On entering the portals of an extended lawn stretching for several hundred yards – and seeing the beautiful house with its Corinthian columns and boxwoods 40-feet tall – one feels as if approaching some enchanted haven of peaceful rest.
It is not until entering the inside hall, however, and looking to the rear that one is struck with the beauty of its luxurious space. The wide hall extends through the entire building – or rather both buildings, for Castle Hill is really two structures.
The brick building was built in 1824 by the Hon. William Cabell Rives, ambassador to France. The clapboard structure was built by Dr. Thomas Walker, who married Mildred Thornton Meriwether, widow of Nicholas Meriwether (The Younger). By this marriage, he came into nearly one-half of the Meriwether lands along the Southwest Mountains. (The other half went to Col. Robert Lewis, of Belvoir, who had married Jane Meriwether, daughter of Nicholas Meriwether II.) This part of the house was built in 1765, where once assembled such great men as Col. Peter Jefferson, father of the President, Gov. Thomas Nelson, President Madison and Gen. Washington. Dr. Walker was guardian to Thomas Jefferson. During his raid on Charlottesville in 1781, British Col. Tarleton stopped here in a vain attempt to capture Gov. Jefferson and his Legislature. An interesting account of this is found in “Genealogy of the Page Family of Virginia,” by Dr. R. C. M. Page, who also gives a history of the Walker family.
Judith Page Walker was born at Castle Hill in 1802. She married, March 24, 1819, the Hon. William C. Rives, U.S. Senator from Virginia and one of the most prominent statesmen of his day.
Amelie Rives married Prince Troubetskoy at Castle Hill and the wedding gown she had made in Paris is in Valentine Museum in Richmond. There are some fine works from the brushes of the late Amelie Rives in Castle Hill.
Castle Hill sits in calm repose, clothed with its intensely interesting associations and traditions, when its halls would be filled with many distinguished gatherings of the loved, the gifted, and the noble of our land, as well as from foreign shores.
CASTLE HILL, a Virginia Historic Landmark, is really two houses in one: the clapboard structure (above) was built in 1765 by D. Thomas Walker on land his wife, Mildred Thornton Meriwether, inherited. The brick structure (below) was added in 1824 by a descendant, Sen. William Cabell Rives.
“The President’s Letter”, Charlene O.Benne, Meriwether Connections, Vol. 2, No. 2, p. 5, April 1983.
Trancscribed 28 July 2009 by Joe M. Oglesby. Two small errors were corrected:
1) The first husband of Mildred Thornton was identified as Nicholas Meriwether III, son of Nicholas II; this is incorrect and it was Nicholas “The Younger”, son of William Meriwether and Elizabeth Bushrod who married Mildred.
2) It was stated that Robert Lewis married Jane Meriwether, “eldest daughter of Nicholas II”; while Jane was a daughter of Nicholas II, she was certainly not the “eldest.”
It is also not correct that Mildred inherited one-half of the Southwest Mountain tract of Nicholas II and Robert Lewis the other half. The large holdings were given out to many of the children and grandchildren of Nicholas II.
“Which Nicholas married Mildred Thornton?”, Maury W. Kendall, Meriwether Connection,…
The Southwest Mountain Tract of Nicholas Meriwether II”, Guy Meriwether Benson, Meriwether Connections,…