Virginia State Seal Virginia Department of Historic Resources

042-0029 Rural Plains

Rural Plains
Photo credit: Laura Kline, 2014

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For additional information, read the Nomination Form PDF

VLR Listing Date 03/18/1975

NRHP Listing Date 06/05/1975

NRHP Reference Number 75002021

One of the oldest dwellings in Hanover County, the gambrel-roofed house at Rural Plains is an important example of a substantial, non-academic Tidewater farmhouse of the early-18th century. It is believed to be the oldest gambrel roof house in Virginia. A dendrochronology study has established a construction date of 1724-1726 for Rural Plains. The house is distinguished by its large scale, Flemish-bond brickwork, and curious porch chamber above the entrance, a very early, if not original feature. The property was the home of the Shelton family from 1670 until 2006. An 18th-century owner, John Shelton, who was also proprietor of Hanover Tavern, was the father of Sarah Shelton, Patrick Henry’s first wife. Most of the house’s original woodwork was removed during 19th-century remodelings. The property was the scene of Civil War action during the Battle of Totopotomoy Creek. Union general John Hancock made his headquarters here, forcing the Shelton family to live in the basement. Now a unit of the National Park Service’s Richmond National Battlefield Park, it is known as the Shelton House at Rural Plains.


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


Updated: May 16, 2022