Prestwould Plantation
*National Register of Historic Places
*National Historic Landmark
429 Prestwould Drive, Clarksville, VA 23927
(434) 374-8672

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Seat of one of the principal Cavalier families of Virginia, Prestwould was built by Sir Peyton Skipwith for himself and his second wife, Lady Jean. Sir Peyton was an American-born Baronet, third in descent from Sir Grey Skipwith, who emigrated from England to Middlesex County, Virginia during the rule of Oliver Cromwell. An avid book collector and amateur botanist, Jean Miller Skipwith, Lady Skipwith assembled one of the largest libraries owned by a Virginia woman early in the 19th century. Prestwould remained in the Skipwith family for four generations into the 20th century.

The house, built of stone quarried on the plantation, was laid out in 1793 and completed in 1795. When built, it was one of the largest and most complex gentry houses in Virginia. Today, the house retains an exceptional degree of its original interior and exterior detail, including three Federal-era porches and distinctly regional Georgian woodwork. Prestwould is also noted for the survival of its exquisite 18th-century English botanical wallpapers and a series of French scenic wallpapers from early in the 19th century. The survival of many original outbuildings -- an office, loom house, smokehouses, plantation store, and a two-family slave house -- makes Prestwould an unusually complete example of life on a great plantation.

The Civil War campaign virtually bypassed Prestwould except for a small number of Union troops, who stopped briefly. During their visit, Mrs. Fulwar Skipwith took to her bed and placed the crested family silver beneath the mattress. The economic realities of the war greatly influenced the demise of acreage in the plantation over the next 50 years.

Much of the American furniture ordered during the construction of the house has been returned as have original examples of early English craftsmanship, and important neoclassical furniture of a second generation.

Contributor: Dr. Julian Hudson, Executive Director of Prestwould Foundation

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