Eppington is a Georgian-style plantation home that was built in 1768 by Frances Eppes (Historic Prince William Inc., 2004). The plantation is over 400 acres of and is situated along the Appomattox River in Chesterfield County. I chose to highlight this property because it is historically significant, yet there is very little publicity of the site. It is located nearly a mile from the main road River Road, in the area of the county called WInterpock. Due to its isolated and rural location, it was hidden from public view and had been forgotten for years.
Eppington is historically
significant because Francis Eppes, was a cousin of Martha Wayles Skelton
Jefferson, Wife of Thomas Jefferson. Eppes
grandson John Wayles Eppes married his cousin Mary Jefferson Eppes in 1797. The
plantation then became their home and the holding place for slaves that Wayles
was selling South (Virginia Foundation for the Humanities,2010). Following
Martha Jefferson’s death in 1782, two of Thomas Jefferson's daughters, Maria
(Polly) and Lucy, lived at Eppington with the Eppes family while Jefferson
served as minister to France. Jefferson visited Eppington on several occasions and
was at this location when he received a letter from George Washington offering
him the position of secretary of state. He was also there when George
Washington sent word for him to come to France during the French Revolution (The Thomas Jefferson Foundation.
While Jefferson was away, tragically, Lucy died at age two in 1784 and
was buried at Eppington (The Thomas Jefferson Foundation. 2002).
Because of its
preserved condition and intricate structure, Eppington is architecturally
significant. It is also unique because it
was built in perfect proportions. The two-and-a-half-story center portion of
Eppington was built first in 1768, and the one-story wings were added around
1790 (Historic Prince William Inc., 2004). The practice of combining several
varying sections developed in the third quarter of the 18th century, to break
down the dominance of the central block of earlier Virginia houses. After the death
of his wife Martha, Jefferson left his daughters at Eppington when he went
to France during the French Revolution. His youngest daughter Lucy Elizabeth
(age 2) died there of whooping cough and was the first burial in the Epps
family cemetery. Her 2-year-old cousin Lucy Epps was buried beside her within 2
weeks. A Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) survey of the
graveyard at Eppington revealed 10 adult graves, 16 infant graves, and two
vaults (National Parks Service, 1999).
After the Civil
War, the house was brought by Henry Cox, but he sold it a few years later the
Hinds family in 1876 (The Eppington Foundation, 2004). This family owned the
property until 1989 when they gifted it to the Chesterfield County Historical
Society (The Eppington Foundation, 2004). Currently there is a need for
donations to purchase the land surrounding the plantation today, for
archaeological research of the graveyard. There are also efforts to raise
funding to restore the original slave quarters as well. Therefore, the
plantation is a significant site relative to African-American history as well.