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December Gathering – Vallambrosa

18 Dec

IMG_6754 adjOn December 1, 2019, the Society gathered at historic Vallambrosa for our annual holiday meeting. R. Strother and Evie Scott, our hosts, welcomed us to their home for an afternoon of fellowship and food with a little society news thrown into the mix.

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Homeowner Evie Scott (left) and Society President Christina Dunn (right) led the news portion of gathering

Vallambrosa was built in the early 1870’s by Dr. Charles Guerrant Massie and named for an ancestral Guerrant home in Italy. It was constructed of heart pine cut from the surrounding woods and has a foundation of brick which were manufactured on the site. Dr. Massie built the house after serving as a surgeon in the Civil War, when he returned to Goochland to practice medicine. He married Mildred Heath Guerrant, daughter of Colonel Charles Guerrant and his wife, Sarah Thompson Guerrant, of “Balquither” in Goochland County. Born in Goochland County on March 31, 1836, Dr. Massie was of Huguenot descent, a great grandson of John Guerrant, Jr. who was born in 1760 at nearby “Ceres” located close to the old Three Chopt Road. John Guerrant, Jr. was a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1788; was commissioned Brigadier General of Virginia forces in 1793; and became President of the State Council and Lieutenant Governor of Virginia in 1805.

According to family records, the original house was comprised of four rooms, two upstairs and two downstairs, with a central hall running from front to back. An outside kitchen, smoke house, ice house, and servants’ house existed along with a barn which was already on the place when the land was purchased from Alexander Shelton in 1870. The house and dependencies were built by local workmen, without benefit of architect or contractor.

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The former Perkinsville post office was relocated to the grounds of Vallambrosa and re-purposed as a tack room.

The lane to Vallambrosa passes through the entrance posts which were built from bricks of the foundation walls of Balquither. The wall around the family graveyard, within sight of the house, was built with rocks from the foundation of the old barn at Ceres.

This family home serving four generations, stands simply and serenely, cherished by the family and from its very beginning, known by relatives and friends for the warm hospitality they enjoyed there.

The property is still owned by members of the Massie family.

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We thank the Scott family for hosting us for the afternoon and our members who brought a delicious array of hors d’oeuvres for tasting.

To read more about Vallambrosa, read Goochland County Historical Society Magazine Vol. 5, No. 2 “Vallambrosa” by Charlotte Taylor Massie.  Available for purchase at the Historical Center and online: Vol 5, No. 2.

Highlighting Historic Properties – Reed Marsh

1 Mar

For the web 2Reed Marsh was purchased by William Miller in 1817, and remains one of the best examples of classic central-passage-plan dwellings from the nineteenth century. William Miller was the first of five members of the Miller family who served as county clerks in Goochland for a period of 152 years. William Miller was clerk from 1791 until his death in 1846, he was succeeded by his son Narcissus Miller who is credited with saving Goochland County’s records during the Civil War when many other county’s public records were destroyed. Narcissus Miller’ son, William Miller Jr., served from 1868 to 1900; his son, Peter Guerrant Miller, from 1912 to 1942, and his daughter Margaret Miller, from 1942 to 1955. They all lived at Reed Marsh. The house and the Miller family service led the property to be considered by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources as a potential candidate for inclusion on the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places.

In 1933, forty-two acres of land from the Reed Marsh property was sold for the first consolidated secondary school in Goochland County, Goochland High School. The original school’s structure was quite elaborate for its day. It still remains standing to date and serves as the county administrative offices. Land from Reed Marsh was also sold for the location of the Goochland Branch of the Pamunkey Regional Library.