Lower Brandon Plantationon
The Brandon Plantation was established in 1616 by Captain John Martin who was one of the original leaders of the Virginia colony. Martin died in 1632 and his grandson, Captain Robert Bargrave, inherited the plantation. In 1637 merchants John Sadler, Richard Quiney, and William Barker bought Martin's Brandon, as it was then known, and they and their heirs farmed it until 1720 when it was sold to Nathaniel Harrison. American Revolutionary War Colonel Benjamin Harrison gained possession of the property and it remained in the Harrison family until it was sold to Robert Daniel in 1926. Daniel was a Richmond and New York banker and a survivor of the sinking of the Titantic. The property stayed in the Daniel family until 2013-14 after which it was bought by a family from Florida.
Photo by Jack Looney for the Philadelphia Enquirer
Robert W. Daniel, Sr. (1884-1940), owner 1926-40, Photo By Nara, National Archives, Public Domain
Built by Nathaniel Harrison between 1764- 74, Lower Brandon Plantation was oririginaly named "Martin's Brandon" after John Martin who was granted 7000 acres in 1616 for one of the first settlments outside of Jamestown. It was a site of the 1622 Indian Massacre where 7 people were killed. The house was built in an English Palladian style as a Roman country house. It was modeled on one of Robert Morris's architectural plates in Select Architecture (1755). The house is double-fronted facing the James River and inland. It was unusual for a Southern country house at the time to have a two storey high central unit decreasing to one-story hyphens. The wings were originally two separate four-room structures built around 1720. They were connected with the center structure when it was constructed starting around 1765. Harrison family tradition attributes the idea for the central structure and the overall scheme to Thomas Jefferson who had been a groomsman at a a wedding at the plantation in 1765. The interior has a great deal of wood paneling and an entrance hall bisected by a triple-arch screen. The hall was remodeled in the 19th century after it had been damaged during the Civil War. At the same time the present arcade and stair were added.. Daniel restored the old mansion and the gardens after he purchased the property in 1926. A pair of flanking buildings were built also in the 1920s and were used as a garage and game room.
Central Hall, photo by Alfred Wekelo, for Premiere Estates
Colonel Benjamin Harrison (1743-1807)
Grey Room, photo by Alfred Wekelo for Premiere Estates