Our first full day in Richmond, Virginia proved to be more than overwhelming. We traveled scenic Route 5 which runs parallel to the James River. Route 5 features over 30 historical markers, from churches to extravagant plantations, several of which we visited, many of which we will try to catch on the journey back to Birmingham.
Salem Church- If the church was still standing it would be one of the oldest Methodist churches in the United States. Salem Church was used as a hospital for both the Confederate Army and the Union soldiers in 1864 and the grounds later served as a cemetery for many Confederate soldiers- some buried alongside their wives or nurses.
Westover Plantation- The Westover, built in 1730 by William Byrd II (founder of Richmond), is surrounded by tulip poplars that are over 150 years old. The front door is just steps from the James River and there is even a “secret” underground passageway that runs from beneath the right side of the home to the left most end of the home near the riverbank. Today, Westover is still a fully functioning farm producing mostly corn instead of their original money maker tobacco. The Byrds were very proud of their name and reputation and they displayed it in various ways on the grounds- usually through the image of an eagle or a bird’s wings on an ornate background.
Sherwood Forest Plantation- The main home of John Tyler, the 10th president of the United States, is found on the grounds of the Sherwood plantation, along with several original outbuildings dating from 1680 to 1850. When President Tyler retired from the White House in 1845 to Sherwood Plantation the self-sufficient community of over 100 people he continued to “practice law” in the Gray Room, amateur architecture in the Drawing Room, and leisure reading in the Colonnade. President Tyler even created a pet cemetery for his many dogs, horses, and a goat that a buried among the 3,500 acres that comprise the plantation.