United States of America, Virginia, Surry County, Claremont
Claremont Manor (Claremont, Virginia)
The land on which Claremont Manor was built came into the possession of the Allen family in 1681. The property was passed down to the Allen family descendents for 205 years, and became prosperous with 12,000 acres for growing tobacco, and hundreds of slaves to work the fields, until the Civil War. Portions of the property were sold by several owners following the Civil War, becoming the town of Claremont, Virginia or smaller farms.
The Georgian style brick manor, which includes several outbuildings, was built in ca.1740, was expanded and altered over time. The manor is sited at the top of a terraced lawn about 100 feet above the James River at its confluence with Upper Chippokes Creek. Old trees, including magnolias, frame the garden, which is itself bordered in boxwood. The extensive grounds were divided into garden area by grass walkways, later paved or bricked, and a variety of brick walls. The ornamental plantings were organized in garden rooms, with boxwood borders, and fruit arbors. There are two lanes of linden trees leading to the James River, one to a wooded dell that fronts the boat landing.
The garden was restored in the 1930s under the ownership of General William H. and Ann Cocke and again in the 1950s during James Walter Carter's ownership. Major changes during the 1930s included the addition of mature trees and shrubs and the public road was moved away from the house. A swimming pool and tennis court, designed by William Lawrence Bottomley, was added during the ownership of Millicent Rogers, 1940-1950.
During the Carter ownership (1950-1964), landscape architect Alden Hopkins of Williamsburg redesigned the gardens, changing and paving walkways and adding mature trees. The Ardibel Carpet at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London was the source of the design of the kitchen garden, using herbs and vegetables. Other trees planted in the 1950s included crepe myrtles and starlight magnolias. The home was occupied by the Felician Sisters and used as a convent during the mid-1960s and 1970s. In 1982, Lewis and Ann Kirby bought and added back 68 acres that were once part of the original property.
Persons associated with the property include Arthur Allen II (former owner 1681-1710); John Allen (former owner, 1710-1741); William Allen (former owner, 1741-1793); William Allen II (former owner, 1793 - 1831); William Orgain Allen (former owner 1831-1875); William Allen IV (former owner 1875-1886); J. Franklin Mancha (former owner, 1886-1887); A.B and Edward Randall (former owner, 1887-1888); A. B. Randall (former owner, 1888-1894); Benjamin F. Hilt (former owner, 1894-1900); Elizabeth G. Winter (former owner, 1900-1909); Harry C. Burdick (former owner, 1909-1919); Eleanor C. Johnston (former owner, 1919-1928); General William H. and Ann O. Cocke (former owner, 1928-1940); Millicent Rogers (former owner, 1940-1950); James Walter Carter (former owner, 1950-1964); Felician Sisters Convent (former owner, 1964-1976); Lewis and Ann Kirby (current owner, 1976- ); Alden Hopkins (landscape architect, 1950s-1960s) and Donald H. Parker (landscape architect).
The folder includes worksheets and photocopies of articles about the property.
This property is mentioned in Descriptive Guide Book of Virginia's Old Gardens, published by the Garden Club of America (ca. 1930), p.37; Great Georgian Houses of America, published by Dover Publications, vol. II; WPA Guide to the Old Dominion; Claremont Manor: A History by Eve S. Gregory (1985). The Garden Club of Virginia began describing the property in its publications ca. 1923