Also see The Berry Hill Resort & Conference Center
3105 River Road
Berry Hill, the Greek Revival mansion started in 1842 and completed in 1844 for the planter and entrepreneur, James Coles Bruce, is certainly the greatest of the River Road plantations.
The original part was built around 1770, the same time as the original overseer's cottage at the corner of the driveway. The overseer's house is a quaint colonial structure with beautiful brick chimneys. It is surrounded by ailanthus trees, the so-called "Trees of Heaven", which once lined the driveway to the mansion.
In 1842, James Cole Bruce began to build Berry Hill with the assistance of the architect, John E. Johnson who also designed the mansion Staunton Hill in Charlotte County. The builder was Josiah Dabbs, a local contractor. The 14-room mansion with its eight columned portico patterned after the Parthenon was flanked by small four columned offices.
Inside the house, the most notable feature was the famous horseshoe staircase. Plaster ceiling medallions, imported marble mantels, the lavish use of silver hardware on doors and windows, and the use of fake doors placed to balance the real ones are but some of the unique features of this unforgettable mansion.
Many of the antebellum components of the vast estate survive and offer an exceptional view of slave life and labor.
Numerous structures were erected with slave labor to accommodate plantation activity. Two of the stone slave quarters remain essentially intact, while ruins of five others are visible. A feature relating to Afro- American culture is the Berry Hill Slave cemetery, which contains the graves of a large number of individuals.
The service wings, with support buildings, are still in existence including a large smokehouse and icehouse. Inside the mansion is a set of call bells. These bells, mounted on springs, were linked by long wires to pull in individual rooms; each bell sounded a different pitch.
Berry Hill is considered the most perfect classic architecture in the South and underwent total restoration in July 1999 to become a premier executive training facility.
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