Submitted by FHMaster on Sun, 12/18/2016 - 13:06

Rosewell Plantation in Gloucester County, Virginia, was for more than 100 years the home of a branch of the Page family, one of the First Families of Virginia. Begun in 1725, the Flemish bond brick Rosewell mansion overlooking the York River was one of the most elaborate homes in the American colonies.

In Mansions of Virginia, the architectural historian Thomas Tileston Waterman described the plantation house as "the largest and finest of American houses of the colonial period." Through much of the 18th century and 19th centuries, and during the American Civil War, Rosewell plantation hosted the area's most elaborate formal balls and celebrations. The home burned in 1916.

Construction of Rosewell was begun in 1725 by Mann Page I (1691–1730). Son of planter Colonel John Page of Jamestown and Middle Plantation, Page was educated in England at Eton College and Oxford University. Shortly after his return to North America, Page was appointed to the Governor's Council of the Virginia Colony. He married about 1712. His first wife died in 1716 from complications following the birth of their third child, son Mann Page, who also died.

In 1718 Page had married Judith Carter (1695–1750), a daughter of Robert "King" Carter and his first wife Judith Armistead. They had five children together, including a son named Mann Page II (1718-1778) and an infant that died in 1728, at birth.

Page had intended to build a mansion to rival or exceed in size and luxury the newly completed Governor's Palace in Williamsburg. After he died in 1730, his widow Judith Page inherited the property. The primary construction materials were brickmarble, and mahogany, some of which was imported from England. Architectural historians believe that the 12,000-square-foot (1,100 m2) house, double the size of the Governor's Palace, may have been designed by Mann Page himself. Larger than any residence built in colonial Virginia, Rosewell probably owed its design to the London townhouses built to the stricter codes following the Great Fire of London.

Their son Mann Page II (1718-1778) supervised completion of the mansion after reaching manhood. [7] By then the Page family was strapped for cash due to the cost of building the great house, and Page II ultimately sold off a significant portion of his vast land holdings to fund its completion. Page descendants continued to hold and occupy Rosewell for 100 years.

In 1837 the Page family sold the mansion to Thomas Booth. He made changes, removing the parapet and two octagonal rooftop cupolas from the house. The lead roof was stripped off and sold, as were the mansion's carved marble mantles and much of its fine interior woodwork. The flat roof was replaced with a low hip roof with a single cupola surrounded by a widow's walk.

The plantation passed through several more owners. In 1916 a fire broke out and destroyed Rosewell mansion. Today, the remains of the house is a largely undisturbed historic ruin. The site has been the subject of archaeological work. This has revealed many artifacts and shed light on some aspects of colonial life and architecture that were previously unclear. The property was listed in 1969 on the National Register of Historic Places.

From the colonial period to the Civil War, Rosewell planters held enslaved Africans and African Americans to work as field hands and as house servants: valets and personal maids, cooks and housemaids. Such large plantations were essentially self-sufficient, so numerous slaves also performed skilled trades such as carriage driver and caring for horses and carriages, blacksmithing, wooodworking, and butchering at the plantation. They raised all the vegetables and produce for the owners and often some for themselves.


John Page (1743–1808) became a politician, being elected and serving as Governor of Virginia. A grandson of Mann Page (I) and son of Mann Page II, he had grown up at Rosewell. He attended the College of William and Mary (class of 1763) in nearby Williamsburg, where he was a classmate of Thomas Jefferson, also of the planter class. He fought during the American Revolutionary War, attaining the rank of colonel. In addition to serving as governor, he served multiple terms in the U.S. Congress and the Virginia General Assembly.

Other notable members of Virginia's Page family include Colonel John Page of Jamestown and Middle Plantation and father of Mann Page I; Governor Page's brother Mann Page IIIThomas Nelson Page, U.S. Ambassador to Italy; William Nelson Page, known for building the Virginia RailwayThomas Jefferson Page, officer in United States Navy and Captain in the Confederate States Navy; and Confederate General Richard Lucian Page.



37°19′40″N 76°34′35″W
Mann Page I
Mann Page II
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