Brandon, one of America's most admired works of colonial architecture, illustrates the influence of English interpretations of the designs of Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio. The house was built c. 1765 by Nathaniel Harrison II, for his son Benjamin Harrison. The inspiration for the house's seven-part design came from Plate III of Robert Morris's Select Architecture (1755), an English pattern book of Palladian style designs. The exterior displays excellent uniform brickwork, interesting massing, a fine modillioned cornice in the central block and the Georgian symbol of hospitality at the peak of the hipped roof-a pineapple. The interior of the house retains 18th-century paneling. During the 19th century several minor changes were made to the hall of the house, including the addition of the arcade and stairs.
The name of the plantation derives from the area's 17th-century land patent, Martin's Brandon. Originally Brandon was part of the vast land grant to John Martin, companion of Capt. John Smith, on his first voyage to America. In 1637, merchants John Sadler and Richard Quiney and mariner William Barber, bought Martin's Brandon. They and their heirs farmed it successfully until 1720 when it was sold to Nathaniel Harrison.
Brandon remained in the Harrison family until 1926, when it was acquired by Mr. and Mrs. Robert W. Daniel. The Daniels undertook the restoration of the house and grounds. Today, the house is furnished with 1760s English and American furniture, placed in the house by the Daniels. The expansive estate contains more than 4,500 acres, of which 1,600 acres are cultivated with soybeans, wheat and barley. The agricultural activities, representing one of America's oldest continuous farming operations, are overseen by the Daniels' son, Robert Daniel.
Brandon, a National Historic Landmark , is located on the north side of Brandon Rd. (Prince George County Rte. 611), five and a half miles north of Rte. 10, between Hopewell and Smithfield . Gardens and grounds are open daily. There is an admission fee. Please call 757-866-8486 for further information, or visit the Virginia tourism website. Brandon has also been documented by the Historic American Buildings Survey.
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