Biz to Go: Historic Va. home on market for first time

Black Walnut Plantation in Halifax County, which dates to the mid-1700s, is on the market for the first time. The house sits on 775 acres and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

A piece of history in Halifax County that comes with 775 acres and a nearly 5,400-square-foot house is being offered for sale for the first time.

Black Walnut Plantation, a historic plantation home and farm dating to the mid-1700s, is on the market for $2.05 million.

“It’s been in our family since before the Revolutionary War,” said John Thrift, nephew to the last person who lived in the house.

Thrift recalls spending summers at the plantation with his grandparents, picking blackberries, fishing and attending grand parties there. The family homestead was the site for family get-togethers, including the weddings of three of Thrift’s cousins.

The only Civil War battle in Halifax was fought on original Black Walnut property.

Black Walnut Plantation was part of a 1741 land grant. Mathew Sims purchased 3,100 acres in 1768 and, while the land was divided and parceled over the years, Sims and his heirs have lived on the Black Walnut portion ever since.

“It’s been a difficult decision to put it on the market, but we can’t give it the love and attention it deserves,” said Thrift, adding that most of the family has moved from the area.

“It’s a distinctive property and one of the last in the county to keep and maintain a collage of (outbuildings) — a cookhouse, a dairy, tobacco barns, a privy, two smokehouses, a slave quarters and a schoolhouse,” Thrift said.

While many farmhouses were razed during the tobacco boom in the 1840s, ’50s and ’60s, this rambling house — at 2091 Black Walnut Road in Randolph — was expanded over the years, he said.

Black Walnut Plantation is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The manor house features original window panes and brass and wood locks.

The first section was built from 1774 to 1790. In 1848, a two-story frame addition was built parallel to the house, giving it an overall “H” shape.

In 1939, Black Walnut was visited by legendary film actress Mary Pickford, the queen for the National Tobacco Festival. Dinner that day, served in the mansion garden, was fried chicken, black-eyed peas and ham biscuits.

Renovations were done in the 1950s. A sun porch and bathroom were added in the early 2000s.

The last occupant, Tucker Carrington Watkins IV, a Purple Heart and Bronze Star recipient, died in 2012.

His heirs are selling the property.

“It’s a very unique and special property,” said Rebecca “Honey” Davis, the listing agent with Long & Foster.

“The home is really, really pretty,” Davis said. But it needs total general restoration, not just cosmetic work but upgraded plumbing, heating, air and electrical work, she said.

The house has a wood furnace, gas fireplaces and electric baseboard heat.

Carol Hazard

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