River Road Driving Tour

4112 River Road

Tarover Built by Thomas Davenport in 1770, Tarover was sold to Charles Bruce in 1796. In the 1850's it burned. The only surviving structure from that time is the stone and brick kitchen behind the current structure.

The story is told that Thomas Bruce, son of James Coles Bruce, midway through a speech in Danville was told that his house had been destroyed by fire. He asked if his wife and children were all right and after learning they were, he went on to finish his speech.

Thomas Bruce rebuilt the house in 1854, using John Evans Johnson as the architect. While the house was being constructed, Bruce returned from a trip to find workmen spreading tar over the roof to protect the furnishings because the roofing materials had not arrived. Taken by their ingenuity, Bruce bestowed the name "Tarover" on the place.

Of native stone, Tarover is a massive house, Gothic in style, with 14 rooms on three floors. It shares many similarities with Berry Hill, having almost identical floor plans, interior woodwork and similar marble mantels.

Patrick Henry Bruce (1881-1936), an American painter of note and grandson of Thomas Bruce, the builder, was born at "Tarover" while his parents were visiting there. His birth, however is registered in Campbell County as that was their residence. He studied with Matisse and several shows of his work have been mounted in recent years. His cousin, Virginia Ahrens, who lived in Italy states that "Patrick Henry Bruce was born at Tarover, that place where the Zenkes live." It is a fun house that the Zenkes love to share with those who love Virginia history.

Mr. Zenke also oversaw the restoration of Carter's Tavern that is a little further down the road.

Further along the road (about 4 miles) one comes to News Ferry, a quiet hamlet with a very rural atmosphere, once a major river crossing and a railroad stop. In its prime News Ferry was made up of several stores and dozens of houses. In 1890 a charter was granted to the NEWS Ferry Lithia Water Company. The company's main business was the bottling and selling of Lithia Water found near the village. The product became very well known as an excellent mineral water. Two people who wrote glowing testimonials as to its worth were the Governor of Virginia and President Benjamin Harrison.

At News Ferry there is - Meriwether

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