“an estate located on the north bank of the James River”
Evelynton was originally part of William Byrd's expansive Westover Plantation. Named for Byrd's daughter, Evelyn, this site has been home to the Ruffin family since 1847. The family patriarch, Edmund Ruffin, fired the first shot of the Civil War at Fort Sumter. His later agricultural contributions--from scientific soil testing to the publication of The Farmer's Register--rescued l9th-century Virginia from a declining agricultural economy, and earned him the title "father of American agronomy." Evelynton was the site of fierce Civil War skirmishes in 1862, when General George McClellan waged his destructive Peninsula Campaign; J.E.B. Stuart, Stonewall Jackson and John Pelham bravely led the Southern offensive in the Battle of Evelynton Heights. The original house and out-buildings were burned during that conflict, and the current residence was erected two generations later by Edmund Ruffin's great grandson, John Augustine Ruffin, Jr. and his wife Mary Ball Saunders. Architect W. Duncan Lee, who completed a brilliant restoration of Carters Grove in Williamsburg, designed the Georgian Revival manor house in 1937. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Today, the 2,500-acre farm is still family owned and operated. The house and grounds at this time are closed.
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