Mount Bernard

1 Dec

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Mount Bernard is a brick residence that was built circa 1850. The house is believed to have been built on the foundation of an 18th century dwelling. The home has been altered and enlarged several times. Most notably, in the 1920’s the façade of the home was changed to Classical Revival which was then in vogue. More additions were done in the 1940’s to the sides and rear of the home which turned the original T-shaped plan into a rectangle. Behind the home the terraced lawn descends towards the river.

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The first known owner of the tract was Phillip Lightfoot. He acquired the land before Goochland became a county and in the beginning the property was known as Lightfoot’s Beaverdam Plantation. In 1782, Lightfoot’s heirs sold the 700 acre property to Dr. William Pasteur. In 1805, the property was sold again, this time to Granville Smith under its new name, Kameschatka. The property then changed hands again, this time to Edward Garland. While Garland was owner, the original house burned, it is this foundation that is believed to be under the present day structure. In 1848, the home was once again sold, this time to Mathew M. Payne. In 1858, the home changed hands again, this time under the name of Mount Bernard, to Richard G Morriss.

Mount Bernard drawing

Drawing of Mount Bernard by a daughter of Major William N. Barret. Courtesy of Virginia State Library.

More owners would call Mount Bernard their home until 1925 when it became the property of Piedmont Securities and was by that time 1,559 acres. R.W. Woodruff, the owner of Coca-Cola, was on the board of Piedmont Securities and it is in this way that he took control of Mount Bernard. During his time there, he enlarged the house, changed the façade to Classical Revival, added barns and landscaped the house to fit his style of living.

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In 1948, Mount Bernard changed hands again, this time to another businessman, T. Brady Saunders. Saunders at the time was running Miller Manufacturing and Liphart Steel Company. He owned Mount Bernard for 20 years during which he began to break up the acreage. In 1963, Saunders gave 200 acres to the Boy Scouts for what became known as Camp T. Brady Saunders. In 1978, the house and a portion of the acreage was sold to Carmody Associates and finally in 1985, Dr. Donald P and Maria Becker purchased the home.

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The antebellum home is surrounded by contributing buildings such as a secondary residence, ice house and cool chamber, main barn/stable, slave quarters/kitchen, corn crib, two stables, equipment shelter and a well house. This grouping of house and buildings was enough to earn the property inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.

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