Fairfield plantation was a historic tobacco plantation from 17th century Colony of Virginia, owned by the Burwell family of Virginia from 1642 to 1787. The house was destroyed in 1897 due to fire. It is now an archaeological site that also includes slave quarters, a large formal garden, and the Burwell family cemetery. Archaeological research has been led by the Fairfield Foundation archaeologists David Brown And Thane Harpole.
|Nearest city||White Marsh, Virginia|
|Area||220 acres (89 ha)|
|Built by||Lewis Burwell (1621–1653)|
|NRHP reference No.||73002019|
|Added to NRHP||July 16, 1973|
|Designated VLR||February 20, 1973|
|Map of Fairfield within Colonial Virginia|
Built in 1694, the brick manor at Fairfield was described as what was once "the most sophisticated sophisticated classical house built in British North America to that date" by Cary Carson, retired Colonial Williamsburg research chief. It was built to emulate the houses of the gentry in London.
The house had Flemish-bond brick walls and a 62-foot veranda on the front of the structure that overlooked the large formal garden. It had extra-large rectangular sash windows, and the first known use of a hipped roof with dormers in the colony. At the time the house was built, most of the other buildings were built on posts sunk in the earth. Fairfield Plantation became a National Register of Historic Places listing on July 16, 1973. It is also a Virginia Historic Landmark as of February 20, 1973.
The size of the plantation and the slave population grew in tandem at the end of the seventeenth century as Lewis Burwell (1652-c.1710) inherited land, political connections, and slaves from relatives and business associates. Lewis II took sole control of the property after his mother's death in 1677. As a tobacco plantation and focal point for trade along Carter's Creek, Fairfield was profitable and perfectly situated in a fast-growing county just over a half day's travel from the new capital of Williamsburg. Fairfield reached its apex as a prominent Virginia home and plantation during the first half of the eighteenth century. The land was managed by five different people over that time, but all were focused on maintaining the agricultural profitability of the plantation while experimenting with crop diversification and introducing large scale cattle and animal husbandry. By the end of the century, though, the Burwell family was overwhelmed by debt. The plantation's enslaved population adapted to their new roles in the fields and around the manor house, but many were sold to plantations in the west and south. As surrounding tracts were sold to pay creditors, Fairfield shrank, consolidating the remaining labor force on a much smaller parcel surrounding the manor house. Little is known about the fate of Fairfield's slaves when the plantation was sold in 1787, although some were purchased by neighbors and may have remained in the area.
|Dates of ownership||Owner|
|1648-1653||Lewis Burwell (1621–1653)|
|1653-1665||Lucy Higginson Burwell (d. 1675) and William Bernard (d. 1665)|
|1665-1675||Lucy Higginson Burwell Bernard (d. 1675) and Philip Ludwell|
|1675-1710||Lewis Burwell (1652-c.1710) (moved to Kings Creek c. 1707)|
|1710–1721||Nathaniel Burwell (1680–1721) (managed beginning c. 1707)|
|1721–1734||Robert “King” Carter (d. 1732), administrator of Nathaniel Burwell's estate|
|1734–1756||Lewis Burwell IV/I (1710–1756)|
|1756–1779||Lewis Burwell (1711–1756) (1737–1779)|
|1779–1787||Lewis Burwell (b. 1764)|
|1787–1816||Robert Thruston (1759–1816)|
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
- "Fairfield Plantation, Gloucester County". Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Retrieved 2021-10-14.
- "Fairfield Plantation". Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery (DAACS). Retrieved 2021-10-15.
- Erickson, Mark St John. "Saving the lost landscape of a long-overlooked part of early Virginia". dailypress.com. Retrieved 2021-10-15.
- "Fairfield Plantation (Gloucester County)". Colonial Virginia Portraits. Retrieved 2021-10-14.
- "Fairfield Foundation". Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. Retrieved 2021-10-15.
- "Plantations". DAACS. Archived from the original on 2012-06-26. Retrieved 2012-10-05.
- Lee, Christopher F. "Lewis Burwell (1651 or 1652–1710)". Encyclopedia Virginia. Retrieved 5 August 2015.
- Tarter, Brent. "Lewis Burwell (d. by 1779)". Encyclopedia Virginia. Retrieved 5 August 2015.
- Fairfield Plantation and the Emergence of an African-American Community. Fairfield Foundation. 2009.