Historic Mount Pleasant c.1812
This extraordinary 107 acre historic estate in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley is close to DC, yet a world away. With glorious views and creek frontage on 3 sides, Mount Pleasant represents a rare opportunity to own a piece of history and engage in organic farming, raise livestock, operate an equestrian facility or a B&B…in fact, a buyer's imagination is the only limitation to the uses for this versatile property.
The owner had made this home her residence for over twenty years. Her dream was to offer visitors an opportunity to not just tour an historic home but to stay in one. At the Mt. Pleasant 1812 Bed & Breakfast, the guests could gain a first-hand understanding of the architecture of the period – no north windows, but fireplace cupboards for extra insulation on those walls; ten- to twelve foot ceilings and a central hall for summer ventilation; tall windows for light; and heavy interior doors to retain winter warmth. So many of today’s generations did not grow up on a farm and have been denied the chance bond with the land. Here you could do just that: the fields, the woods, the creek surround the house on all sides. After a short time, you forget that the interstate and “civilization” are literally just around the corner.
The house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and Virginia Historic Landmark Register. It was built in 1812 by Capt. Isaac Bowman, who served in the Ohio Campaign of the Revolutionary War with George Rogers Clark. He was born at Harmony Hall, the nephew of the builder of Belle Grove Plantation. The property has been maintained to very high historical standards and has all the original woodwork, fireplaces and hardware. The gardens abound with native plants, as well as the colonial plants of the German settlers and the colonial English settlers from whom Mary Chinn Bowman descended.
Mount Pleasant, an imposing gable-roofed, five-bay, brick, Federal-style house overlooking Cedar Creek north of Strasburg, Virginia, was constructed in 1812 1 by Lt. Isaac Bowman (1757-1826), a veteran of the Revolutionary War and the Indian wars in the West. Isaac Bowman was a scion of the pioneering Shenandoah Valley Bowman family and a grandson of Jost Hite, who is credited with having brought the first groups of European settlers from the Rhine River region to the northern Shenandoah Valley. Half a mile from Mount Pleasant, across a bend in Cedar Creek, is Harmony Hall, the stone manor house of Isaac Bowman’s father, George Bowman. After George Bowman’s death in 1768, Isaac, the youngest of George Bowman’s six sons, lived with his mother, Mary Hite Bowman, at Harmony Hall. In 1778 Isaac Bowman joined his older brother, Captain Joseph Bowman, in the Virginia regiment that had been formed to serve under George Rogers Clark in the Illinois campaign defending the Kentucky territory against British incursions from the north; he may have been present at the capture of Vincennes in 1779. Family tradition holds that Isaac Bowman was captured by Indians in November 1779 while traveling on the Ohio River. Accounts vary as to whether he was taken by Chickasaw or Illinois Indians and also as to whether he was escorting British prisoners from Kaskaskia to Williamsburg when he was captured or was accompanying a party of westward-bound settlers after his return from Ohio via Williamsburg. He spent several years in captivity before escaping (or being rescued—again, accounts vary) and returning to Fort Bowman in 1782.
Mount Pleasant, 292 Hite Lane, is a handsome, Federal-style, two-and-a-half-story, five-bay, brick house with limestone foundation, constructed in 1812 on a bluff above Cedar Creek three miles northeast of Strasburg at the northeastern edge of Shenandoah County, Virginia. The brick main section of the house has a limestone wing on the southeast side, which is probably of earlier construction (ca. 1790). Mount Pleasant is locally significant under National Register Criterion C for its strong Federal-style architecture. Except for the addition of a ca. 1930 of a screen-enclosed porch at the northwestern end of the brick main block and another screened porch across the front (south) side of the stone wing, the exterior of the house is little changed from its construction. The front and rear entrances were reversed ca. 1930 to conform to a change in the access road to the house. The interior retains its original layout and exceptionally fine original woodwork. The farm once contained 1,200 acres located on both sides of Cedar Creek, the dividing line between what are now Shenandoah and Warren counties. The nominated property encompasses approximately 107 acres, all located in Shenandoah County. The site contains nine buildings, seven of which are contributing: the main house (contributing), 1812: a brick smokehouse (contributing), ca. 1812; a brick garage with apartment (contributing), ca. 1930: a large frame bank barn with forebay (contributing), 1890-1900; a tenant house (contributing), 1920; and a tenant-house garage (contributing) in poor condition, 1920;, and a frame wagon shed/corncrib (contributing), ca. 1920. There are two non-contributing buildings: a ruinous frame chicken house, ca, 1920, and a frame goat shed, 1990. There are two structures, both contributing: an unused well with circular masonry wall, ca. 1920, and a trace of the original road, ca. 1790. Except for the original road trace, all the contributing resources are in good to fine condition. The period of significance begins in circa 1790 with the construction date of the earliest section of the dwelling and ends in circa 1930 when updates were made to the house.
The house has changed little since construction in 1812, except for the addition of the northwest porch wing and the two central entry porches, which reflect the reversing of front to rear of the entrances, constructed ca. 1930 as part of the rehabilitation of the property. The original construction by Isaac Bowman in 1812 is well documented. Shenandoah County Land Records show that a spike occurred between 1810 and 1814 in the value of only one of the tracts of more or less contiguous land owned by Isaac Bowman in Shenandoah County.
Over the ensuing years, down to the present, that tract, containing 66 acres (more or less) on Cedar Creek, consistently retains its higher value relative to the other tracts. The exterior of the main block of the house, two-and-a-half stories, center-hall, double-pile, executed in a restrained Federal style of the era, presents no difficult issues of analysis. However, the southeast kitchen wing, built in the traditional Germanic dressed-rubble limestone with a full basement and steep roof, is incompatible with the brick, Federal main block that it adjoins now through a connecting door from the dining room. It would be difficult to support this combination of materials as part of an integrated and sophisticated construction. It has often been regarded as having been built at the same time, however. But it is also probable that the stone wing was built before the main house. At that time it was not customary for kitchens or basements to be connected to the main part of the house, even if they adjoined it. In the Shenandoah Valley, as elsewhere, in an era of servants, separate kitchen buildings were not uncommon, even physically adjoining the main house, but unconnected. The crux of this
argument, then, is that the building appears to be of a different period and that there was no necessary connection at this era between the kitchen and the main house.
Complete Interior Descriptions
First Floor (12' ceiling)
Center Hall 32' x 10'
The first-floor center hall original front (northeast) door, 46 inches wide, has eight panels topped by an arched transom. The present front door is similar, but without the transom. Inside, the hall is divided into two parts by an elliptical archway with pilasters, which appear to be original. The staircase is U-shaped, two runs with a landing and an open-string. There is no stairway to the basement below the main stairs. The hall flooring has wide boards, generally 5 ½ inches wide, with an old walnut finish. The boards appear to be original. The interior door trim is typical of the Federal period, with geometric reed work above the arched transom, curved and reeded pilasters, and a full entablature and cornice above the transom. The hall walls have a flat plaster wainscoting with chair rail, which extends up the staircase. The hall doors are six-paneled with delicate Federal trim. The fancy decorative iron box locks, handles, and key plates probably date from the ca. 1930 rehabilitation. The key plates are similar in style to fancy mid-eighteenth century Germanic work and out of character for a Federal-style house such as this. There are traces of earlier locks in the wood of some door frames. The box locks themselves are possibly from an earlier period, with modifications. This description of locks applies throughout the house unless otherwise noted.
Parlor 20' x 19'
The formal parlor on the first floor is the largest room. It has a fine Federal mantelpiece flanked by large, paneled cupboards, which may have been added. At the front are a pair of windows with pilaster trim and fluted moldings and bulls-eye corner blocks. The mantelpiece has thin pairs of fluted columns and a base with balls supporting a large entablature and a small mantel shelf. The firebox has modern yellow firebrick, as do all rooms, now with plastered faces, and the original square-brick hearth. The wainscot and chair rail extend around the room, and the windows have angled recesses. The flooring is original 7-inch boards.
Study/Library 17' x 14'
On the right (southeast) side of the hall, adjoining the dining room through a connecting door, is a smaller room, a study or library. It has a fine Federal mantelpiece with fluted, engaged columns, an elliptical ray fan in the frieze and small elliptical carvings at the ends of the columns.
Bedroom 1 19' x 11' (Office/Servant’s Quarters)
The west room on the first floor is a small room with one door from the hall, located under the stair landing. This may originally have been an office, but with the ca. 1930 insertion of a bathroom, it became what is identified on the 1979 floor plan as the servant’s quarters. It originally had a fireplace that was removed for the bathroom addition.
Kitchen Wing 33' x 13'
The right or southeast wing is one large room 13 feet by 33 feet, 2 inches, divided into a kitchen and a sitting area with a large stone fireplace. One of the printed plans shows a pantry between the two sections, which was removed by 1979. Such a long room with three exterior doors would presumably have been built as more than one room, however. The southeastern end has a large stone fireplace with a deep, stone hearth. There are cabinets on each side of the fireplace, probably added ca. 1930. The fireplace has a large mantelpiece with molded frame and a small mantel shelf. The doors are six panels, and the windows are six-over-six-light, double-hung sash which are modern replacements of originals. The flooring is 13-inch-wide boards, unusually wide. There is no access to the attic, although it is probable that one previously existed, possibly just a ladder and a hatchway. There is no interior stair to the basement. The kitchen portion of the room has modern counters and cabinets, probably installed ca. 1979. On the southwest (now front) side is a late-nineteenth-century frame porch that was enclosed after 1964.
INTERIOR, SECOND FLOOR
The main block of the house has a full second story, while the wings have only one story. The stairs rise to a center hall and then continue up to the attic. The rear of the center hall was partially cut off, ca. 1930, to form two bathrooms, each opening from the hall with a six-panel door. The original exterior window opening was widened to provide two narrow double-hung windows with six-over-four-light wood sash. Of the four second-floor bedrooms, the left rear (north) room is the principal one, the largest, and situated over the first-floor parlor. There is a fine Federal-style mantelpiece flanked by a pair of arched recesses, which were probably added ca.1930.
To the front of the principal bedroom, accessible by a connecting door, is a small bedroom or dressing room. It opens to the hall at the midpoint of the attic stairs, an inconvenient change of levels suggesting that the room was not intended for primary use.
On the right (southeast) side of the second-floor hall are two more bedrooms. Both have fireplaces with Federal-style mantelpieces. In the ca. 1930 rehabilitation, a bathroom and two closets were inserted between these two rooms, narrowing each bedroom and with a narrow window inserted on the exterior wall for the bathroom. Each bedroom has a window on the southeast side, giving each three windows rather than two as in the other bedrooms.
Bedroom 2 17' x 14' - Wood floor, closet, fireplace with wood mantel, hanging lamp. 3 windows & private bathroom with ceramic tile floor & shower.
Bedroom 3 18' x 13' - Wood floor, closet, fireplace with wood mantel,chair rail, hanging lamp. 3 windows
Hall Bathroom 1 8' x 6' - Ceramic tile floor, bathtub.
Hall Bathroom 2 8' x 4' - Ceramic tile floor, shower.
Master Bedroom 20' x 19' - Wood floor, fireplace with wood mantel, chair rail, 2 alcoves, hanging lamp. 2 windows
Bedroom 5 19' x 12' - Wood floor, 2 chimney cupboards, fireplace with wood mantel, hanging lamp. 2 windows
The attic is divided into three rooms, plainly finished with plastered walls and ceiling and rough, wide-board floors.
There is a partial basement in the main block under the center hall and the southeast rooms. The basement walls support the walls of the rooms upstairs. There is no interior access to the first floor. Access to the exterior is only through a wide door on the southeast side of the house. The room under the upstairs study contains a large oil furnace; the room under the dining room holds four large oil storage tanks. The center space under the hall is used for storage, and the rooms are connected to each other. There are small basement windows in the southeast and northeast rooms and evidence of a former fireplace in the south room. There is a full basement under the southeast kitchen wing, with access to the outside on the southwest side by a wide door under the added porch. It is used only for storage. The walls are of dressed-rubble limestone, and there are small windows with vertical wood bars. The two basements are not connected to each other.
LARGE SCREENED PORCH
Well (Contributing Structure)
In front of the house to the southwest is a non-functioning well (ca. 1900) with a circular masonry wall and open, gable-roofed frame cover.
Garage (Contributing Building)
The one-story, two-car brick garage and apartment is located to the northwest of the main house and architecturally related to the ca. 1930 work on the property. Facing southwest, it relates to the new road that replaced the steep road up the cliff to the farm complex and the house. The building is in good condition, and the interior is being rehabilitated in 2010-2011. There is an irregular bay front and a plain gable roof of asphalt shingles. It has a workshop on the left end, a two-car garage in the center, and a small apartment, presumably for a chauffeur, on the right. There are two interior brick chimneys--one for the workshop and one for the quarters. The brick walls are laid in seven-course common bond. There is a box cornice. The garage floor is concrete; the apartment floor is wood.
Smokehouse (Contributing Building)
To the south in front of the house is the former smokehouse (ca. 1812) in fair condition. It is 14 feet 4 inches square, constructed of brick on a stone foundation with a low, pyramidal roof and a brick chimney on the southwest rear. A modern four-panel door is on the northeast side, and shuttered windows are on the sides of the building. The walls are laid in six-course common bond, and there is a plain, box cornice. The roof is covered in asphalt shingles. According to tradition, the smokehouse originally served as a fort; however, its small size makes this use questionable. Without evidence, however, it is also possible that the original use was a schoolroom or an outhouse.
Barn (Contributing Building)
Southeast of the main house is a group of farm buildings, particularly a large, 40-feet-by- 60- feet frame bank barn with projecting fore bay, built ca. 1890-1900. The barn is of heavy-timber frame construction, sheathed in vertical boards, and has a standing-seam metal roof. The barn structure sits on a partial foundation of limestone.
Wagon shed/Corn crib (Contributing Building)
Near the barn is a frame wagon shed/corn crib combination, ca. 1920. It has a gable roof covered in asphalt shingles. On the southeast side is a pair of wagon doors to the left and a single door to the right on the corn crib side, which is supported on masonry piers.
Tenant House (Contributing Building)
Southeast of the farm complex is the small, frame, four-bay tenant house, constructed ca. 1920 by the Davison family when they sold the main house. It has a gable roof and two brick interior chimneys. The entrance door is in the left bay, in a lower section with a hipped roof, which was probably originally a porch. The horizontal board siding here is wider than in the rest of the house, and there is a vertical strip between the third and fourth bays, indicating an old addition. The roof is covered in standing-seam metal.
Tenant House Garage (Contributing Building)
In the yard to the front of the tenant house is a deteriorated, frame, gable-roofed, one-car garage.
Goat Shed (Non-contributing Building)
To the northwest of the main house and separate from the other farm buildings is a tall, onestory frame, gable roof, irregular bay, goat shed built in 1990. The roofing and part of the walls are corrugated tin. The end gable facing the farm lane is sheathed in diagonal boards forming a V-shape. A paneled door on the side of the shed is one large opening for the goats.
Original Road Trace (Contributing Structure)
A rutted and unpaved trace of the original road from Hite Lane that extended up the bluff from Cedar Creek to the farm yard and Mount Pleasant house is still partially extant.
Central Block, Exterior
The main, or center, block was built in 1812 in the Federal style, with fine architectural details. It is constructed of brick and is two-and-a-half-stories high, with central-hall, double-pile plan. The house originally faced northeast toward a bluff over Cedar Creek, and the original entrance lane rose up along the bluff to this side of the house. Around 1930, the main entrance was moved to the southwest façade, the original rear entrance. Evidence of this change is in the handsome main staircase, framed in the hall by an elliptical arch that rises from the original front of the house, where the principal rooms are located. This description is based on the current orientation of the principal façade and entrance. The main block is 51 feet, 10 inches by 34 feet, 2 inches, with a five-bay front; the front and rear walls are laid in Flemish bond, four courses deep on the first floor and three courses above. The end walls are in six-course common bond. The foundation is in dressed-limestone rubble, and there is a basement under the center hall and southeast rooms.
Click and drag the orange silhouette in the top left corner of the map to activate Google Maps Street View.
$Temporarily Off Market