During the 17th century Carter’s Grove was part of the Martin’s Hundred Plantation. In the early 1720s, Robert “King” Carter purchased it and later named the tract Carter’s Grove. Between 1750 and 1755 Carter Burwell, grandson of Robert “King” Carter, built the Carter’s Grove mansion, a famous example of colonial Virginia plantation architecture. Burwell hired brickmason David Minitree to make and lay the brick; he brought Richard Baylis, an English joiner, to Virginia to execute the interior woodword, some of the handsomest of the era. The house stood almost unaltered until 1928 when it was renovated and enlarged by the architect W. Duncan Lee.
On April 10th of 1606, James I of England established the Virginia Company of London with the purpose of colonizing the eastern coast of North America. The first permanent English settlement, Jamestown was constructed on May 14th, 1607. As the English began to expand beyond Jamestown, Sir John Wolstenholme provided funding for the Wolstenholme Towne, located on the Martin’s hundred plantation. Established in 1620, Wolstenholme Towne at first had a population of 40 settlers and was located seven miles downstream from Jamestown.
The Indian Massacre of 1622 effectively decimated the new settlement, and nearly drove English settlers completely off the east coast of Virginia. The massacre killed three to four hundred settlers, and was organized by the Powhatan Confederacy’s leader ChiefOpenchakemhaque. Later on in the seventeenth century, Robert “King” Carter purchased property on the former Wolstenholme Towne. After Carter’s death, his daughter Elizabeth and her husband Nathaniel Burwell. The son of Elizabeth and Nathaniel, Carter Burwell was the first to build the now famous mansion, which stands on the property. Carter’s son Colonel Nathaniel Burwell moved to the plantation in 1771 where he farmed corn and wheat. Carter’s Grove stayed in the Burwell family until 1838. The last owner of the plantation was the wealthy Pittsburg industrialist Archibald McCrea. McCrea purchased it in 1928, but died in 1937. His widow remained at
Carter’s Grove for another twenty-five years until her death. The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation purchased the property in 1969 and was responsible for the grounds until 2007. On December 19th, of 2007 the founder of CNET, Halsey Minor purchased the estate and still lives there today.
Hatch, Charles E., and Virginia 350th Anniversary Celebration Corporation. The First Seventeen Years, Virginia, 1607-1624. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1957.
Levy, Andrew. The First Emancipator: The Forgotten Story of Robert Carter, the Founding Father Who Freed His Slaves. Random House Digital, Inc., 2005.
Morgan, Timothy E. Williamsburg: A City That History Made. Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2004.
Gleach, Frederic W. Powhatan’s World and Colonial Virginia: A Conflict of Cultures. Nebraska: U of Nebraska Press, 2000.
Historical Marker “Carter’s Grove W-50,” courtesy of Lindsey Smith, 2012.
“Robert ‘King’ Carter,” National History Education Clearing House, www.teachinghistory.org (accessed May 2, 2012).
“Carter’s Grove Plantation,” Virginia Runaways: Views of the Reconstructed Slave Quarter Houses at Carter’s Grove Near Williamsburg, courtesy of Tom Costa, http://people.uvawise.edu (accessed May 2, 2012).