Submitted by FHMaster on Sun, 12/18/2016 - 12:56

Mount Airy, near Warsaw in Richmond County, Virginia, built in 1764, is a mid-Georgian plantation house, the first built in the manner of a neo-Palladian villa. Colonel John Tayloe II, perhaps the richest Virginia planter of his generation, constructed it. His daughter Rebecca and her husband, Francis Lightfoot Lee, one of the only pair of brothers to sign the Declaration of Independence (Richard Henry Lee being the other brother,) are buried on the estate, as are many other Tayloes. Before the American Civil War, Mount Airy was a prominent racing horse farm, as well as headquarters of about 10-12 separate slave plantations along the Rappahannock River (comprising some 60,000 acres). Mount Airy is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a National Historic Landmark as well as on the Virginia Landmarks Register, and is still privately owned by Tayloe's descendants.

The Tayloe family had owned the land around Mount Airy for over century before Colonel John Tayloe II, a fourth generation tobacco planter, began building a manor house with a commanding view of the Rappahannock River valley as well as westward towards the town of Tappahannock. The project began around 1748 and finished in 1758. Tayloe used reference books of the day to incorporate then-modern and now-classical architectural themes. As discussed below, John Tayloe II also became a distinguished breeder of race horses at this plantation, including: Sir Archy, Selima and Grey Diomed. The original stable and a few outbuildings (including a smokehouse and dairy/ice-house) survive to this day. The house continues occupied by Tayloe family descendants, including Mrs. H. Gwin Tayloe, Jr. (died 3 June 2011) and now John Tayloe Emery, Sr.

Col. Tayloe's son-in-law Francis Lightfoot Lee, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, lived nearby, in a house Col. Tayloe built for the young couple, Menokin. Tayloe's daughter and her famous husband are buried in the Tayloe family cemetery, approximately 300 yards (270 m) from Mount Airy.

John Tayloe II, John Tayloe III (1792-1828) and William Henry Tayloe, operated Mount Airy and it's outlying farms not only as plantations worked by enslaved populations, but a successful horse stud farm. John Tayloe III also continued his father's building tradition, constructing the Octagon House in the new federal city, Washington, D.C. (which became his winter residence). He also operated an ironworks and shipbuilding facility near Neabsco, Virginia, led a company of dragoons into Pennsylvania to suppress the Whiskey Rebellion, and held various local political offices.

West of Warsaw on U.S. 360, Richmond County, Virginia
37°58′20″N 76°47′29″W
John Tayloe II
NRHP Ref Number