Thorn Hill

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Thorn Hill
Thorn Hill, Southwest of Lexington, off VA Route 251, Lexington vicinity (Rockbridge County, Virginia).jpg
Thorn Hill, HABS Photo
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LocationSW of Lexington off VA 251, near Lexington, Virginia
Coordinates 37°45′50″N79°28′11″W / 37.76389°N 79.46972°W / 37.76389; -79.46972 Coordinates: 37°45′50″N79°28′11″W / 37.76389°N 79.46972°W / 37.76389; -79.46972
Area500 acres (200 ha)
Built1792 (1792)
Architectural styleI House
NRHP reference # 75002035 [1]
VLR #081-0084
Significant dates
Added to NRHPJune 18, 1975
Designated VLRFebruary 18, 1975 [2]

Thorn Hill is a historic home located near Lexington, Rockbridge County, Virginia. It was built in 1792, and is a two-story, five bay, brick I-house dwelling. It has a side gable roof, interior end chimneys with corbelled caps, and a two-story, one-bay wing. The front facade features a colossal tetrastyle portico with Doric order columns. The property includes the contributing log smokehouse, frame kitchen, frame servants house and loom house, and barns and farm outbuildings. Thorn Hill was the home of Col. John Bowyer, a central figure in Rockbridge County's formative years. [3]

Lexington, Virginia Independent city in Virginia, United States

Lexington is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. At the 2010 census, the population was 7,042. It is the county seat of Rockbridge County, although the two are separate jurisdictions. The Bureau of Economic Analysis combines the city of Lexington with Rockbridge County for statistical purposes. Lexington is about 57 miles (92 km) east of the West Virginia border and is about 50 miles (80 km) north of Roanoke, Virginia. It was first settled in 1777.

Rockbridge County, Virginia County in the United States

Rockbridge County is a county located in the Commonwealth of Virginia. As of the 2010 census, the population was 22,307. Its county seat is Lexington. The independent cities of Buena Vista (6,680) and Lexington (7,170) are both enclaved within the county's geographical borders.

I-house

The I-house is a vernacular house type, popular in the United States from the colonial period onward. The I-house was so named in the 1930s by Fred Kniffen, a cultural geographer at Louisiana State University who was a specialist in folk architecture. He identified and analyzed the type in his 1936 study of Louisiana house types. He chose the name "I-house" because of its common occurrence in the rural farm areas of Indiana, Illinois and Iowa, all states beginning with the letter "I". He did not use the term to imply that this house type originated in, or was restricted to, those three states. It is also referred to as Plantation Plain style.

It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. [1]

National Register of Historic Places federal list of historic sites in the United States

The National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) is the United States federal government's official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects deemed worthy of preservation for their historical significance. A property listed in the National Register, or located within a National Register Historic District, may qualify for tax incentives derived from the total value of expenses incurred preserving the property.

The property has historically been closely associated with nearby Washington and Lee University (W&L). In 1782, Bowyer was appointed one of the first trustees of Liberty Hall Academy, which eventually became W&L. [4] . John Robinson, a principal benefactor of Washington College, and Judge John Brockenbrough, founder of the W&L Law School, lived at Thorn Hill. More recently, Thorn Hill was a dairy farm, and the house itself largely fell into disrepair.

Washington and Lee University private liberal arts university in Lexington, Virginia, United States

Washington and Lee University is a private liberal arts university in Lexington, Virginia. Established in 1749, the university is a colonial-era college and the ninth-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States.

In 2004, Bill Johnston and Paul Elliott bought Thorn Hill, spending more than $1 million restoring the property and adding various amenities, including a large pottery studio where the original kitchen (which was built away from the main house to prevent the main house from burning down in the event of a fire) once stood. They also added a scenic driveway and lush gardens. In 2008, the pair attempted to sell the property. Unfortunately the house went on the market the week before the collapse of Bear Stearns. Over the next several years, they kept cutting the price without attracting a buyer. In 2013, the owners decided to auction the house. [5]

Current Washington and Lee Trustee Bennett L. Ross and his wife Alyson Moore Ross were the high bidders during the auction, [6] stating that they "...were interested in buying Thorn Hill because of its ties to Washington and Lee."

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References

  1. 1 2 National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places . National Park Service.
  2. "Virginia Landmarks Register". Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Retrieved 5 June 2013.
  3. Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission Staff (December 1974). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination: Thorn Hill" (PDF). Virginia Department of Historic Resources. and Accompanying photo
  4. Washington and Lee University (December 1974). "Liberty Hall Academy". Washington and Lee University.
  5. LandFlip.com. "HISTORIC THORN HILL". LandFlip.com.
  6. Kit Huffman. "W&L Alumnus New Owner of Thorn Hill" (PDF). Rockbridge News-Gazette.