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New York architect Alexander Jackson Davis designed the grand romantic Powhatan County mansion at Belmead for Philip St. George Cocke in 1845. Although its pinnacles and other decorative elements have been removed, the house remains one of the country’s preeminent examples of a Gothic Revival villa. Cocke served as a president of the Virginia Agricultural Society and was a board member of Virginia Military Institute, where he was instrumental in having A.J. Davis design the new complex. In 1893 Belmead was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Edward de Vaux Morrell of Philadelphia, who founded here in 1895 St. Emma’s Industrial and Agricultural School for African American male youth. Renamed St. Emma Military Academy in 1945, the school continued until closing in 1972. Belmead remained the property of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, a Philadelphia corporation which leased it to the privately operated Blessed Sacrament High School, until 2019, when the property was sold into private ownership.

Last Updated: February 15, 2024

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

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