Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Carter's Grove mansion sells for $15.3 million

By Michelle Washington The Virginian-Pilot © December 20, 2007

Opulent house of the Virginia Planter Plutocrats

"King" Carter's slave hovel, what a contrast between the enslaved uncompensated enslaved workers and the men that enriched themselves on the backs of slave labor.

Carter's Grove Plantation, an 18th-century mansion built by one of Virginia's most influential early families, has been sold to an Internet entrepreneur and Virginia native.

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, which owned the site for almost 40 years, announced Wednesday that Halsey Minor paid $15.3 million for the Georgian-style mansion and 400 acres.

A conservation easement will prohibit commercial and residential development and protect and preserve the mansion and archaeological sites on the property, the foundation said in a news release.

The General Assembly of Virginia Prohibits the Teaching of Slaves,Free Negroes, or Mulattoes to Read or Write, 1831

Minor also purchased 76 acres adjoining the property. The release said he plans to use the mansion as a private residence and use the site as a center for a thoroughbred horse-breeding program.

The house sits on the banks of the James River, about 8 miles from Williamsburg. The house was completed in 1755 for Carter Burwell, a member of a prestigious Virginia family. It stayed in his family for about 80 years, then passed through nine other owners. The foundation purchased the 35-room, two-story plantation home and land in 1969.

In 2002, the foundation cited financial pressure in announcing it would close the plantation. Then, in 2006, the foundation announced it would sell the property provided it could ensure its protection from development. The foundation said the sale's proceeds would go toward its education programs.

The release quoted Colin Campbell, president and chairman of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

"Halsey Minor's respect for the property, his determination to protect it for the long term and his intended use are clear indications that he will be a fine steward of Carter's Grove," Campbell said.

Minor, 43, founded CNET, an Internet publishing company, and has backed a number of successful ventures since then. The Charlottesville native graduated in 1987 from the University of Virginia, where he majored in anthropology.

Carter-Grove bedroom in the "big house"

The bedroom of "King" Carter's unpaid labor

In the release, Minor said he had long admired the plantation.

"I have three simple goals," Minor said: "to provide for the preservation of the property, its structures and historical artifacts; enrich the understanding of Carter's Grove by developing additional research programs that complement those previously performed by Colonial Williamsburg; and to disseminate the newly gathered information so that we may add to the understanding of this historical treasure and its surrounding area and ultimately provide for a richer understanding of American history."


  1. Wow, great post. Slavery was the one thing in school that really caught my attention. These are great pictures! I can't believe how much the mansion sold for. I was doing research on Halsey Minor when I came across your post. I think its great that he wants to provide for the preservation of the property. Thanks so much for sharing.

    1. Wow. I've been reading more on this subject, and my deepest fears for this historically significant piece of real estate seem to be materializing. The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation should have NEVER sold the Carter's Grove Plantation. If they were having problems financially, they should have endowed it to one of the universities in the area, like Thomas Jefferson's University of Virginia, or Yale (it has the Gilder Center for Slavery), or Virginia Tech (built on the land of a slave pen), or William and Mary College, or the National Park Service -- Now, Mr. CNET is broke and the grounds and buildings are in disrepair. What a waste!

      --Ron Edwards, US Slave Blog

  2. I drove by Carter's Grove one time when I was visiting my friend in Virginia and he mentioned to me that Halsey Minor used to own it. Really can't believe how much it sold for! It's great that he tried to preserve the look of it because of its historical significance.

    1. I'm glad you're doing research. These artifacts need too be preserved, they are becoming a vanishing piece of American history.

      But, to my understanding, the Carter Grove Mansion/Plantation used to be open to the public as a living history place, much like Colonial Williamsburg. Now, its a private residence of some IT developer. The land had been preserved for years by the Rockefeller Foundation and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. I'm sure when the stock market hit the skids and the bottom fell out of the real estate market, the charitable trusts cut their funding and sold it to the highest bidder.

      I don't have any inside information on that, but if you watch the timelines of the current economic history in this country, it would be easy to make that leap.

      As an avid history buff, I'm a bit miffed that this 700+ acre plantation has been taken away from the American public. It is a very significant piece of real estate in
      American history, given that it was the location settled by English Colonist in 1620. The archaeological record would be fascinating! Especially given the confluence of the Powhatan Indians, the 17th Century English, and the first Africans in North America (under English rule, St. Augustine in Florida would show an earlier presence of African slaves under Spanish rule). That being said, I'm just saddened by the public's loss of such a treasure.

      Good luck with your research!

      --Ron Edwards, US Slave Blog



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