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[photo] Tuckahoe plantation house, noted for its H-shaped plan
Photos courtesy of Virginia Department of Historic Resources

Tuckahoe plantation was established by William Randolph of Turkey Island, for his second son, Thomas, and is noteworthy for its unusual H-shaped plan and overall setting. Thomas Randolph came to Tuckahoe in the early 1700s and built a claiming house, that no longer stands on the grounds. Thomas Randolph probably built the north wing in 1723 and his son William Randolph probably built the south wing and the connector in 1734 upon his marriage to Maria Judith Page of Rosewell. The resulting H-plan of the main house was not common in the plantation homes of colonial Virginia. The ornately carved woodwork throughout the house was likely added during the 1730s expansion. The name "Tuckahoe" derives from the Algonquin word "ptuckweoo," which directly translates to "it is round," but was more commonly used to describe the aquatic and bog plants that provided starch in the diet of American Indians.

[photo] Plantation "street," from left to right—storehouse, two slave quarters and kitchen
Photo courtesy of Virginia Department of Historic Resources

North of the main house is a row of early surviving outbuildings, or a plantation "street," that includes a storehouse, smokehouse, barn, kitchen and plantation office. The street also includes two excellently preserved slave quarters, both two-room, one-and-a-half story frame houses with central chimneys and lofts above. Opposite the "street" is the schoolhouse that Thomas Jefferson first attended, until age nine. His father, Peter Jefferson, was the executor of William Randolph's will, and the Jefferson family lived at Tuckahoe for seven years until William's son was grown and able to take over the property. The property remained in the Randolph family through the first three decades of the 19th century. Only two other families owned and cared for Tuckahoe until it was acquired by Isabelle and Nehemiah Addison Baker in 1935. Today their descendents open the home to the public for tours.

Tuckahoe, a National Historic Landmark, is located in Goochland County at 12601 River Rd. (County Rte. 650), on the south side of VA Rte. 6. The grounds are open daily for self-guided tours; guided house tours can be arranged by appointment. There is an admission fee. Please call 804-784-5736 or visit the Tuckahoe plantation website for further information. Tuckahoe has also been documented by the Historic American Buildings Survey.

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