After a chilly evening in our one-bedroom cabin on the 13th, we visited the Francis Land House which was constructed in 1805 for the Land family. The 206 year old, all brick mansion is the only surviving structure remaining from the grounds of the original plantation. Six generations of the Land family lived in or owned the home and the grounds until the year 1950 when the grounds were sold to a man who converted it to an upscale ladies and children’s dress shop. During this time, many renovations were done to the original structure- most importantly the transformation of a bedroom into a kitchen because the original kitchen would have been in a separate outhouse for fear of kitchen fires spreading to the rest of the house.
When the house was sold to the city of Virginia Beach in 1975 they spent nearly ten years renovating the home, purchasing antiques to stock it with, and adding a gift shop which is the white building seen in the pictures. Today, the main level of the home is preserved as a museum and the upper level serves as offices.
The main house is about half the size of the Hampton Mansion we visited the other day, which reinforces the idea that the Horry’s and Pinckney’s were living a more than extravagant lifestyle. We have identified several themes or social rituals that may have guided everyday life on the plantations; these are- a family’s affair with honor and reputation, individuals falling short of the South’s expectations (or those that fulfill and exceed them), and the struggle for power in society which lies at the heart of the planter class in the Old South.