A Federal-style house with elegant architectural details, the Barrett-Chumney
House was built in 1823 by Thomas Barrett as a small tobacco plantation
worked by enslaved Africans. With the exception of some Greek Revival elements
added during the 1860s, the house remains little changed today and is an excellent, well-preserved example, along with its affiliated agricultural buildings,
of an early plantation. It later operated as a farmstead of tenant farmers
and day laborers.
Throughout its history, the rural landscape of Amelia County
has been dominated
by rolling pastures and a reliance on staple crops such as tobacco, cotton,
and mixed grains. In the prosperous decades of the early
19th century many
similar plantations were established across the county, made possible by
slave labor, agricultural improvements, and an expanding transportation
system. Few of those early plantations in Amelia have survived as intact and unchanged as the Barrett-Chumney House.