Belle Isle

VLR Listing Date


NRHP Listing Date


NRHP Reference Number


The formal, symmetrical arrangement of buildings and gardens of the great Tidewater colonial seats is present on a reduced scale at Belle Isle, a Rappahannock River plantation named for a marshy island formerly part of the property. The Lancaster County complex includes a compact Georgian manor house flanked by two perpendicularly placed dependencies. The grounds preserve original terraces for formal gardens. The complex was built for Thomas Bertrand Griffin following his marriage to Judith Burwell of Carter’s Grove in 1766. Subsequent to the nomination, dendrochronology testing revealed that Belle Isle was constructed in 1767. One-story wings were added around 1802 during the ownership of Rawleigh Downman. Sections of the interior paneling were removed in the 1920s and later were acquired by the Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum. The complex was restored in the 1940s by noted National Park Service architectural historian Thomas T. Waterman. The curtilage remains private property but the balance of the plantation is now Belle Isle State Park.

Last Updated: June 2, 2023

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

For additional information Read

Nomination Form



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