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Interiors: Fabric of Liberty

Spartan inspiration from a rabble-rousing patriot.


It should be no surprise then that Mr. Henry's sprawling frame home, Scotchtown, in Beaverdam is spare, even Spartan in furnishings. The interpreters of this handsome house museum in western Hanover County have shown considerable restraint in decorating the largest single-story colonial house in Virginia. The interior walls are off-white, the wooden trims are earth tones and the window treatments are minimal.

Portraits of Henry and his dour-looking kinfolk peer down at 21st-century visitors in most of the rooms. A liberal number of elegant Oriental scatter rugs add geometric shapes and rich hues underfoot.

The men's withdrawing room is where curators have injected what little bit of color one finds in the place. A cotton, red and white checkered fabric adorns the seats of the chairs. Here, around the gaming table (which is placed in front of the fireplace with its marble surround), four Chippendale-style, but differently patterned, straight-back chairs are unified by the red and white casual fabric.

The decorating idea? Take disparate pieces of furniture and unify them with a single patterned material. This same idea would work well on a porch with mix-matched wicker furniture or around a kitchen table where mismatched dining chairs could be tied together with seat cushions.

Scotchtown was established sometime after 1717 on about 10,000 acres by Charles Chiswell of Williamsburg. Henry bought the place in 1771 and lived here until 1778. The house was restored in 1958 and the grounds landscaped in 1970. Open daily, it is owned by the Association for the Preservation for Virginia Antiquities.

Scotchtown is located at 16120 Chiswell Lane in Beaverdam, 11 miles northwest of Ashland off Route 54. Open April through October, Tuesdays through Saturdays. For hours and more information call (804) 227-3500, or check online at www.apva.org/apva/scotchtown.php.


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