Virginia's Hidden Gems

You can't enter Virginia without tripping over a vineyard, a historic home, or a stunning scenery. However, Virginia usually gets overshadowed by its infamous neighbor. Today, we're going to be bringing the spotlight back to the state for lovers! Fun fact: Did you know the state motto used to be "Virginia is for history lovers"? 

1. Westover Plantation - Charles City

This stunning Georgian home is regarded as one of the most beautiful plantations in Virginia. It sits on the north bank of the James River in Charles City. The home was built in the 1730's and was originally occupied by the Byrd family. Willam Byrd II is thought to be the original builder. William was the founder of Richmond, VA. 

The plantation focused on the areas largest commodity, tobacco. During the Civil War, this home was used as Union headquarters. The home remained in the family until the early 20th century. Today, the home is open to the public where you can explore secret passages, gardens, and the beautiful symmetry of the Georgian style mansion. 

2. Stabler-Leadbetter Apothecary - Alexandria


Tucked into bustling downtown Alexandria sits the Stabler-Leadbetter Apothecary, one of America's oldest pharmacies. This business was founded in 1792 and was in business until the 1930's when the Great Depression forced this shop to go out of business. 

This shop sold to many of the people we read in our history books today. Some faithful customers included Martha and George Washington, Robert E. Lee, and James Monroe. Almost immediately after its closing it was re-opened to the public as a museum in 1939. You can see thousands of artifacts in the museum. The first floor has remained virtually untouched since 1933. 

3. Stratford Hall - Westmoreland County

Stratford Hall is like Westover Plantation in many ways. Both started construction in the 1730's, are Georgian style, and were constructed by prominent families. Stratford Hall was the brainchild of Colonial Thomas Lee who saw the potential in a waterfront property. It was owned by four generations of Lee families. 

It was the home to two signers of the Declaration of Independence, Richard Henry Lee and Francis Lightfoot Lee. It was also the birthplace of Robert E. Lee. The home was designated as a historic landmark in 1960. Today, the home is used for many festivals and events. 

4. The Raven Room - Charlottesville


The Raven Room is the perfect destination for a poetry lover. This room is located on the University of Virginia's campus and was the old dorm room of Edgar Allen Poe for his lone year at UVA in 1826. It has been preserved through the years by the Raven Society. 

It has been restored to its Poe-era condition in 1924. Visitors can view the room through a glass door and includes items from Poe's home including a writing desk, a quill, and of course, a stuffed Raven. 

5. Barboursville Ruins - Barboursville

Barboursville Mansion was owned by James Barbour the former U.S. Senator, U.S. Secretary of War, and Virginia Governor. The home was designed by his friend, Thomas Jefferson. The home is designed in the Neo-Palladian style and was built in 1822. The home had many features that were incorporated into Jefferson's own home of Monticello. 

The home has a sad ending and was burned down Christmas day in 1884. The ruins have remained intact as a tourist destination and are now part of the Barboursville Winery. You can explore the ruins on a tour or even see a show performed at the site. 

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