Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings
Ownership and Administration. Owned by The Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities.
Significance. Bacon's Castle is one of the most important existing buildings of 17th-century Virginia, on both historical and architectural grounds. Earliest extant example of the Virginia cross-plan houses and a remarkable architectural monument of the colonial period, it was built by Arthur Allen about 1655 and figured prominently in Bacon's Rebellion of 1676. A number of the rebel followers of Nathaniel Bacon seized Major Allen's house and fortified it; the house was thereafter known as Bacon's Castle.
The garrison, commanded at various times by William Rookings, Arthur Long, Joseph Rogers, and John Clements, retained control of the house for more than 3 months, but their cause was declining. The death of Bacon in October left his forces under the leadership of Joseph Ingram, who proved to be unsuited to the command. Ingram dispersed his army in small garrisons. As the demoralized troops began to plunder indiscriminately, conditions in the colony became deplorable.
Gov. William Berkeley began to conquer the isolated posts one by one, some by force and some by persuasion. A loyal force from the vessel Young Prince captured an unidentified "fort" on December 29 that many historians have identified as Bacon's Castle. After withstanding a brief siege early in January 1677, the Loyalists used the "fort" as a base of operations for the last engagements of the rebellion, which ended before the month was out.
Bacon's Castle is a fine extant example of the Virginia cross plan. A two-story brick structure laid in English bond, it has a 10-foot-square, two-story porch in front and a larger stair tower in the rear. The main floor originally had a great hall and smaller parlor. The stair tower afforded access to a large cellar containing several rooms and an 8-foot-wide fireplace, as well as two large bedrooms on the second floor and three more in the garret.
Exterior features of note are the Flemish gables at each end of the house; large triple chimneys stand barely free of the gables. The chimneys, set diagonally and joined only at the caps, rise from a straight stack 10 feet wide and 4 feet deep. The house is a unique example of Jacobean architecture.
Present Appearance. Bacon's Castle has been altered at various times, and until a few years ago was in poor condition. About the middle of the 19th century, a brick addition was annexed to the east side of the house; it replaced an earlier frame addition that was moved some distance away and is still standing. Many original features remain unaltered. Walker Pegram Warren lived in the house until his death in 1972. Through a purchase agreement, the APVA bought the house and began a research and restoration effort. The APVA opened Bacon's Castle in 1983 to the public. 
NHL Designation: 10/09/60
Last Updated: 22-Mar-2005