Virginia was birthplace of four of the first five U.S. presidents. It’s a statistic Virginians are proud of. With a presidential election two months away, it’s a great time to celebrate Virginia’s ties to commanders-in-chief, and our nation’s founding, on the annual Autumn Pilgrimage House Tour in Charles City County.
Head out to scenic Route 5 on Saturday, Sept. 17, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., to take in nine historic structures and experience connections to six U.S. presidents.
George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, the Harrison and Tyler families, and Theodore Roosevelt all worshiped at the 400 hundred year-old Westover Church, which has hosted the tour for four decades.
New to the Tour
Even if you’ve been on the Autumn Pilgrimage House Tour before, this year’s event features five new properties. There’s Belle Air Plantation, one of the oldest surviving frame dwellings in America, and Glenns, a one-of-a-kind home built with only two right angles. You can also experience a historic restoration-in-progress at River Edge, an 18th-century plantation home built in 1790.
The 2016 tour also highlights Lazare Gallery and Wurdeman House, a residence and one of the foremost repositories of paintings from the Moscow School of Russian Realism. Virginia Commonwealth’s Rice Rivers Center will be open, too, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The center is a field station dedicated to environmental research, teaching and public service. It is one of only 20 LEED Platinum-certified buildings in the country.
History for All
Historic Westover Plantation will be showcased on the Autumn Pilgrimage House Tour, too. Built in the 1730s by William Byrd II, Westover is recognized as a premier example of Georgian architecture in America.
Like many of the homes on the Tour, Westover is open to the public a few days a year.
“The Autumn Pilgrimage House Tour welcomes everyone. It’s peppy and fun,” says Andrea Erda who lives at Westover Plantation with her husband, Rob, and three kids under 11.
“Charles City County is part of the Richmond metro area, but it’s a place many people aren’t familiar with,” she says, noting how many people drive on I-64 traveling East and bypass Route 5, which is also a part of Virginia’s Capital Trail.
“The history of this area belongs to everyone,” Erda says, “and this tour is great opportunity to experience a lot of it in a short amount of time.”
You can purchase advance tickets for The Autumn Pilgrimage House Tour online through Sept 16. Boxed lunches can also be reserved.
The tour is a fundraiser to benefit community programs in Charles City County. “Being a small rural community, the Autumn Pilgrimage House Tour is a significant contributor to local social services and outreach,” Erda says.