Monday, September 21, 2009
Shirley Plantation- September 21
After attending church with Melissa yesterday,all three of us headed out for the Shirley plantation. This plantation has been family owned and operated for over five centuries- the Carter-Hill family claim they have the oldest family business in America. One member of the eleventh generation still lives on the second floor. Tours of this home started when he was a young boy. And it is a working farm- presently cotton and soy beans are ready for picking out in the fields. It has some interesting history from the Civil War years. A daughter of this family married Robert E.Lee. Shirley Plantation escaped from being pillaged and burned when the Union Army surrounded it because of the compassion of the ladies of the house. When they saw the wounded and hungry Union Army the ladies took action to care for them,which caused General McClellan to issue an order that the plantation was not to be harmed for the duration of the war. Construction began on the Great House in 1723. On entering the home,the first thing which caught my eye was the carved walnut staircase that rises up three stories with no visible signs of support. There were quite a few out-buildings,one of which was a dovecote. Squab,or young pigeons,were a culinary delicacy in the early years of this plantation. I have posted a picture of the dovecote,as well as a 350 year old willow oak( which is located in the back of the great house and overlooks the James River). Also note the picture of the Great House- a carved wooden pineapple sits atop of it, that is a common sign of Southern hospitality.