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[photo] Aerial view of Richneck Plantation archeological dig
Photo from National Register collection

In a developed area of Newport News lie the archeological remains of Richneck, the plantation seat of the prominent Cary family. The original dwelling was probably built during the late 17th century for Miles Cary, Jr. (1655-1709) and lived in by Cary and his descendents until the house burned in 1865. A family descendent visiting Richneck three years later noted that "The mansion was a pile of ruins, though from the remains of the walls still standing, I could estimate its former extent. It was a long-fronted, two-storied brick building with the usual outhouses and must have been very commodious." Richneck, like Bacon's Castle, had a cruciform plan and probably resembled other substantial late 17th-century and early 18th-century homes, such as the Matthew Jones House, in elevation and detail.

[photo] Students assisting with archeological excavations at Richneck Plantation
Photo from National Register collection

Miles Cary, Jr. held several positions in the government of colonial Virginia, including the rectorship of the College of William and Mary. Cary's grandson, Wilson Miles Cary, was among the patriots that met at Williamsburg's Raleigh Tavern to sign the "Association of 1774"-one of the first acts of the First Continental Congress. Miles Cary and his wife, Mary Milner Cary, are buried in the family graveyard, which is now part of the grounds of McIntosh Elementary School. The remains of the plantation were discovered during the construction of this school, and the excavation became an instructional project for high school students.

Richneck Plantation Site is located at McIntosh Elementary School, 185 Richneck Neck Rd. (Rte. 636), on the north side of I-64 in Newport News. The site is accessible to the public daily. There is no admission fee. Please call 757-886-7767 or visit the school's website for further information.

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