Known originally as Sheffields and later as Auburn Chase, Bellwood was a working farm from the early 17th century until 1941. The two-story dwelling, erected in Chesterfield County south of Richmond ca. 1790 by wealthy planter Richard Gregory, is a characteristic example of the wooden Georgian architecture favored by Virginia planters of the time. In May 1864, Confederate general P. G. T. Beauregard made the house his headquarters. It also served as a meeting place between Beauregard and President Jefferson Davis. James Bellwood bought the property in 1887 and turned it into a model farm, winning acclaim at the 1914 Pacific International Exposition. The U. S. Army purchased Bellwood in 1941 and activated the Richmond General Depot. Although the house has been adapted as an officers’ club, much of its early fabric is intact. An elk herd established by Bellwood is also maintained on an adjacent twenty-acre reserve.
An update to the Bellwood nomination and an expansion of its historic boundaries was approved by the National Register in 2013. The 23-acre Bellwood property is located in the southeast corner of the Defense Supply Center Richmond in Chesterfield County. The boundaries of the nominated property encompass the land historically associated with the Bellwood house, the Gregory Cemetery, and the elk pasture. Bellwood is listed at the state level of significance in the area of Agriculture for its association with James Bellwood, and at the local level of significance in the area of Architecture, and with a period of significance extending from ca. 1804, when the house was originally constructed, to 1924, when James Bellwood died, ending his association with the property. The period of significance reflects the evolution of this property from its initial use as an antebellum plantation through its post- Civil War transformation by James Bellwood, who turned the property into a nationally recognized modern, progressive, 20th-century farm that used innovative farming techniques to create one of the most productive farms in Virginia prior to World War II.
[VLR Approved: 9/22/2011; NRHP Approved: 8/1/2013]
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