Founded as part of a Land Grant from King George 1st, Effingham Manor was first settled by William Alexander of the powerful Alexander family of Effingham House in England. By 1767, the farm was operating and the Manor House was built.
Quoting William Green, a decendent of the Alexander family:
“The pride of Effingham was in its numerous outbuildings laid out in an elaborate plan. There were no less than 23 buildings, barns, stables, coach house, weaver’s house, tannery, blacksmith’s forge, greenhouse, smokehouse, ice house, and estate office. The kitchen was in a separate building connected to the main house by an arcade somewhat in the manner of Mt. Vernon. The school was conducted in the attic of the main house, there had been markings on the paneling to indicate that.”
William Alexander died in 1814 and bequeathed his property to his wife and son Lawrence. During the time that it was in their possession, roughly 300 acres of over 1200 acres were traded and sold. The property was then sold off to pay debts to John Macrae in 1828.
The history is not all happy at Effingham, as the land was worked by slave labor until the 1860’s, with as any as 40 enslaved people working the property, growing tobacco, apples, corn and raising cattle. Upon the Emancipation, 3 of the 4 Slave Houses were taken down, with the one remaining for Sharecroppers. The historic slave house still stands, as one of only a handful in Virginia.
Jumping to 1955, Dr. Otto Anderson Engh and his wife purchased the property which was 680 acres. When purchased it required a lot of work. Many of the buildings that could not be saved were removed. The Enghs are responsible for the conversion of the former slave’s quarters into an office/guest house. The Enghs re-sided the manor house, added the pillars, as well as put in the oak flooring, and replaced the missing paneling in the main rooms with paneling found in the attic. They also gave the blacksmith’s shop a new roof.
While used as a summer home, the Engh family kept it as a cattle farm in the 1980’s breeding Angus and Devon cattle. The Enghs sold the property in the early 2000s.
Over the years, the Manor House was added onto, had plumbing installed, porches attached and even WIFI installed, but the bones are original. The basement is in the same state as it was in the 18th century, as are the wood floors upstairs and on the third floor. Notice when you are upstairs the width of the planks on the floor.
All the wood-work, window frames, and doorways are original. The spacing of the windows from the end walls to the center suggest that the home was built in two phases.
The rooms on the first floor of the Manor have been converted from reception and dining rooms to wine tasting rooms. The rooms on the second floor have been converted from bedrooms to rooms where our guests are welcome to have a glass of wine while they relax, read or chat with friends.