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July 15th, 2006
The Thomas Nelson house originally had 6 outbuildings but by the early 1900's, of those out buildings, only the kitchen and Chimney remained. There are still scars of the original home, which survived, from the siege of 1781. The house was built by Nelson's grandfather Thomas, in 1730. The Nelson family owned it till 1908. In 1968, the National Park Service took over ownership and restored it to the original 1781 period. The plaque says: His support towards political freedom from Great Britain began while a member of Virginia's Colonial Legislature. In addition to protesting British taxes, and leading Yorktown's tea party, patterned after the one in Boston, he was one of Virginia's delegates to the Continental Congress. In May 1776, he advocated that Virginia officially support independence-a proposal that helped lead to the Declaration of Independence, signed by Nelson and 55 others. Nelson continued to support the revolution through political channels and used his own funds to purchase military supplies. On June 12, 1781, he was elected the third governor of Virginia and faced the greatest challenge of his public career - the invasion of the British Army. As governor and general of his state's militia, Nelson participated in the Victory at Yorktown. One day after the British surrendered, Governor Thomas Nelson Jr., wrote to the Continental Congress: "the whole loss sustained by the Enemy . . . must be between 6 & 7000 men. This Blow, I think, must be a decisive one." In November 1781, Nelson resigned as governor, poor in health and debt. He died January 4th, 1789, and was buried next to his grandfather at Grace Church, just one block from his home.
Cornwallis had made his headquarters in 65 the Nelson house, which came under fire. At noon on October 10th, under a brief flag of truce, the Secretary was allowed to leave town despite that fact that he could provide the Allies with useful information.
Most of the Nelson House is original, including the bricks and most of the mortar in the outer walls. Inside the house, the wall panels and most of the wooden floors are original, the exception being the floor in the downstairs hall. The paint on the walls matches the color of the first paint applied after the house was constructed. The furnishings in the house today include reproductions and a few period pieces, none of which belonged to the Nelsons. The house tour is free, but don't touch! On the other side of the house, there is a cannonball still embedded to the top part of the home.
Left to right: 1) Thomas Nelson House 2) Side view of Thomas Nelson House 3) Gardens at the Thomas Nelson House. The photo above is distorted to make it fit right here, but click on it and it'll open up to a nicer panoramic view.
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