more than 200 years after Rolfe established Varina Farms in 1614. During the Civil War a man by the name of A.M. Aiken owned the plantation and it was known as Aiken's Landing. However, Mrs. Davis was greatly admired in the Richmond area. It is likely that after the American Civil War, the further and wider use of the name "Varina" locally may be partially attributed to her reputation as the First Lady of the Lost Cause of the Confederacy.


  1. ^ a b National Park Service (2009-03-13). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ "Virginia Landmarks Register". Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Retrieved 5 June 2013.