4317
Richmond
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
Length
6 days
Starts at
899
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6 days
5 nights
14 meals
5 B 5 L 4 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
Check-In, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Richmond
D
Omni Richmond Hotel

Afternoon: Welcome to Richmond! Check-in is 3:30 PM for your hotel room, at the hotel's lobby desk. Road Scholar registration is 3:30-5:00 PM - look for us at a table in the hotel lobby..

Dinner: Dinner at the hotel in the second floor dining area. Plated entrées are served with a Virginia green salad, vegetables, dinner rolls and butter, and dessert, with choice of coffee, decaffeinated coffee, or iced tea.

Evening: Orientation and introductions.

DAY
2
Classes, Field trip to Shockoe Slip and Capitol
Richmond
B,L,D
Omni Richmond Hotel

Activity note: Afternoon walk of about 3/4 mile over some uneven surfaces such as cobblestone and brick, with some inclines, and several stairs.

Breakfast: Breakfast in the hotel first floor dining area is a Buffet with choice of fresh fruits, yogurts, organic and gluten free cereals, bread and butter bar featuring oven-baked fresh breads and bakery selections, farm fresh eggs and omelets cooked to order, bacon and sausage, breakfast potatoes, coffee or tea and choice of juice.

Morning: We make every effort to keep our schedules as we've listed them here. However, sometimes we may have to modify time of day or the day itself to fit an instructor's availability. Please be aware that there may not be a free afternoon in this program; there is one free evening, and you will have time to relax each day, but there is no large block of free time in the afternoons. 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. Our first class session looks at the importance of river travel for colonial settlers and provides an overview of Virginia’s history and architecture. Our guest speaker is renowned for the many-layered maps he draws and for his wealth of stories. Along the way we’ll learn about the settlements of Jamestown, famously established on the James River in 1607, and Henricus, the second town established in 1611 upriver from Jamestown. Next we’ll speak of the plantation, a different kind of settlement, held by a single family and with the focal point the grand house, around which the outbuildings and grounds were arrayed. Land was granted by the Royal Governor by headright, which allowed scions to gain more land by importing indentured servants and slaves, the immigrants who did the physical work. As structures the great James River houses are interesting to compare because each has its own materials and styles, interior and exterior, reflecting the families who built and lived in them. In addition the way each estate is preserved and interpreted today is different.

Lunch: At the hotel dining area, we’ll have a tasty lunch with either a plated entrée served with sides and rolls and butter, or offerings such as choice of salads with dressing options, soup, deli sandwiches. Served with dessert and choice of coffee, tea, or water.

Afternoon: After lunch we set off on foot for our first Field Trip, to explore Shockoe Slip and the Virginia State Capitol. Shockoe Slip is a revitalized historic neighborhood adjacent to the hotel, with many 19th century buildings, as well as a piazza with a fountain. At its lower end Shockoe Slip faces the restored Kanawha Canal and just beyond it is the furthest point of navigation on the James River, which kept all early settlement between here and the coast. We’ll talk about the rapids as a barrier to westward movement for the first century of colonization, and how that barrier was breached. Next we go to the Capitol. This living landmark of American self-government has been home to the General Assembly — the oldest legislature continuously operating in the Western Hemisphere — since 1788. The capitol was designed by Thomas Jefferson, inspired by classical Roman temple design, and has served as a prototype for countless capitols, courthouses, municipal buildings, churches, and even residences for more than 200 years. Houdon’s life-size marble of George Washington has stood in the Capitol rotunda since 1790 and is widely considered the best representation of our first President. We'll be conducted through the underground exhibit area up into the building by a Capitol guide who will cover the building’s architecture, art, and history.

Dinner: The group will go together to a Shockoe Slip restaurant for dinner, enjoying the 19th C. brick, wood, and iron charm of a place such as Sam Miller’s Café or the Tobacco Company. The plated meal will include dessert and a beverage choice of tea, ice tea, coffee, or water, and with other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Learn about the lifestyle, culture and traditions at 18th and 19th century plantations.

DAY
3
Berkeley & Shirley Plantations, Tavern Lunch, Class
Richmond
B,L,D
Omni Richmond Hotel

Activity note: Walking at the plantations includes surfaces that are not paved, grassy, uneven terrain and going up and down steps. The plantation grounds have limited barrier-free access. Cameras are not permitted in the Houses.

Breakfast: Breakfast in the hotel first floor dining area is a Buffet with choice of fresh fruits, yogurts, organic and gluten free cereals, bread and butter bar featuring oven-baked fresh breads and bakery selections, farm fresh eggs and omelets cooked to order, bacon and sausage, breakfast potatoes, coffee or tea and choice of juice.

Morning: We’ll board our coach for a full-day field trip to Berkeley and Shirley plantations in Charles City, approximately 25 miles. We will first go to Berkeley, where the plantation guide will assemble us in the basement museum and then conduct us through the mansion, talking both about the materials of the house and life within it. After, we’ll explore the grounds on our own. Of all the estates we’ll visit this week, Berkeley’s history includes the widest range of historically interesting events. The site of a Virginia Thanksgiving before the landing of the Pilgrims, the Georgian-style manor was also the seat of the Harrison family and birthplace to William Henry Harrison ("Tippecanoe"), who became the 9th U.S. President in 1841. Later, during its occupation by Union forces in the Civil War, the bugle-tune “Taps” was composed at Berkeley.

Lunch: Lunch at a local tavern in Charles City Courthouse.

Afternoon: After lunch we’ll head up the road to Shirley, Virginia's oldest plantation and recognized as an architectural treasure for its 3-story "flying" staircase—the only one of its kind in America—as well as for several centuries of newlyweds etching their initials in windows. Shirley has been owned by the Carter family for over 300 years—original oil portraits grace the walls of the house—and the ups and downs of that long tenure have meant there are many tales to tell.

Dinner: Dinner at the hotel in the second floor dining area. Plated entrées are served with a Virginia green salad, vegetables, dinner rolls and butter, and dessert, with choice of coffee, decaffeinated coffee, or iced tea.

Evening: Class: Learn about the history and architecture of the Capitol of Virginia, which was designed by Thomas Jefferson, Virginia's second governor.

DAY
4
Field trip to Wilton House and Henricus Settlement, Class
Richmond
B,L
Omni Richmond Hotel

Activity note: Wilton House has steps and stairs, at Henricus are unpaved pathways.

Breakfast: Breakfast in the hotel first floor dining area is a Buffet with choice of fresh fruits, yogurts, organic and gluten free cereals, bread and butter bar featuring oven-baked fresh breads and bakery selections, farm fresh eggs and omelets cooked to order, bacon and sausage, breakfast potatoes, coffee or tea and choice of juice.

Morning: This morning we’ll go to the Wilton House, an 18th century mansion that survived the Civil War only to go into decline before being saved from demolition and moved, brick by brick, rebuilt and restored by the Society of Colonial Dames. The house serves as an example of Georgian architecture and has hosted a wide variety of important historical figures, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and General Lafayette. The house currently serves as the headquarters of the Colonial Dames and we’ll spend some time learning about its architectural features and exhibitions of historically relevant art.

Lunch: Lunch will be a picnic in the park.

Afternoon: After lunch, our field trip will continue to Henricus Settlement on the James River, just south of Richmond. While the actual site was removed during the Civil War by the excavation for the Dutch Gap Canal, today the recreated village functions with costumed historical re-enactors replicating the 1611-12 fortified town that was the second English settlement after Jamestown. There we’ll learn about the early settlers’ interaction with the Native Americans, how they constructed their settlement, and about the goals of the college that was established at the settlement.

Dinner: Dinner this evening is on your own, at one of the many nearby restaurants in Shockoe Slip or perhaps farther afield.

Evening: Class on History, Architecture and Plantations

DAY
5
Tuckahoe Planatation, Museum of Fine Arts, Music performance
Richmond
B,L,D
Omni Richmond Hotel

Breakfast: Breakfast in the hotel first floor dining area is a Buffet with choice of fresh fruits, yogurts, organic and gluten free cereals, bread and butter bar featuring oven-baked fresh breads and bakery selections, farm fresh eggs and omelets cooked to order, bacon and sausage, breakfast potatoes, coffee or tea and choice of juice.

Morning: This morning we’ll hop back on our bus and head to Tuckahoe Plantation, the boyhood home of Thomas Jefferson. A local expert will discuss the plantation’s colonial-era gardens and cedar-lined lanes that reflect the grandeur of the period. Unusual because of its H-shaped plan and overall setting, Tuckahoe is considered to be America's finest existing example of an early 18th century plantation. We'll explore the House, which contains ornately carved woodwork and staircases, and the grounds, with its "plantation street" featuring a storehouse, smokehouse, barn, kitchen, plantation office, slave quarters, and the schoolhouse Jefferson attended as a child. This famous plantation is often used as a setting in films, yet Tuckahoe has been a home and working farm for nearly 275 years.

Lunch: Lunch at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in the Best Cafe.

Afternoon: Our second stop on our field trip will be one of Richmond's treasures that contains treasures of its own: the splendid Museum of Fine Arts, which recently re-opened after four years of renovation and expansion. The VMFA is now one of the top ten comprehensive art museums in the US, displaying more than 5,000 years of art from around the world. Explore numerous permanent galleries connected by a 4-story atrium designed by London-born architect, who now resides in Oregon. The VMFA also contains a sculpture garden, reflecting pools, focus galleries for changing exhibits, a cafe and a restaurant, and a museum shop. Information on special exhibits, collections and upcoming events is at www.vmfa.museum

Dinner: Dinner at the hotel in the second floor dining area. Plated entrées are served with a Virginia green salad, vegetables, dinner rolls and butter, and dessert, with choice of coffee, decaffeinated coffee, or iced tea.

Evening: You won't want to miss the entertainment tonight, which has music typical of early Virginia. You'll learn a lot of history, too...and some really tall tales. How will you know which ones to believe?

DAY
6
Final Class, Program Concludes
Richmond
B,L

Breakfast: Breakfast in the hotel first floor dining area is a Buffet with choice of fresh fruits, yogurts, organic and gluten free cereals, bread and butter bar featuring oven-baked fresh breads and bakery selections, farm fresh eggs and omelets cooked to order, bacon and sausage, breakfast potatoes, coffee or tea and choice of juice.

Morning: Enjoy the final program class on Richmond History, Architecture and Plantations

Lunch: Lunch with either a plated entrée served with sides and rolls and butter, or offerings such as choice of salads with dressing options, soup, deli sandwiches. Served with dessert and choice of coffee, tea, or water. Departure after lunch.