shirley plantation & lunch at joe’s inn

Sunday, September 29:  This morning I leave my dad’s house in Yorktown, taking a detour off of I-64 to stop at Shirley Plantation in Charles City, Virginia. The eleventh generation of one family continues to own, operate and work this colonial plantation.

Driving to Shirley Plantation
Driving to Shirley Plantation
Shirley Plantation
Shirley Plantation

It is also the oldest family owned business in North America, dating to the establishment of the farm by Edward Hill I in 1638.  The home has been continuously inhabited by descendents of the same family since 1738.  The mansion is referred to as “The Great House.” (Shirley Plantation: Shirley’s History)

James River
James River

The most important building, the Great House, is closest to the James River, with buildings of lesser importance further away.  The Great House was originally flanked on either side by freestanding wings, which have since been dismantled.

Shirley Plantation from the James River side
Shirley Plantation from the James River side

According to the plantation brochure: Shirley Plantation is America’s first plantation; it was founded in 1613, only six years after the first permanent English settlement of Jamestown.  Shirley Plantation survived Indian uprisings, Bacon’s Rebellion, the American Revolution, the American Civil War, and the Great Depression.

Shirley Plantation
Shirley Plantation

Pork was a major staple in Colonial Virginia.  As much as 10 tons a year were butchered, cured and smoked at Shirley.  Hogs were butchered in the winter months, then rubbed with salt and cured in tubs for two weeks. The meat was hung from the rafters and pegs in the smokehouse. The smoking process lasted two weeks and required burning a fire outside the Smokehouse day and night to supply coals. Green wood was placed on the hot coals in the pit to create a rolling smoke.  The most popular types of wood used for flavoring included hickory, oak and apple.  Apple wood was preferred at Shirley.

extended plantation
extended plantation with the smokehouse in the foreground
stellar flowers
stellar flowers
plantation buildings
plantation buildings
kitchen
me in the kitchen
fake food
full fake working kitchen
full fake working kitchen

outbuilding

cotton
cotton
cotton and machine
cotton and machine

I get a tour of the house, and see the original family furnishings and portraits.  However, we’re sadly not allowed to take pictures in the house.

After the tour, I wander around the grounds to get the full lay of the land.

the lay of the land
the lay of the land
purple berries
purple berries

Shirley’s dovecote is round and made of brick. Shirley’s dovecote was built between 1723 and 1738 and has 6 rows of 18 roosts for a total of 108 roosts.  Doves were an important source of dietary protein, both from their meat and eggs.  Outside the dovecote, I run across some goat and chicken crossings.

It’s bizarre to me that I’ve lived my whole life in Virginia, and I’ve traveled the road between Yorktown and Richmond too many times to count, yet this is the first time I’ve ever taken time to stop and visit this plantation.

I love tree-lined lanes like this
I love tree-lined lanes like this

After leaving Shirley Plantation, I drive another 15 miles to Richmond, where I stop in to visit Sarah at Joe’s Inn, where today she’s working as bartender.  After about 45 minutes, she gets off and joins me at the bar.

the bar at Joe's Inn
the bar at Joe’s Inn
Joe's Inn
Joe’s Inn
Wall art on the wall of Joe's Inn
Wall art on the wall of Joe’s Inn

After our lunch, I head back home to the dreaded northern Virginia, to prepare for another week of work. 😦

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17 thoughts on “shirley plantation & lunch at joe’s inn

  1. I love tree lined lanes like that, too. Looks like a beautiful place to explore. The full fake working kitchen looks a lot better than my kitchen right now! lol! Someday, when a big chunk of the work is done around here, I’ll be able to get off this peninsula and see what else Maryland and Virginia have to offer. Your explorations have helped me to make a list of places I want to visit. 🙂

    1. I bet your kitchen is a mess right now, Robin, as you’re going through a renovation! If you ever come this way, I hope we can meet, especially if you’re coming to the northern Virginia or Washington area! Glad I can inspire you. I’m trying to get inspired by exploring parts of Virginia that I’ve either never visited or haven’t visited in a long time. I’m still dreaming of more exotic places though…. sigh.

  2. Thanks Cathy for another nice day out 🙂 Love the plantation buildings. I wish we could get cocktails here for $2.76 – what a bargain! And please tell me who the hell smokes cloves????

    1. Haha, you guys are better at noticing details than I am! I had to go back and look at my own pictures to see the thing about the smoking of cloves! I wonder if that’s a joke or if people actually do that? I’ll have to ask Sarah. 🙂

    1. Yes, Joe’s Inn is an old Richmond establishment and is always bustling. Sarah makes more money waitressing and bartending there than I make as a teacher at a community college! Pathetic, huh? They have great down-home kind of food. 🙂

      1. Haha, I don’t think I want to be a waitress! Sarah hates her job and is now trying to go back and finish her B.A. By the way, I started the travel writing course. So far so good. I’m so glad you recommended it, Carol. 🙂

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