Virginia House, featured in yesterday’s post as the scene of McKinnon and Harris’ catalog photo shoot. Completed in 1929 by Virginia and Alexander Weddell, and was deeded to the Virginia Historical Society, with the Weddell’s retaining a lifetime tenancy. Today it is the HQ of the VA Historical Society, and is open to visitors. The interesting part about this house is that although it is old by today’s standards, pieces of the house were built with the stones from a 16th century building. So while the visitor must recognize the 20th century history of Virginia House, it is important not to ignore the history of the earlier building.
The main part of the house was constructed from the materials of the 16th Century Warwick Priory in Warwick, England. The Weddells purchased the pieces of the Priory in a demolition sale and had them put on a ship and brought to Richmond. When the pieces arrived, many of them were covered in sea water, and had to be washed and dried out prior to rebuilding. Virginia House is not an exact replica of the Warwick Priory. The Weddells hired architect Henry Grant Morse, who scoured the English countryside looking for inspiration for his clients.
The loggia at the back of the property was completed much later, when Virginia Weddell hired architect William Lawrence Bottomley, and had antique columns imported from Spain. The loggia features a painted ceiling that was imported from a 16th century house in England, that once stood on the site where Knole, a National Trust property, now stands.
The porch, seen in the background of this McKinnon and Harris catalog photo, came off of Mrs. Weddell’s bedroom. The couple would spend time there during the heat of the summer, and would often take their breakfast there. A house like this is the perfect setting for a photo shoot, such as the one done by McKinnon and Harris, and also the perfect place to visit. As mentioned before, the house is open to visitors year round – next time I’m in Richmond, I’ll be there.
Photos courtesy of McKinnon & Harris, and Virginia Historical Society