Image above: Exterior of the National Historic Register home, the Burgandine House. Courtesy America's Best History.
Spotlight on Lesser Known History
Burgandine House, Virginia
America's Best History Spotlight
On this page we're going to Spotlight the lesser known historic sites and attractions that dot the history landscape across the USA and are worth a visit if you're in their area. And while they may be lesser known, some are very unique, and will be that rare find. You'll be, at times, on the ground floor, or maybe even know something others don't. It'll be fun. Visit them.
Burgandine House, Virginia
As an aside after visiting Brandy Station's Graffiti House and a tour of Kelly's Ford, we had more time to investigate the amazing history that sits inside the town itself. Some, alas, are plaques to buildings that are removed, but others, such as the Burgandine House, are there to investigate and wonder upon. The Burgandine House is the oldest standing structure in Culpeper, formerly Fairfax, formerly Culpeper Court House, Virginia. It was built around 1750, see controversy below, and basically consists in its current state, which is close to the original, a two to three room structure. One large room exists on the first floor used as the living room and kitchen, a smaller room near the staircase, and an upper room for bedrooms and storage.
But the main thing that impressed us, and impressed us greatly, was the original and reproductions of all the guns, muskets, swords, clothing, furniture, and more that adorned every available space. There were period pictures. Period tables. All situated perfectly around the crowded house. And who owns and maintains this small gem of history; the city owns it, a gentleman and his partner run it, and all of the period treasures inside, are their own. And they are there to tell you about it. Don't miss this if traveling through or down the Journey Through Hallowed Road. It won't cost the new fees at Monticello. Won't take much time, ... well might not, that man has a lot of stories to impart. Just one, ... did you know that the bullet that killed John Pelham at Kelly's Ford was Confederate, either friendly fire or misfire? Recent forensic evidence has uncovered that. Photo above: Exterior of the Burgandine House, 2023. Courtesy America's Best History.
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Info, What's There Now, History Nearby
Burgandine House, Virginia
Burgandine House was there when the town was known as Fairfax, originally charter on February 22, 1759. It was surveyed by Washington, to be ten blocks in extant, and known as Culpeper Court House after it got its first post office in 1795.
Image above: One side of a vintage stereoscope of Culpeper Court House from rail depot, 1862, Timothy O'Sullivan. Courtesy Library of Congress. Below: Interior of the second floor of the Burgandine House, 2023. Courtesy America's Best History.
Where Is It
Burgandine House is located at 807 South Main Street, Culpeper, Virginia. Culpeper is located down Route 15/29 and the town itself on the Business Route side of that. Your GPS should get you there, it did us.
Minute Walk in History
Let's take a short walk from the parking lot and through the two story oldest house in Culpeper, Virginia, the Burgandine House. Listen to some pleasant music as you witness the historic working class home of a Piedmont Virginia family.
What is There Now
The vintage house with free parking behind the Culpeper Economic Development Center next door. There are exhibits and tours by the proprietors on Saturday and Sunday. Check at the Culpeper Museum of History for open times as they vary throughout the year. The Culpeper Museum of History is located in the old train station at 113 South Commerce Street. There is free two to three hour parking there.
When Open and How Much
The house is open Saturday and Sunday, variety of hours. It is free, with donations gladly accepted. The Culpeper Museum of History is open daily from 10 to 4. There is a charge of $5 for adults and free for children, students, and Culpeper residents at the Museum.
Fees and hours are subject to change.
Culpeper Museum of History
Well, first, take the myriad of walking and driving tours around Culpeper, including the battlefields of Cedar Mountain, Brandy Station, and Kelly's Ford around it; they're going to be the Culpeper Battlefields State Park starting in 2024. Beyond that, there's so much, but if you're Civil War minded, it will be those just off or on Route 3; the battlefield sites of Chancellorsville, the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Fredericksburg.
Photos, History, and More Spotlights
Burgandine House History
There is some debate to the actual date of its construction. It had been a long held belief that it was constructed between 1749, the county's founding, and 1754, when Robert Coleman bought the lot. It was a log working class home, one and one-half stories tall made of log and planks. The porch was a later addition. It was eventually sold to General Edward Stevens and at one time used as a tavern. New research indicates it could have been built as late as 1800. The city took possession of the property in 1966, housing the Culpeper Historical Society. Its preservation occurred in 1997 by the city and is still owned by them today. You shouldn't start an argument with the entrepreneurs about which date is correct. Okay, go ahead, it will be a fun one.
Photo above: First floor of the Burgandine House, 2023, America's Best History.
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Through the Years
The county was chartered, as noted above, in 1749, and named after Lord Thomas Culpeper, Colonial Governor of Virginia. George Washington surveyed it, at seventeen years of age, and the town itself was chartered in 1759, known then as Fairfax. It was a twenty-seven acre courthouse village and included the plot of land owned by Robert Coleman, who might have built the Burgandine House then.
The coming of the railroad was both a boon and bain to the now known town of Culpeper Court House. It drew both the Union and Confederate armies due to its junctions to other Virginia towns. There were hundreds of battles and skirmishes within and around the town during the four years of Civil War. The houses of the city became military housing or hospitals, including the Burgandine House.
Photo above: Image of the Burgandine House, with very nearby built other home to its left, now removed, and the land occupied by the Culpeper Economic Development office, parking behind, and where the Culpeper Museum used to be before moving to the Train Station. The addition to the right has also been removed. Image from the Works Progress Administration in the 1930's. Courtesy Library of Virginia and the National Park Service.
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Culpeper Walking Tours
The Museum of Culpeper History, housed in the historic train station, has put together a wonderful booklet of walking and driving tours for you to take. If you're at the Burgandine House, it's not too far a walk down toward the river until you'll meet the old Victoria Hotel, opposite side, that housed many a high ranking officer in the Confederate Army. It was home to John Pelham and his Confederate brass. Opposite that is a plaque to the Shackleford House, where he died after the Battle of Kelly's Ford.
If you're just looking for a short hike downtown, the Downtown Culpeper walking tour will take you around its original boundaries as a rural county seat in Colonial times. The stagecoach arrived in 1834; the Orange and Alexandria Railroad in 1853. The Civil War saw Generals from both sides of the aisle; Union's Pope, Meade, U.S. Grant; Confederates J.E.B. Stuart, Stonewall Jackson, and Robert E. Lee. Most of the pre-Civil War buildings were destroyed by fire in this area of town after the war, but not including the Burgandine House, which is actually on another walking tour next to Walking Tour One. The site of the Shackelford House where Judge Shackelford and his three daughters resided was frequented by many an officer; one of which was Major John Pelham, who grew an affection for twenty-four year old unmarried daughter Bessie. The building is gone; it only has a plaque today. It is, however, across the street from the still standing Victoria House Hotel, now a music store and other establishments. On this tour, you'll also find A.P. Hill's boyhood home.
Photo above: Former Victoria Hotel, home to many Civil War commanders during the Civil War, including Confederate Major John Pelham, the highest ranking officer to perish during the Battle of Kelly's Ford, not far out of town, 2023. Courtesy America's Best History. Below: Plaque about John Pelham and his history in Culpeper, 2023, America's Best History.
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Photos courtesy of the Library of Congress, National Archives, National Park Service, americasbesthistory.com and its licensors.
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