Submitted by FHMaster on Sun, 12/18/2016 - 13:08

Sherwood Forest Plantation, also known as John Tyler House, is located on the north bank of the James River in Charles City County, Virginia. It is located on State Route 5, a scenic byway which runs between the independent cities of Richmond and Williamsburg. The house is located approximately 1.5 miles (2.4 km) from the river.

Sherwood Forest is the only private residence in the United States to have been owned by two unrelated United States Presidents. William Henry Harrison inherited the plantation, then named Walnut Grove, in 1790 and held it for three years. He sold the 3,000 acres (12 km2) property in 1793 having never lived in the house. Harrison's successor John Tyler purchased the plantation, which by then had been reduced to 1,600 acres (6.5 km2), in 1842 and lived there after leaving the White House.[citation needed]

John Tyler renamed the plantation Sherwood Forest in 1842. He said it signified that he had been "outlawed" by the Whig party. He was attracted to the plantation because it was near his birthplace at Greenway Plantation. He retired there when he left the White House in 1845 and spent the rest of his life there with his second wife and some of his children - he had eight with his first wife, and seven with his second wife.

Pearl, the youngest, was born in 1860, when Tyler was 70 years old; she died in 1947.

As regional hostilities in the United States escalated to become the American Civil War in 1861, Tyler backed Virginia's secession, although he died in January 1862. Later that spring, the house was occupied by Union soldiers during McClellan's Peninsula Campaign of 1862 and again during Grant's Overland Campaign in 1864. During the latter, the Battle of Wilson's Wharf was fought nearby. When an Ohio regiment vacated the house in 1864, they attempted to raze it with fire as a punishment for Tyler's support of the Confederacy. The fire was quickly extinguished by a loyal slave and did little damage to the house.

Owners of the house who started restoring it in the mid-20th century started removing some home-made storm windows and then discovered from old records that Tyler had built them himself, so they kept them. One of the house's claims to fame is the length of the house; over 300 feet (91 m). It is also noted for its long, skinny ballroom, a "hyphen" Tyler had added to the house to accommodate the style of dancing popular then - what is today called "line dancing" but was then the "Virginia reel."[

The house has been in the Tyler family since it was purchased in 1842. The house is currently owned by Harrison Ruffin Tyler, President Tyler's grandson, and the son of Lyon Gardiner Tyler. It is open to the public for tours.

Sherwood Forest-1961.jpg 

President John Tyler purchased the Walnut Grove Planation in 1842 while serving as the president of the United States. Walnut Grove, built in 1780, was renamed Sherwood Forest after Tyler and his bride Julia Gardiner settled in Charles City County in 1845 after Tyler was expelled from the Whig Party. Tyler renamed the house because he considered himself to be like Robin Hood- a political outlaw.

President Tyler added wings, hypends, and dependencies to the house, which produced a unified and balanced facade. These additions lengthened the house by 300--possibly making it the longest historic house in the state. 

After the succession of the first southern states in 1861, President Tyler led a compromise movement, although his effort failed. He subsequently contributed to the creation of the Confederacy and served as a member of the Confederate Congress when he died in 1862. Following the Civil War, Mrs. Tyler returned to Sherwood Forest to reclaim the plantation, which had been badly damaged.

Today the property remains in the Tyler family. Sherwood Forest was listed as a Virginia Landmarks Register on September 9, 1969 and the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966. It is located at 14501 John Tyler Memorial Hwy, Charles City, VA 23030. For more information please visit: Sherwood Forest Tours or call: (804) 829-5377.

Exterior view of Sherwood Forest


Charles City
37°19′29″N 77°1′14″W
John Tyler
State Route 5
NRHP Ref Number