Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS #VA-419): Green Hill Plantation

Prepared by Orville W. Carroll, Architect, National Park Service, October 1960, for the Historic American Buildings Survey, Library of Congress. Photos were taken concurrently by Jack E. Boucher, Photographer, National Park Service.

Cluster of Upper Town buildings

Address: Virginia Road No. 728 near intersection with Virginia Road No. 633, Long Island Vicinty, southern part of Campbell County, Virginia.

Present Owner and Occupant: L. H. Holland and brothers

Present Use: Residence and farm.

Brief Statement of Significance: Outstanding example of early 19th century Virginia plantation architecture surviving with little or no alterations. A good representation of a self-sustaining community in the early and mid-1800's.

Historical Information

Physical History

  1. Original and subsequent owners: Land originally owned by William and Moses Fuqua. Later sold to Samuel Pannill in 1797, who may have built the rear portion of the main house at that time. Building activity probably spanned many years in time. The estate passed to a son, John Pannill, in 1864, who died unmarried. The property was inherited by a daughter, Judith Wimbush, and subsequently sold to Mr. Randolph. In later years, it was purchased at a public sale by James Franklin, Sr. who bequeathed it to his nephew, Samuel Hale. Present owners are the Holland Brothers.
  2. Date of erection: Rear wing of the main house, possibly built in 1797, appears to be older than the two-story front section. The granary building, dated 1821, is only structure with a date stone.
  3. Original plan of the plantation: "Green Hill" is located in the southern part of Campbell County near the village of Long Island. The buildings are grouped into two distinct parts: the main house with its dependencies was designated as "Upper Town," and is situated on a plateau overlooking the Staunton River. In its original state, probably just the rear portion of the main house existed with the main driveway or entrance coming from what is now considered the back of the place.

    Main house, southeast corner

    When the two-story front portion was added, the orientation of the house was changed and the main entrance was made to enter from the south. In addition to the main house there are several dependencies: the kitchen, laundry, slave quarters, loom house (?), duck house (?), ice house office (?), and two barns, one log and one frame. At a further distance away from this grouping of buildings and still standing are the granary, tobacco barn and the ruins of a carriage house, stables, spring house and the like. All of these buildings seemed to be connected with cobblestone walks and drives that still exist in remarkably good condition.

    Nearer the Staunton River was located the second group of buildings forming a community known as Pannill's or "Lower Town." A grist mill formed the nucleus of this community with the miller's house, store, chapel and additional quarters for slaves and tenants nearby. Nothing remains of these buildings except portions of their walls and foundations. It is known that Pannill operated a ferry and later a toll bridgeover the Staunton River suggesting that buildings probably existed across the river in Pittsylvania County.

Supplemental Material

The following report on "Green Hill" was prepared by F. O. Briggs, Jr., Jones Memorial Library, Lynchburg, Virginia, June, 1960:

Green Hill, near Long Island, Campbell County, Virginia, is on an elevated plateau overlooking the Staunton River. It is believed this house was built by Samuel Pannill on land he purchased from William and Moses Fuqua in 1797.

North wing

The house is L-shaped and the rear wing may be older than the main portion. As you enter the front hall, the parlor is to the left. There are glass fronted cabinets on either side of the fireplace with blue-tinted glass panes. I do not know the original or present use of the room on the right. There is no access to the rear wing except by going on to the side porch. This porch has fine round brick columns and, according to old timers, the original road came up through an avenue of cedars (none remaining) to this porch, so this may have been considered the "front." The room on the ground floor of this portion has fine panelling, chair rail high, and the one room above has dormer windows on the porch side only.

The abundance of rock on the estate allowed free use of it in construction of roads, outbuildings and walls. It is a reddish sandstone and was abundant, also, across the Staunton River in Pittsylvania County where Pannill owned land and where he is supposed to have built a stone chapel for the slaves.

The buildings which surrounded the dwelling, most of which are still standing, were designated as "Upper Town." These included a loom house, kitchen, double laundry with water and waste connections of stone, a duck house and quarters for the house servants. Also included would be the stables, carriage house, granary, and ice house.

The store, chapel and mill near which were the more extensive slave quarters, the miller's house, etc., formed a community known as Pannill's and also referred to as "Lower Town." Near the mill was a ferry operated by Pannill which he later replaced with a toll bridge. Flour ground at Pannill's mill was shipped by batteaux to Weldon and Gaston, North Carolina. The large stone chapel for the slaves in Pittsylvania County is reported still standing, though I have not seen it.

The six hundred acres Pannill originally purchased from the Fuqua family were enlarged by him to about five thousand acres before his death in 1864 at 94 years of age. The estate was inherited by his son, John Pannill, who died unmarried. A daughter, Judith, married John Wimbush and they acquired Green Hill. Wimbush sold it to a purchaser named Randolph, who, tradition says, paid for it with fraudulent bonds for which he was shot by one of Wimbush's sons. The homicide was tried in court but was acquitted. Later Green Hill was purchased at public sale by James Franklin, Senior of Lynchburg, who bequeathed it to his nephew, Samuel Hale in whose family it remained until fiarly recently. It is now owned by the Holland family.

There is still standing a large, partitioned stone tobacco barn in the four corners of which are small, windowless rooms used as breeding rooms for the slaves.

Cobblestone pathway

All the buildings were connected by stone paths and roads. The lawns, gardens and some of the fields are separated by stone walls. The wall about the house has small openings for cats and dogs to enter.

The house is of brick and the side porch has refined, round, brick columns. There is a large brick dependency to the rear with a loft above and a wine cellar beneath. The duck house is of brick. All other dependencies are of native stone. The stables, carriage house and an unidentified building near them are in ruins, as is the mill. The granary and tobacco barn are in fair condition, thought there is a large crack running from roof to ground in the tobacco barn caused by lightning some years ago. Much of the stone roads and paths (each building was connected to every other and to the house by either a road or path of stone) are still discernible. The fine garden is now a hog lot; several huge old box trees only remain.


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