Charles City County: Belle Air

Belle Air mansion

Courtesy of Virginia Department of Historic Resources

Belle Air is a rare, unique example of a wooden house with a postmedieval-type exposed interior framing. It is probably the oldest plantation house along Virgini'a Route 5 Scenic Byway.

The origins of the Belle Air property can be traced back to Colonel Thomas Stegge II, William Byrd I's uncle. Stegge inherited his father's mercentile enterprise and James River plantation ins 1653. He settled on the 1,700 acre plantation and built a house there in 1655. Lieutenant Colonel David Clarke purchased a part of Stegge's land in 1662. His house was completed in 1665, and is sometimes referrd to as Windsor.  Clarke or one of his descendants likely built the present house at the turn of the century and later named it Belle Air. Destruction of colonial records of  Charles City County, make it impossible to pinpoint the exact construction of the house.

Hamlin Willcox purchased the property in 1800. The property remained in the family until 1945. The house was spared from ruin by Mrs. Walter O. Major.  The property was listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register on January 15, 1974 and the National Register of Historic Places on July 18, 1974. The plantation is located at 11800 John Tyler Memorial Highway. For more information please call (804) 829-2431.