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DHR's Virginia Board of Historic Resources easement

Bedford’s premier historic residence, Avenel was begun in 1835 for Frances Steptoe Burwell and William M. Burwell, son of William A. Burwell, secretary to Thomas Jefferson. William M. Burwell served in the Virginia legislature and was an emissary to Mexico. His prominence in the local political scene made Avenel a focal point of Bedford social life. An articulate blend of Federal and Greek Revival styling, the imposing house exemplifies how skilled local craftsmen used designs from pattern books such as Asher Benjamin’s Practical House Carpenter (1830) to embellish the interior. An interesting characteristic is the division of the interior into two nearly equal halves, each with its own formal staircase. Originally the nucleus of a plantation, the house is now part of a turn-of-the-20th-century residential neighborhood and a contributing property in the Bedford Historic District. In 1985 Avenel was acquired by the Avenel Foundation, which restored the house for public use.

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

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