Behind the Lens: The Barboursville Ruins
Photos and musings from our photographer David Kidd.
James Barbour served as the governor of Virginia from 1812-1814, when he was elected to the U.S. Senate.
Thomas Jefferson was not only Barbour's friend and neighbor but also his architect.
The former president designed a house for Barbour in the Virginia countryside, about 20 miles northwest of Charlottesville and Jefferson's own Monticello estate. The Neo-Palladian-style home, which he named Barboursville, was completed in 1822.
After a long career in government, Barbour died at his home 19 years later. Decades later, fire swept through the house on Christmas Day, 1884, leaving some brick walls and columns but destroying everything else.
Today, the ruins have been stabilized and are now on the register of historic places. Visitors can picnic on the grounds, perhaps with a bottle of wine from the adjacent Barboursville Vineyards.
Not all of the residences of James Barbour met such an untimely fate. He was the first person to occupy the Virginia Governor’s Mansion in Richmond, the oldest executive home still in use today.