The James River Plantations and Their Culture
From historic plantations to the Jefferson-designed Capitol, from presidential homes to the Museum of Fine Arts, discover renowned culture, architecture and art along the James River.
Rating (5)
Program No. 4317RJ
6 days
Starts at
Getting There
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At a Glance

In the period when Virginia was first settled, roads were few. The efficient means of travel was by water, on the rivers that reached inland from Chesapeake Bay. Colonial Virginia society centered on the settlements and great estates on the river shores. Join us to examine the cultural legacies of early Virginia: the elegant style of the houses, the family heirs who were leaders in the Revolution and the stratified social order that copied the English class system and instituted slavery.
Activity Level
On Your Feet
Standing and walking on uneven terrain and climbing stairs, including upper floors of historic houses. Limited barrier-free access at some sites.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Learn about the history and architecture of colonial Virginia, including the settlement that came after Jamestown, Henricus and the crown’s system that assigned scions land for importing residents.
  • Visit venerable 18th-century homes that show the panorama of life for the elite and for the rest: Tuckahoe, the boyhood home of Thomas Jefferson, Berkeley and Shirley plantations and Wilton House.
  • Explore Virginia's exquisite Jefferson-designed Capitol and the expanded and stylish Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
Featured Expert
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Jeffrey F Ruggles
Jeffrey Ruggles is a historian and photographer whose specialities include the history of Virginia and 19th-20th century popular culture. He has published a book on photography and a biography of Henry Box Brown. His professional background includes curator at Virginia Historical Society, gallery exhibitions, and permanent installations. Jeffrey also owned and operated a popular restaurant in Richmond's Shockoe Bottom for a number of years.
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Scott Walker
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Catherine DODSON
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Jeffrey F Ruggles
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