Virginia House: The House that Moved Homes
The house which would become Virginia House was originally built in the 12th century and served as a priory until Henry VIII split from the Catholic church and closed the hundreds of monasteries and nunneries around Britain. Over the next four hundred years the house would change hands numerous times, with each owner adding a personal touch; such as knocking down the surrounding monastic buildings and adding curvilinear Dutch gables to the front façade around 1620. The fortunes of the house rose a fell throughout the centuries with one owner entertaining Queen Elizabeth I there and another, in the early 20th century, being forced to sell it.
In 1925, Alexander and Virginia Weddell bought it at a demolition sale. They had it dismantled and rebuilt part of it in Richmond, Virginia, where they hoped the west wing would serve as a museum for the Virginia Historical Society.
The company that was to demolish the Priory felt the stones would crumble in the process, so they decided to make a small explosion in the middle of the building and send only those stones that survived the blast to America. To their amazement, most of the stones fell intact. The more fragile ornaments were packed in boxes with sand to cushion them. The ship bringing the stones to America had to turn back to port as it was taking on water. Consequently, when the stones arrived in Richmond they were soaked in seawater and had to be washed and dried. The first group of stones arrived in Richmond in the spring of 1926.
Virginia House was completed in 1928, and in 1929 it was presented to the Virginia Historical Society with the Weddells retaining lifetime tenancy.
[Image One: The house in England : Image Two: The House in Virginia : Images 3-5: (courtesy of Vintage-Royalty
) The House now]