One of only a few brick homes built on the south bank of the James during the colonial period, the Tar Bay mansion was a high style Georgian plantation house built in 1746 by Daniel Colley on a bluff overlooking a broad reach of the James just west of Coggins Point known as Tar Bay. The house was a two story five-bay, hip-roofed brick structure over a full English basement. Its brickwork was laid in Flemish bond with gauged brick jack arches. It was somewhat unusual due to an extension from the river front that gave the house a T-shaped floor plan. The chimneys had exterior fireplace openings, that were bricked up at the time of construction. These were apparently for future additions to either side of the house that were planned, but never built. The plantation remained in the Colley family through the early 19th century when the estate passed by marriage and inheritance through the Cocke family to descendants of Edmund Ruffin. The mansion was being used as a summer home by the Ruffin family when it was gutted by fire in the mid 1960s. Its ruins still stand (2013) nearly forgotten in the woods above the James.