The Oldest House in Virginia is More Than 350 Years Old

Important Points

One of the most important historical landmarks of the last 400 years, it is the oldest building in the entire United States.

The construction of Bacon’s Castle is in the Jacobean style, so called for King James VI and I. This architectural movement originated in the second half of the Renaissance.

Over the years, there have been multiple owners of the land.

In 1607, Virginia became the first English colony in what would eventually become the United States. Some of the pre-independence systems are still in place in the Commonwealth, despite the constant changes in the outside world. Lighthouses, mansions, and cathedrals are all included in Virginia’s tourism offering for historical tours. Bacon’s Castle is the oldest brick house in Virginia and the oldest home overall.

One of the most important historical landmarks of the last 400 years, it is the oldest structure in the entire United States. In one of the South’s most verdant settings, it celebrates the founding of the United States. Let’s examine what makes it so unique.

Where is Bacon’s Castle Located?

All it takes to get to this 17th-century structure is a drive through Surry County. This building, which is located at 465 Bacon’s Castle Trail, is protected by its listing on the National Register of Historic Places. Built with Jacobean design, it occupies half an acre in the Front Royal historic neighborhood.

Driving from Richmond, the state capital of Virginia, to Surry County requires getting on VA-10; in typical traffic, this takes a little more than an hour. You will eventually get at the property by taking State Route 617 for the final few minutes of the drive. You get at the estate from the end of your trip via the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry.

Bacon’s Castle and the Use of Jacobean Architecture

In addition to being old, Bacon’s Castle has Jacobean architecture. Known as the James VI and I Renaissance, this style first appeared during the second period of the Renaissance. Instead of Italian carvers, it had skilled German and Flemish sculptors. It is similar to the Elizabethan style that came right before it, but with more formal planning and elevation in the new design. At the time, a classical dwelling paired well with flat roofs and round arches, but the style’s heyday was short lived.

History and Origins of Bacon’s Castle

Originally known as Allen’s Brick House, Bacon’s Castle was built around 1665. Built beside the James River, it provided Arthur Allen and his wife Alice with a place to call home. Upon his death in 1669, his son, who was a prosperous trader and Justice of the Peace at the time, inherited the house. Under his son’s control, the property contained slave quarters beginning in 1673.

It was taken in 1676 by the supporters of frontiersman and rebel leader Nathaniel Bacon. They battled for their cause for the following three months, with William Rookings, John Clements, Joseph Rogers, and Arthur Long taking turns as leaders. Following Bacon’s death, Joseph Ingram assumed primary leadership, but he was unable to continue their advancement. Instead, the house began to be referred to as Bacon’s Castle toward the end of the revolt. There is no proof that Bacon ever entered the building, despite persistent local legends that he previously resided there. While historians disagree on the exact date of the name change, the Virginia Gazette published the first mention of the new name in 1769.

This property was passed down from one generation to the next over the years. The operation of Bacon’s Castle faltered with the emancipation of slaves by the federal government. Prior to his passing, John Hankins sold the 1,200 acres to settle a debt. After assuming possession in 1880, William Allen Warren sold it to their son Charles Allen Warren in 1909. Walker Pegram Warren then came to inherit it.

Following the sad deaths of Walker Pegran Warren and his wife in an automobile accident in 1973, the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities purchased it. Preservation Virginia is the new name for the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities. Only 40 acres of the estate were bought by the organization; the remaining portion was acquired by Virginia State Senator Garland Gray, who later left it to his son Elmon T. Gray as an inheritance.

What is Bacon’s Castle Like Today?

Following its acquisition by Preservation Virginia, Bacon’s Castle has remained safeguarded and conserved. The property is open to visitors as a historical site and house museum. The building’s hosts provide a 45-minute guided tour if you’d want to see the place as a tourist would. The hosts also provide a cell phone tour with an audio recording about the site and a numbered path for anyone who would want to explore it independently.

The house is open for tours on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday until 5:00 p.m. On Friday and Saturday, visiting hours begin at 10:00 a.m.; on Sunday, the hours don’t start until noon. Mondays from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. is when the property is open for visits from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Though, when purchasing tickets, you must select the day of your visit.

Additional Places to Visit in Surry County Chippokes State Park

Part of the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail, Hippos State Park is located on the south bank of the James River. The leader of one of the nearby Powhatan tribes, who lost this property to colonists in 1619, is honored with the name of the plantation. A window into Tidewater Virginia’s past is provided by the park’s historical buildings, which have been preserved. This view dates back to 1950. Through a variety of educational exhibits, visitors may see firsthand the significant contribution that forestry makes to the global economy today.

Living exhibits featuring heritage breed animals are part of the museum to help visitors have a deeper appreciation of Virginia’s past. Although the museum’s properties are only open from March to December, visitors are nevertheless welcome to explore on their own.

Jamestown-Scotland Ferry

There isn’t else way to see Bacon’s Castle but by taking the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry. This ferry operates daily throughout the year, with pick-up stations in Williamsburg and Surry. It can carry up to sixteen tons, and there is no cost to board the ferry. It is the only ferry in the state that is covered by the state and operates around the clock, employing over ninety people. The entire James River can be seen during the short five-minute trip.

Historic Jamestowne

A short journey from Surry will take you to Historic Jamestowne, where tours and reenactments await. The James River runs through the entire region, leading you past a number of important historical monuments. The daily events hosted here are listed in the weekly schedule. Every day offers you a glimpse at landmarks such as Pocahontas and John Smith statues, regardless of the timetable. The bustling town core is embodied in the New Towne neighborhood. Archaeological excavations at the site began in 1934, when the National Park Service acquired the region. The original bricks from the bustling metropolis were found as a result of these trips.

While most visitors only need three hours to tour the town and battlefields, some choose to spend the entire day there to take in everything it has to offer. This historical recreation of early communities offers a deeper look at the early days of the country with its café and family-friendly events. The Jamestown area serves as a reminder of the original settlement’s location, with Sandy Bay and the Back River both being close by.