Rocketts Landing has a new queen. Her arrival last week was something of a long-delayed historic homecoming — though royalty rarely arrives wrapped in a tarp in the back of an SUV, as Pocahontas did.
The Powhatan Indian princess, at least in portrait form, has taken up residence in a condo penthouse suite belonging to her great-grandson 16 generations removed, Harman Saunders. She occupies a place on a wall overlooking the James River.
On her last stay — assuming she ever visited Rocketts when it was home to one of the many villages in her father's dominion dotting the banks of the equally mighty Powhatan River — Pocahontas probably slept in a thatched hut.
“She has officially moved back to her old stomping grounds,” says Saunders, a South Boston contractor who recently purchased the penthouse condo with his wife as a weekend river getaway — a purchase made with full awareness of the historic circle they were neatly completing. “We joke that she was in exile in South Boston for many years.”
(The Saunders' condo is on display to the public as part of Venture Richmond's Second Annual Loft Tour on March 28. See page 31 for information.)
The portrait Saunders inherited from his grandparents is one of a number of copies done in 1907, rendered from the only portrait known to have been created during the life of Pocahontas. Saunders says the family's matriarch will again keep watch over her father's former dominion.
“Now, she has probably the best view of the James River of any location,” he says. “She'll be looking straight out of a 20-foot-tall sheet of glass straight at the James.”