Bremo includes three separate estates, all created by the planter, soldier, and reformer Gen. John Hartwell Cocke (1780-1866) on his family’s 1725 land grant. Still owned by Cocke’s descendants, the three properties—Upper Bremo, Lower Bremo, and Recess—preserve architecturally singular dwellings and numerous associated outbuildings and farm buildings, all erected under Cocke’s supervision. The principal architectural piece is the mansion at Upper Bremo, completed in 1820, one of America’s foremost works of Palladian-style architecture. While strongly influenced by Thomas Jefferson’s architecture, its design is the result of a collaboration between Cocke and master builder John Neilson, who worked for Jefferson at Monticello and the University of Virginia. Contrasting with the classical Upper Bremo are the Lower Bremo and Recess houses, both in a neo-Jacobean style inspired by Bacon’s Castle in Surry County, a Cocke family home. General Cocke was a leading public opponent of slavery. Still preserved in Upper Bremo’s west wing is the schoolroom in which Cocke undertook the education of African Americans at Bremo. Also on the estate is one of the unusual slave houses Cocke had built of pisé (rammed-earth construction), which he declared to be “the warmest shelter in winter and the coolest in the summer.”
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