Lynchburg: The Pleasures of Virginia’s Southern Piedmont



April 11 – 14, 2013

Lynchburg, Virginia, a tobacco capital founded in 1786, was one of the wealthiest cities in the South before the Civil War.  Today it is rich in early Federal homes and great 19th century mansions with charming rooms and gardens.  From Lynchburg we will travel south to rarely seen plantation houses with important interiors and collections. We will go north to the historic campus of Washington and Lee University to visit The Reeves Center of Chinese export porcelain and to view Natural Bridge. We will head west to Thomas Jefferson’s villa retreat, Poplar Forest. And, with an abundance of private houses to see, we will enjoy the essence of Southern hospitality.


ITINERARY  (subject to amendment)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

  • Reception
  • Welcome
    Randy Schrimsher, Trust President
  • Cultural Hegemony and the Arts in Antebellum Virginia: the Bruce Family Plantations in the Southside
    Clifton Ellis, PhD, Associate Dean of Academics, Elizabeth Sasser Professor of Architectural History, College of Architecture, Texas Tech University
  • Adjourn. Dinner on own.

Friday, April 12

  • The John A. H. Sweeney Lecture
    Halifax Bureaus and Other Regional Furniture
    Daniel K. Ackermann, Associate Curator, The MESDA Collection
  • Coffee break
  • The Jonathan L. Fairbanks Lecture
    Restoring the Lost Private Villa of Thomas Jefferson
    Travis McDonald, Director of Architectural Restoration, Poplar Forest
  • Landscapes and Ceramics: Thomas Jefferson’s Aesthetic Philosophy for Poplar Forest
    Jack Gary, Director of Archaeology and Landscapes, Poplar Forest
  • Lunch
  • Depart by motor coach for Poplar Forest
  • Return to Lynchburg by way of Locust Grove, an early private home
  • Drinks at Melanie and Lynch Christian’s Oak Park
  • Arrive Holiday Inn, Lynchburg.
  • Dinner on own.

Saturday, April 13

  • Depart Holiday Inn Lynchburg on motor coach
  • Arrive at Berry Hill, circa 1842-1844, South Boston vicinity
  • This monumental Greek Revival mansion was erected for tobacco planter James Coles Bruce, son of James Bruce, a Halifax County planter and entrepreneur. The house was designed by John E. Johnson, a West Point graduate who also designed the Gothic Revival mansion Staunton Hill for James Coles Bruce’s half-brother Charles. The construction was undertaken by Josiah Dabbs. Bruce family tradition holds that James Coles Bruce was inspired to build a temple-form house after a stay in Philadelphia where he saw Nicholas Biddle’s home, Andalusia. Fronted by a heroic octa-style Doric portico reminiscent of the Parthenon, the house is flanked by small porticoed dependencies, creating an exceptionally dramatic as well as romantic composition.
  • No less impressive is the spacious interior with its grand divided stair that curves to meet in a single flight. Richly decorated plaster ceilings and carved marble mantels adorn the reception rooms. A colonnaded service wing projects from the rear of the house.
  • Depart Berry Hill with lunch on board and travel to Prestwould
  • Arrive at Prestwould, circa 1795, Mecklenburg County. Lecture and tour by Dr. Julian Hudson, Executive Director.
  • 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. 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. A National Historic Landmark, 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 makes Prestwould an unusually complete example of life on a great plantation. The library of Lady Jean Skipwith was among the largest assembled by a woman in 18th-century America.
  • Lady Jean’s garden records are among the earliest recorded listings of native American plantings. The formal plan of the garden is accented by the original octagonal summer house.
  • Depart Prestwould and travel to Spring Bank in Lunenburg Courthouse
  • Arrive at Spring Bank, circa 1793, Lunenburg County.
  • Bishop John Stark Ravenscroft commissioned carpenter John Inge and Stonemason Jacob Shelor to build Spring Bank in 1793 on 300 acres gifted to Ravencroft’s wife, Ann Spotswood Burwell, on the occasion of their marriage. Spring Bank is a five-bay, two-story, frame dwelling with a raised limestone foundation and two stone chimneys flanking the central block of the house. Its five-part Palldian design distinguishes it from other rural dwellings of this period.
  • Depart Spring Bank and travel to Flatrock, Kenbridge, VA
  • Arrive at Flatrock, circa 1797, Lunenburg County Tours, drinks and a country supper
  • The initial Flatrock Plantation house, with its commanding presence on the land, was first constructed in 1797 for the daughters of nearby plantation owner Reverend James Craig as a fairly simple story and a half parlor-side hall structure to include a large bedroom and loft. It was subsequently enlarged significantly in both1820 and again in1856, while retaining the original essence of a federal style farmhouse. That said, however, there were several distinctive changes such as the addition of two rather massive Jacobean octagonal chimney stacks in the 1850s to accommodate the seven fireplaces then in place and probably to impress the neighbors. A very early smokehouse is still functioning as well as a granite-lined ice house that has been adapted to use in the very basic family wine making effort.
  • Depart Flatrock
  • Arrive Holiday Inn, Lynchburg

Sunday, April 14

  • The Fortunes of Southern Virginia:  Tobacco Rediscovered
    Susan Kern, Lyon G. Tyler Department of History & NIAHD, College of William and Mary
  • Gone with the Wind or Not: Life in Lynchburg During the Civil War
    Greg Starbuck, Executive Director, Historic Sandusky
  • Closing remarks. Symposium ends


Thursday Optional Tour: The Reeves Center for Chinese Export Porcelain

Thursday, April 11

The Reeves Center displays Washington and Lee University’s ceramics collection, which includes ceramics from Asia, Europe, and America, and is especially rich in Chinese export porcelain made for the American and European markets between 1600 and 1900. The Reeves Center is located in an 1842 house and in the Watson Pavilion on the historic campus of Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. In addition to the ceramics collection, the Reeves Center houses the paintings of Louise Herreshoff Reeves (1876-1967) from Providence, RI.

  • Depart on motor coach for Lexington, VA
  • Welcome to Washington and Lee University
  • The Reeves Collection’s Chinese Export Porcelain for the American Market
    Ron Fuchs, Curator of The Reeves Collection
  • The 600 Coffee Cups in the David Sanctuary Howard Collection: A Microcosm of 18th-Century Social History
    Angela Howard, Director, Heirloom and Howard, Wiltshire, England
  • Lunch and walk through historic W. & L. campus
  • Tours of Reeves Center, Lee Chapel and the W&L art collection
  • Depart on motor coach. Return to Lynchburg by way of Natural Bridge.
  • Arrive at Holiday Inn, Lynchburg, VA

Sunday Optional Tour: The new Museum of the Confederacy at Appomattox and Private Lynchburg Collections

April 14

  • Depart by motor coach for Appomattox with box lunch on board, to visit the Museum of the Confederacy at Appomattox, opened in March 2012. “Appomattox” is one of a few place names that is not only shorthand for an historic event—the surrender of General R. E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia and the effective end of the Confederate States of America—but also a metaphor for the end of the war and for a new beginning as a reunified nation. Collections include the frock coat Robert E. Lee wore when he dressed with “more than usual care” to meet with Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox on Palm Sunday, April 9, 1865. His dress sword is also displayed. Made by Devisme in Paris, France, it is inscribed: Aide toi et dieu t’aidera (“Help yourself and god will help you”) and is often referred to as the “Appomattox sword.” We will visit the Surrender House where Lee met with Grant in the nearby village of Appomattox Court House, as county seats were often referred to in Virginia. The surrender meeting actually took place in a private home, that of Wilmer McLean.
  • Depart for a cross-country drive to a private collection. “Blenheim,” an early 19th century home, is known for its wealth of elaborate woodwork credited to skilled regional craftsmen. This collection includes an abundance of regional furniture. Continue back to Lynchburg to visit the Bowling Eldridge House, c. 1820, carefully restored with wonderful wallpaper.
  • Trust members, in small groups, will arrive at private homes in Lynchburg for a Sunday supper with gracious members of the community who share our interests. We will return to our hotel by eight.

Holiday Inn Lynchburg
601 Main Street
Lynchburg, Virginia 24504
Fax 434-528-4782

Cost: Double or Single Room $95.00

The Trust has reserved rooms from Wednesday, April 10, to Monday, April 15, 2013. These rooms and the special rate will be held by the hotel until March 28, 2013.


By Car:
From Rt 29 South, take Exit 1 (Main Street). Left onto Main Street. Hotel 8 blocks on left. From Rt 29 North, take Exit 1A (Main Street). Right onto Main Street. Hotel 8 blocks on left.


  • Lynchburg Regional Airport (LYH)
    Distance: 8.0 miles NORTH to Hotel
    Route US 29 North to Exit 1A DOWNTOWN; Right on Main (one way); 8 blocks; Hotel on the left.
  • Roanoke Regional Airport (ROA)
    Distance: 50.0 miles NORTH EAST to Hotel
    Route US 460 West to US 29 North; Exit 1 DOWNTOWN; Right on Mail Street (one way); hotel on the left.
  • Charlottesville Albermarle Airport (CHO)
    Distance: 70.0 miles NORTH EAST to Hotel
    Route US 29 South to Exit 1 Downtown; left on Main Street; Hotel on the left.


Note: Available from New York via Charlottesville, VA, to Lynchburg without changing trains.
Station Name: Kemper Street Station
1.0 MI SOUTH to Hotel
Complimentary Shuttle Available from Holiday Inn
Taxi Charge (one way): $10.00

Left on Main Street. Left on 5th Street. Left on Park Avenue. Hotel is 1 Mile on right.

Taxi Service:

City Cab Company (434) 846-0231
Gray Top Cab Incorporated (434) 845-4554
Allied Cabs – (434) 845-7039


Join our mailing list to receive the latest news, tour and symposium announcements from the Decorative Arts Trust.

Thank you for subscribing!


Join our mailing list to receive the latest news, tour and symposium announcements from the Decorative Arts Trust.

You have Successfully Subscribed!