The tiny Rappahannock River community of Port Royal in Caroline County was a thriving tobacco port during colonial times. Named for Thomas Roy’s tobacco warehouse, the town was established in 1744. It prospered through the early 19th century but declined with the advent of the railroads. Thus bypassed by progress, Port Royal remains almost entirely within its original boundaries and preserves the appearance of an early Tidewater river town. Lining its several grid-plan streets are some thirty 18th- and early-19th-century buildings, including the unusual mid-19th-century Greco-Gothic St. Peter’s Episcopal Church and its colonial rectory. The numerous vacant lots are likely rich with the archaeological evidence of vanished buildings. Prominent residents include the 18th-century teacher/clergyman Jonathan Boucher; George Fitzhugh, author and prophet of the industrialized South; the Confederate nurse Capt. Sally Tompkins (who lived at Riverview); and 20th-century architectural historian Thomas T. Waterman. The Port Royal Historic District was expanded in 2020.
The Port Royal Historic District’s 1970 nomination was updated in 2020. As part of the research for this update, resources within the original district were resurveyed to verify their condition and to create an accurate inventory. In addition, the period of significance for the district is defined as beginning in 1744 with the town’s founding and ending in 1970 to capture the significant continued development of the area through the mid-20th-century.
[Update NRHP Approved: 3/9/2021]
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