Chippokes Plantation, a 1,400-acre farm located opposite Jamestown Island, has been the site of an active agricultural operation for nearly four centuries. Unlike many large plantations along the James River, it was never a family seat during the 17th or 18th centuries, but changed hands frequently, serving as a secondary plantation managed by overseers or farmed by tenants. Named for Choupocke, an Indian chief friendly to early English settlers, early owners of Chippokes included Governor Sir William Berkeley, who acquired the property in 1671, and the Ludwell family, who owned the property from 1684 to 1824. Chippokes Plantation consists of 20 historically significant buildings and structures, including two plantation houses. The River House, the oldest dwelling on the plantation, is a vernacular frame building that was doubled in size in the 1840s. Architecturally, the River House illustrates the continuation of a Virginia Tidewater vernacular tradition, whose beginning can be seen in earlier frame homes, such as Belle Air and Kittiewan.
Albert C. Jones purchased the plantation in 1837, and became the first owner to live there. Jones used the River House as his principal residence until he built an Italianate brick home on the property around 1855. This house, like nearby Lee Hall, reflects the liberal application of academic stylistic elements onto the regional forms and floor plans of the largest homes. Chippokes Plantation also retains an extensive collection of original plantation outbuildings, slave quarters, farm buildings and several colonial period archeological sites. In 1917 Mr. and Mrs. Victor Stewart purchased Chippokes, and lived here until 1967, when Mrs. Stewart donated the plantation to the Commonwealth of Virginia for the establishment of a museum of Virginia's agricultural history.
Chippokes Plantation State Park is located at 695 Chippokes Park Rd. on the north side of Virginia Rte. 10 and Surry County Rte. 634, between Hopewell and Smithfield. Tours of the Italianate house are offered from 1:00pm to 5:00pm Friday-Monday in the summer; weekends only April-May and September-October. Chippokes Farm and Forestry Museum is open from 10:00am to 5:00pm Friday-Monday in the summer; weekends only April-May and September-October; reservation can be made for groups of 10 or more at other times. There is an admission fee; a combination ticket for both the house and farm museum can be purchased at the museum. Lodging is available in restored tenant houses and camping sites. Please call 757-294-3625 or visit the park's website for further information.
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