Download Virginia Plantations Mount Vernon, Monticello & Other Great Houses
Thomas Jefferson's Monticello is one of Virginia's most famous plantations. (Photo: monticello image by Gordon Adams from Fotolia.com )
Jamestown, Virginia, was the first permanent settlement of what would become Britain&#039;s colonial empire, and its eventual success was rooted firmly in growing tobacco as a cash crop. From those humble beginnings grew the wealthy plantations of Virginia, with their charming manor houses and aristocratic landowners. The state is dotted with the remnants of 18th and 19th century plantations, most of which host tours that explain plantation life, slavery, and the history of Virginia&#039;s blue bloods.
For the most part, Virginia&#039;s plantation tours are centered on and run by the plantation itself. Plantations in Virginia consist of a mix of public properties enclosed in the state park system, and private properties operated by foundations, companies or private individuals. Bus tours that visit multiple plantations, such as that of the Virginia Film Tour company, are few and far between.
Plantations are found throughout the state of Virginia. In the southwestern foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains near Charlottesville is Thomas Jefferson&#039;s Monticello, while only 15 miles from Washington, D.C., is George Washington&#039;s Mount Vernon. The James River alone is the setting for at least half a dozen separate plantations that are open to the public and each with at least one guided tour. Very few places in Virginia are not within an hour&#039;s drive of at least one historic plantation house.
Bus tours taking in multiple plantations are a rarity in Virginia, with the Plantation Movie Group Tour of Virginia Film Tours being one of the few. Focusing on plantation houses that were used as sets in film and television productions, the all-day tour visits the historic plantations of Berkley, Tuckahoe and Westover. Berkley was the family seat for the Harrisons, a family that produced Founding Father Benjamin Harrison and President William Henry Harrison, while the schoolhouse at Tuckahoe saw a young Thomas Jefferson attend classes. The tour reviews the history of the houses and details of the film and television productions made there.
The individual details of individual plantation tours vary considerably, and many plantations have more than one tour. Chippokes Plantation State Park has a tour of the plantation house and a tour of its Farm and Forestry Museum, while Monticello has six separate regularly scheduled tours of the property, plus a series of seasonal tours and special events. Sometimes tours are included in the admission, as is the case at Shirley Plantation. Others incur an additional fee, such as Monticello&#039;s Evening Tour. Still others, like those at Chippokes Plantation, are (excepting general admission to the park) free of charge.
Plantations in Virginia generally remain open and conduct tours year-round. However, that does not necessarily mean the plantations maintain a full roster of tours through the year.Regularly scheduled tours of the plantation house at Chippokes Plantation State Park are held April through October, and for the rest of the year must be arranged in advance and for groups of 10 or more. Virginia Film Tours runs its bus tour throughout the year.
About the Author
Edwin Thomas has been writing since 1997. His work has appeared in various online publications, including The Black Table, Proboxing-Fans and others. A travel blogger, editor and writer, Thomas has traveled from Argentina to Vietnam in pursuit of stories. He holds a Master of Arts in international affairs from American University.