Date and Home Lineup Set for 2009 Autumn Pilgrimage House Tour

Charles City, VA (August 4, 2009) — History will once again be on display in Charles City County this fall, for a good cause.  Westover Church announced that its 15th Autumn Pilgrimage House and Garden Tour will be held Saturday, September 26, 2009, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  All the properties on this year’s tour are historic and several have not been available for public touring for many years. One historic house was originally built in 1790 in Chesterfield County and was moved in 1998 to its current site by barge to the banks of the James River.

Over the years, the tour has generated well over $160,000 for Westover Church and its charitable outreach programs. “Meals on Wheels” is the primary recipient, along with other local, national and international concerns, which benefit from this event. Significant contributions have been made to the Katrina storm victims, the Crow Indian Reservation in North Dakota, and the Diocesan Relief Fund, among others.

Charles City County boasts a wealth of history, not only in terms of events and the people who helped shape our country, but also in terms of architecture. From imposing 18th century plantation houses to smaller domestic structures, churches and new homes, the county offers a stunning breadth of American architecture. A truly notable architectural tour in Charles City must include visits to its numerous historic plantations and private homes. The ancestral homes of past presidents and notables of Virginia society serve as glimpses of the past, which bring past events that shaped our country to life.

Properties on the 2009 Autumn Pilgrimage House Tour

Westover Church

Westover Parish Church (seen right)
One of the oldest churches in the country, its predecessor was constructed between 1630 and 1637 on Westover plantation. The original structure was dismantled circa 1730, and was reconstructed at its present site on Herring Creek. Through the centuries, farmers, plantation owners, slaves have worshipped at Westover Parish Church.  Notable attendees at the church include George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, John Tyler and Theodore Roosevelt.

Bethany Presbyterian Church
This beautiful Greek Revival church was built in 1869. The white frame building has a classical facade with a portico supported by Doric columns. Members of the congregation will serve refreshments during the tour.

Berkeley Plantation
No tour of properties in Charles City County would be complete without a visit to Berkeley.  One of the first great estates in America, the plantation was part of a 1618 land grant.  It was the site of the first Thanksgiving and the first playing of the military song, “Taps”, and also served as a field hospital during the Civil War.  Benjamin Harrison IV built the mansion.  Born in the home were his son, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and Governor of Virginia, and his grandson, Governor of the Indiana Territory and ninth President of the United States.

Sherwood Forest
Sherwood Forest Plantation was the home of the 10th U.S. President John Tyler from 1842 until his death in 1862. Sherwood Forest Plantation has been the continuous residence of the Tyler family since the President purchased it in 1842. Known to be the longest frame house in America, it is over 300 feet long.

Built in 1728, this property was donated to the Archaeological Society of Virginia and is undergoing physical and archaeological study.

Weyanoke and Upper Weyanoke
These two homes are part of properties owned by several Virginia families prominent in Virginia history, such as Sir George Yeardly, Abraham Piersley, William Harwood, Fielding Lewis Douthat and his wife Mary Willis Marshall, granddaughter of the Chief Justice.

North Bend Plantation Bed & Breakfast
This home was built in 1819 for Sarah Harrison, the sister of President William Henry Harrison. The plantation lands are still under cultivation by the current owners, the Copland family, descendants of the Ruffin and Harrison families.

Richmond View
Richmond View was originally built in Chesterfield County ca. 1790. The house was located in an industrial corridor between Interstate 95 and the James River and was in danger of complete ruin until the owners moved it to Charles City by barge in 1998.  In 2006, Richmond View was designated by Southern Living magazine as the “Best Preservation” project of the year.

Activities on the day of the Tour

The day of the pilgrimage will kick off with a presentation of the foxhounds from Princess Anne Hunt Club at Sherwood Forest Plantation from 9 until 9:30 a.m. A variety of activities will follow at Westover Church throughout the day, including lunchtime entertainment by various groups from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Local products and produce, including pumpkins will be featured at the church lawn throughout the day. Box lunches may be reserved in advance and will be served at the church from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The youth of Westover Church will sell homemade goods and a la carte lunch items, including chili and hot dogs.

Two distinctive plants highly favored in local gardens will be available for sale: Poet’s Laurel (danae racemosa), an evergreen shrub useful for flower arrangements and Spider Lily bulbs (lycoris radiata of the amaryllis family), a favorite fall blooming flower.  Other perennials, such as daffodils and day lilies will be available for sale.

Raffle Tickets
Raffle prizes will be a Sony Cybershot Camera (donated by Office DEPOT), a Trek Navigator 2.0 three-speed mountain bike, and overnight accommodations for two at North Bend Plantation Bed & Breakfast with dinner at Charles City Tavern. Winners will be chosen from the raffle drawing at 5 p.m. Cost of the raffle tickets are $5 each or six tickets for $25. For more information or to purchase raffle tickets, contact Theresa Coyne, 804-829-9077 or The raffle tickets will be on sale the day of the tour at Richmond View, Sherwood Forest Plantation, Westover and Westover Church.

Ticket and Lunch Information
Tour tickets may be purchased in advance through September 22, 2009 for $30 per person. Tickets may be purchased on the day of the tour for $35 per person at Richmond View, Sherwood Forest Plantation, Westover and Westover Church. Box lunches may be ordered in advance for $12 each and will be available at Westover Church between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

Advance tickets and lunch reservations contact:
For advance admission tickets, raffle tickets and lunch reservations, send checks, payable to Westover Church by September 22, to Teresa Coyne, 13101 Tyler’s Mill Road, Charles City, VA  23030. Tickets may be purchased on the day of tour, September 26 at Richmond View, Sherwood Forest Plantation, Westover and Westover Church.

For more information or questions, contact:
Teresa Coyne at (804) 829-9077,
Kay Tyler at (804) 358-6248,
Westover Parish Church webpage