Past is Prologue

Clint Schemmer writes about history, heritage preservation and the American Civil War.  On Facebook: Past is Prologue  On Twitter: @prologuepast  ContactEmail Clint or call 540/374-5424.

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Fredericksburg’s St. James House opens to public

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The home that many consider to be Fredericksburg’s finest 18th-century jewel will be open to the public–a rare event–on Monday, April 19th.

If you have a chance to stop by for a tour and a look at exquisite furnishings of the St. James’ House, by all means, take the time.

Built in the 1760s by James Mercer, the attorney for Mary Washington–George’s mother–the St. James’ House has been lovingly restored and is now owned by Preservation of Virginia (formerly the APVA). Furnished with an outstanding collection of 18th-century antiques, it  is open only a few times each year.  Along with fine 17th- and 18th-century porcelains, brass, pewter, and noteworthy portraits, visitors can see a grandfather’s clock that belonged to American statesman Daniel Webster.

A charming example of a gentleman’s home, St. James’ was built on lots that George Washington bought from his brother-in-law, plantation owner Fielding Lewis, the builder of Kenmore. The deed included the promise of “one peppercorn (annually) upon the feast day of St. Michael the Archangel.”  Washington sold the lots to his friend James Mercer, who built the house in the 1760s.

Admission to the St James’ House costs $3 for adults or $1 for students.  For details, call 540/373-1569.

The house is at at 1300 Charles Street, a few doors down from the Mary Washington House.

Preservation Virginia’s website for the property is