Berry Hill

Berry Hill [Virginia]

By Bruce Williams Bruce. [written c. 1931]

Berry Hill, the home of Mr. and Mrs. Malcolm Graeme Bruce, is situated in Halifax County. The plantation was purchased by James Coles Bruce from his first cousin, Edward Coles Carrington, who inherited it from his uncle, Isaac Coles, who purchased it from Benjamin Harrison of Berkeley, in 1769. The present house was built by Mr. Bruce, and is one of the few old houses left in Virginia that has never been occupied by anyone but the descendants of its founder.

The house is of pure Doric [Greek Revival] architecture, and stands in a park of twenty acres, in the midst of towering oaks with fine box hedges on either side. It is said by Fiske Kimball to be the noblest model of its kind in the Southern States, and one of the very first of its kind in America. The walls are three feet thick. Eight massive columns, unholding the front portico, rise from a series of stone steps sixty feet wide. The beautiful hall is twenty-five feet wide and forty feet long. The most striking feature of its interior is the circular stairways rising on both sides of the hall, which meet on a landing and continue as one. In the parlor and library the mantels of carved Italian marble are particularly noticeable. The original wall paper in the parlor and dining room is still intact. In the rear of the house there is a colonnade two hundred feet long. The entire house contains twenty-seven rooms. Presenting a dignified and classic effect are the billiard room and office, miniatures of the mansion, on either side of the driveway.

The park is surrounded by a fine, stone wall. Unfortunuately the garden, which was planted under Mrs. Bruce's supervision, was destroyed, only some shrubs and boxwood remaining.

This article was first published in Frances Archer Christian and Susanne Massie, editors, Homes and Gardens in Old Virginia, Garrett and Massie, Incorporated, Richmond, VA, 1931.

Web edition copyright © 2002 Sarah E. Mitchell