Rural Plains

6 mi. N of Mechanicsville off VA 606, Mechanicsville, Virginia



The Shelton family's dwelling house known as Rural Plains is an important example of early colonial Virginia architecture with its gambrel roof, the use of Flemish bond with glazed headers and rubbed brick details (such as in the jack arches), putlog holes, dormer windows, entry porch with chamber above. The last feature is redundant in function given the central-passage floor plan. Rural Plains is also important in the social history of early Virginia, with the Shelton family holding important local posts, such as with the vestry of St. Paul's Parish, and marrying into the broader community, including John Shelton's marriage to Eleanor Parks, the daughter of Virginia Gazette founder William Parks, and Sarah Shelton's marriage in 1754 to Patrick Henry. The house and surrounding acreage remained in Shelton stewarsdhip, through the Civil War wherein Union Major Winfield S. Hancock established his headquarters in the house in May of 1864 and up to 2001 when William Shelton, Jr., conveyed the property to a foundation. In 2006 the property was transferred to the National Park Service. -- Historic American Buildings Survey

National Register information 

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on June 5, 1975
Reference number
Areas of significance
Politics/Government; Architecture; Social History
Level of significance
Evaluation criteria
C - Design/Construction; B - Person
Property type
Historic function
Single dwelling
Current function
Single dwelling
Periods of significance
1700-1749; 1750-1799