John Tyler purchased this house in his native Charles City County in 1842 while serving as the 10th president of the United States. Tyler had previously served Virginia as congressman, governor and United States senator. In 1845, Tyler, who had been expelled by the Whig Party, returned from the White House with his bride Julia Gardiner to settle at Sherwood Forest, previously known as Walnut Grove and built in 1780. Tyler named his home Sherwood Forest because he considered himself to be like Robin Hood—a political outlaw. Tyler added wings, hyphens and dependencies to the vernacular frame dwelling, resulting in a unified and balanced façade, measuring 300 feet in length making it perhaps the longest historic house in the state. The interior was ornamented with woodwork based on the pattern-book designs of Monard Lafever.
At the secession of the first southern states in 1861, John Tyler led a compromise movement, although his effort failed. Tyler subsequently contributed to the creation of the Confederacy and was a member of the Confederate Congress at his death in 1862. Following the Civil War, Tyler's wife returned to Sherwood Forest to reclaim the plantation, which had been badly battered during the Union occupation of Charles City County. The property remains the home of John Tyler's grandson and his family, and is open to the public as a historic house museum. The original French parlor wallpaper was reproduced during a restoration in the 1970s and the interior includes many possessions of President Tyler and the Tyler family.
The John Tyler House (Sherwood Forest), a National Historic Landmark, is located six miles east of Charles City County on the south side of Virginia Rte. 5, at 14501 John Tyler Memorial Hwy. It is open daily for self-guided grounds tours from 9:00am to 5:00pm, and guided house tours by appointment. There is a fee for admission. Please call 804-829-5377 or visit the house's website. The John Tyler House has also been documented by the Historic American Buildings Survey.
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