Eldon: James Whittle's Home

On Eldon front porch c. 1870

Photo, c. 1870, of the front porch of Eldon with — right to left — Captain William Conway Whittle, C. S. N.; "Miss Mary" Whittle; and a Mr. Dabney.

By Henry H. Mitchell

James Whittle built Eldon around 1835 for his second wife Cornelia Lotte Skipwith. (He named Eldon for a conservative English jurist whom he admired, Lord Chancellor Eldon.) James and Cornelia Whittle had one daughter, Matoaka (Sims), before Cornelia's untimely death. Now widowed twice (he had lived at the Columns with his first wife Mary Coles), James Whittle never remarried. He remained at Eldon for the rest of his life.

William E. Sims and Matoaka Whittle were married at Eldon in 1865, and lived there until their own home (now the Sims-Mitchell House) was completed across town. Inscribed initials and signatures of the Sims couple and their two boys, James and John, are still evident in the upstairs front bedroom windowpanes at Eldon.

At James Whittle's death, he left Eldon to his daughter "Miss Mary" Whittle. It is said that she was a strict traditionalist, never allowing even the "modern technology" of a wood stove in Eldon's kitchen!

After her death, Eldon was the home of Claude A. Swanson (Governor of Virginia, U. S. Senator, and Secretary of the Navy) for over 30 years, during which time numerous changes and additions occurred, in the Neoclassical style. Then, for about fifty years Eldon was owned by the local Whitehead and Elliott families, before being developed as a bed and breakfast inn by Joy and Bob Lemm, and her son and daughter-in-law Joel and Peggy Wesley.

Eldon is now again a private residence, the home of the Wilson family.

Anne and Mark Waldo with Joy Lemm

Anne and Mark Waldo visit with Joy Lemm, former owner of Eldon, home of Waldo's great-great-grandfather James Whittle.

Ann and Mark Waldo see Sims signatures

Anne and Mark Waldo trace the initials and signatures of his ancestors in Eldon's windowpanes.


This website is sponsored by Mitchells Publications and the Sims-Mitchell House, Chatham, Virginia.