The Tie that Binds

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Great look at the latest generation

I visited these three homes yesterday and had no idea that Westover was lived in by the family--it isn't at all clear when you are there. It appears to be owned by the state because of how it is set up--like a state park. It is really amazing to learn that the Erda family are living on the property and caring for it in the way that they are. Thank you for the photographs and the story of the Erdas.
Berkeley was the most interesting to visit because of the amazing tour guide. However, it was hard to tell if what he was telling us was really true. It seemed a little bit embellished. From this article it seems clear that he told us stories with a grain of truth. Again, thank you for this interview with Cary Jamieson. Berkeley has an incredible, almost unbelievable story, which needs no embellishment.
Shirley was utterly amazing in its collection of portraits. No mention was made of how unusual the layout of both the house and grounds are. It is more like visiting a home in England than in the US because it is such an early style. When we were about to start our tour I think the family must have been going in, because the tour guide said something. I didn't fully understand until reading this. You never would have known.
As the owner of a historic home which occupies all of our spare time and more than its share of our family's financial resources I can partially understand these families' sacrifice. Thank you so much for keeping these lovely homes as they are. They are beyond beautiful and so important. Thank you, thank you.

Laura E. Zimmermann more than 4 years ago


Marrisa Hermanson, great job leaving out the whole slavery thing. That part of the history of these plantations is totally inconsequential.

Jamel Johnson more than 6 years ago

Missing from the Story

I agree with an earlier comment that there should have been some discussion of the generations of enslaved workers who lived, raised families, died and were buried on these landholdings, and whose labor went into building the wealth of the homes' owners, then and now. Preserving history is important, and I have visited these homes and admire the current families' and foundation's work to do so. But I'm also the descendant of slaves--as well as slaveowners--so I cannot help but feel that a crucial element of our Virginian past is being left out. We owe it to the descendants of the enslaved communities of Shirley, Berkeley, and Westover. Also, asking the families who currently own and manage these homes for their thoughts on their slaveholding legacy would make for a more interesting, complex and nuanced article.

Kalela Williams more than 6 years ago

Gap in Ownership for Westover

Augustus Drewry purchased Westover in 1866 after the Civil War and lived there for 33 years until his death in 1899.

Kimberly more than 6 years ago

wonderful article

Thanks for such an in-depth article on these beautiful homes and the families who maintain them. I look forward to visiting them.

Alison more than 6 years ago

Acknowledging History

It's funny that during your historical background of these beautiful, stately homes, there was no mention of slavery... These homes and these people's legacies were build on the sweat and maybe even blood of slaves. Respect is due where it is owed.

Sally more than 6 years ago

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May/June 22