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[photo] Wilton
Photo courtesy of Virginia Department of Historic Resources

Wilton is one of the most architecturally significant James River plantations, the only completely paneled interior in Virginia. The high style Georgian mansion was constructed from 1750 to 1753 for William Randolph III on a 2,000-acre plantation overlooking the James River, although it was later moved to its current location in Richmond. This residence incorporated exacting proportions and finely crafted details, including decorative exterior brickwork, an elegant staircase with beautifully carved balusters and vertical raised panels throughout the entire house, including the closets. Although differing in details, Wilton shares its plan and dimensions with Westover (near Wilton's original location); both houses have a central passage, flanked by two rooms on either side, each room warmed by a fireplace requiring four chimneys.

[photo] Current and historic views of Wilton 's paneled interior
Photos courtesy of Virginia Department of Historic Resources and the Historic American Buildings Survey (VA,44-RICH.V,3-20)

This was one of several Randolph estates on the James River, a list which includes Tuckahoe, built by William's uncle, Thomas Randolph. The Randolph family was prominent in colonial Virginia affairs, and William Randolph III entertained George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and the Marquis de Lafayette at Wilton. William's son, Peyton, was the second Randolph to own Wilton, and its most noted owner. Peyton Randolph married Lucy Harrison, daughter of Benjamin Harrison of Berkeley. He served as Speaker of Colonial Virginia's House of Burgesses, chairman and instigator of the First Virginia Convention in 1775, president of the First Continental Congress and died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, while serving as delegate to the Second Continental Congress.

[photo] Painting of Peyton Randolph
Courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration, (NWDNS-148-GW-731b)

The National Society of the Colonial Dames purchased Wilton in 1933 and moved it 15 miles north of its original location to provide protection from encroaching industrial development south of Richmond. The house was carefully re-erected within the city limits of Richmond, along the banks of the James River. Today, Wilton is a museum of history and decorative arts.

Wilton is located at 215 S. Wilton Rd. on the south side of Cary St. in Richmond. It is open for tours March-January: Tuesday-Friday, 1:00pm to 4:30pm (and from 10:00am to 1:00pm by appointment), Saturday 10:00am to 4:30pm and Sunday 1:30pm to 4:30pm; during February by appointment only; closed Mondays and major holidays. There is an admission fee, which can be combined with other sites with the purchase of the Richmond Pass combination ticket. Please call 804-288-9805 or visit the house's website for further information. The Wilton House has also been documented by the Historic American Buildings Survey.

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