Coordinates: 37°50′39.7″N 77°35′4.4″W / 37.844361°N 77.584556°W / 37.844361; -77.584556
Scotchtown is a plantation located in Hanover County, Virginia, that was once owned and used as a residence by Patrick Henry, revolutionary and first Governor of Virginia. It is located in Beaverdam, Virginia, 10 miles (16 km) northwest of Ashland, Virginia on VA 685. The house is owned and managed by the Preservation Virginia which operates a number of other historic properties across the Commonwealth, including the John Marshall House, the Old Cape Henry Lighthouse, Bacon's Castle, and Historic Jamestowne.
The house, at 93 feet (28 m) by 35 feet (11 m), is one of the largest 18th century homes to survive in the Americas. In its present configuration it consists of eight substantial rooms on the first floor surrounding a central passage, with a full attic above and English basement below.
The Scotchtown property was given as a land grant to Charles Chiswell, a prominent planter and iron mine owner, in 1717. Chiswell built a small house on the property, probably in the 1720s, which was expanded to its present size around 1760. IT was first given the name "Scotch Town" in a 1757 deed of sale. At this time the house was also the location of a store which bought and sold local tobacco.
Patrick Henry purchased the house in 1771 and lived there with his wife, Sarah Shelton Henry, and their six children. This was his home during his most influential period, including his famous "Give Me Liberty, or Give Me Death!" speech at St. John's Episcopal Church in Richmond, Virginia. It was also his residence when he was elected Governor of Virginia in 1776. His wife Sarah, who suffered from mental illness, died at the site in 1775. Scotchtown remained his home until 1778, when he married his second wife and relocated to the Governor's Palace in Williamsburg.
In the 19th century, the property was owned by the Sheppard/Taylor family. In 1958 it was purchased by Preservation Virginia (formerly known as the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities). Scotchtown was long believed to have been the girlhood home of Dolley Madison, wife of president James Madison, who was a relative of Patrick Henry. However, little evidence beyond Madison's own recollections of the house as a child support this fact, and her recollections may have been memories of visits to the house during her childhood.
The home was owned by the Sheppard-Taylor Family after 1801 until it was given to Preservation Virginia (formerly known as the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities) in 1958. Little is known about the Sheppard-Taylor family, other than the changes they made to the appearance of the house over the generations.
The property was sold at auction in 1957 where it was purchased by Preservation Virginia for $17,000. Extensive archaeological work has taken place in the decades following, and a number of restoration projects have restored the house to its late 18th century appearance, including rebuilding outhouses such as the icehouse, kitchen, and law office.
Scotchtown was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1965. The property received a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services in 1993 to "reexamine its policies, procedures, and the current condition of its collection and structures," including restructuring its programming. It is currently open for visitors seasonally or by appointment.
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