Battersea is a marvelous 18th century estate located in Petersburg, Virginia. Built in 1768, Battersea celebrates its 250th anniversary. Its characterstic Palladian style architecture and beautiful grounds provide visitors a memorable and unique historical experience.
Battersea Foundation is restoring Battersea for future generations. The estate is one of the finest surviving Palladian structures in America and is a Virginia Historic Landmark listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Battersea was built in 1768 by
Colonel John Banister. Colonel Banister (1734-1788) was an important figure for
both Petersburg and the emerging nation as it struggled for independence. Colonel
Banister’s involvement in the Revolutionary War effort as
well his signing of the Articles of Confederation demonstrates his essential
role in the politics of the day. He was also Petersburg’s first mayor, a member
of the House of Burgesses, and participated in the framing of the Virginia
Declaration of Rights and the state constitution.
Although Banister’s doings were
well-known, Battersea’s story is a bit more obscure. The house features Anglo-Palladian
style architecture fashioned after the Italian architect Andrea Palladio’s
designs. The house, or “villa” is subdivided into five symmetrical sections
characteristic of Palladian architecture, but the patternbook plates of British
writer Robert Morris also influence elements of the home. Unfortunately, and
mysteriously, the designer of Battersea is unknown. Whoever designed the villa would
have had extensive knowledge of popular architectural styles in addition to a
familiarity with European tastes
Banister contributed numerous supplies to American troops. He also corresponded
with then-Governor Jefferson and General Washington about military and monetary
concerns during the War as a lieutenant colonel of cavalry under General
Lawson, for which he acquired his title “colonel”.
was educated in England, making it likely that he had experienced such European
architectural inspiration, but there is little evidence that he had the
know-how to design Battersea completely on his own. Jefferson and Banister
wrote to each other, and Jefferson of course was highly interested in
architectural pursuits. Though there is speculation that Jefferson was
involved, there again is lacking evidence to prove who had a hand in designing