Virginia State Seal Virginia Department of Historic Resources

005-0018 Sweet Briar House

Sweet Briar House
Photo Credit: Ansel Olson Photography, 2018

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For additional information, read the Nomination Form PDF

VLR Listing Date 05/01/1972

NRHP Listing Date 09/15/1970

NRHP Reference Number 70000783

Elijah Fletcher, publisher of the Lynchburg Virginian and mayor of that city, purchased this early-19th-century farmhouse in 1825 for a weekend retreat in nearby Amherst County. His wife, Maria Crawford Fletcher, renamed it Sweet Briar for the wild roses there. In 1851 the Fletchers transformed the plain Federal-style house into a major expression of the Italian Villa style, adding square towers, veranda, and arcaded portico. The design, based on a drawing by Richard Upjohn published in Andrew Jackson Downing’s Architecture of Country Houses (1850), may have been the choice of Fletcher’s daughter, Indiana, whom Fletcher credited with the project. Indiana Fletcher Williams inherited Sweet Briar House and directed in her will that the property was to become a school for young women. Sweet Briar College thus received its charter in 1901. The Sweet Briar House has served as the home of the college presidents since that time.

Many properties listed in the registers are private dwellings and are not open to the public, however many are visible from the public right-of-way. Please be respectful of owner privacy.

VLR: Virginia Landmarks Register
NPS: National Park Service
NRHP: National Register of Historic Places
NHL: National Historic Landmark

Updated: January 9, 2023