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Esmont, Esmont

Esmont house, Esmont, ca 1960

Name:  Esmont

Date:  ca. 1950's

Image Number:  WPFJ_UVA1Esmont_House, William B. Phillips and Floyd E. Johnson, UVA.

Comments:  The Esmont house was built circa 1816 for Doctor Charles Cocke, nephew of James Powell Cocke of nearby Edgemont.  Dr. Cocke acquired the surrounding 1183 acre tract in 1815 from Rezin Porter.  According to Jan Karon, an author who once owned and lived at the house (1999-2014), Esmont's name may derive from the French phrase, est mont, which translates into "east mountain,"  as Esmont is located east of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia.  Esmont was a major plantation, and over thirty slaves were held on the property in 1845.  Cocke sold Esmont in 1848 to Bedford Brown, and the next year, Brown sold it to William Branch who farmed the estate until his death in 1890. 

A variety of individuals have called Esmont home since 1890.  Around the turn of the 20th century, two very successful Virginia industrialists, named John and Henry Lane, owned the estate.  They brought the railroad into Esmont, built a bank (now the Esmont post office) and gave the slate mining economy to the area.  Together, John and Henry founded Lane Manufacturing company, an important player in the furniture industry.  The first piece of Lane furniture was assembled on Porter's Road, located in an historic African-American neighborhood less than a half-mile from Esmont Farm.

As a result of her divorce settlement with Henry Lane, Mr. Lane's wife ended up the owner of Esmont in 1907 until selling it in 1949 to Mr. and Mrs. Kelly Graham. Between 1952-1954, the Grahams undertook an extensive restoration of the house directed by Floyd Johnson, a Charlottesville archtect.  

Roger MacBride purchased Esmont in 1968 and lived there at 7060 Esmont Farm Road, Esmont, VA, for some years before selling it to the Ambrose family.  Mr. MacBride was the candidate of the American Libertarian Party in the 1976 Presidential election.  In 1999, Jan Karon bought the Esmont property from John and Sue Ambrose.  She hired Dalgliesh Gilpin Paxton Architects to restore the estate, and in 2014, Ms. Karon sold the property to a University of Virginia law school graduate and his wife, a Vogue editor.  Following are two photos of the Esmont House, dated ca. 2005:

Esmont House as seen from the front, ca. 2005
Esmont house as seen from the side, ca. 2005

The Esmont property once spread over 2,000 acres, but now (2018) it contains 105 acres.  The Lane brothers, for their part, parceled off a significant portion of land from the estate to build an industrial village of the same name (Esmont) by the early 1900's.  When Mrs. Henry Lane received the Esmont property in 1907, it covered only 123 acres of the original plantation land.  In 2018, the Esmond property is owned by Esmont Farm LLC and now consists of a little over 104 acres.

Scottsville Museum wishes to thank Maxwell Johnson for his research and photographs on this Esmont community home!

1)  American Historical Society. History of Virginia.  Volume VI.  University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, VA, 1924.

2)  Briggs, Roy, and Bernard B. Lane.  "BERNARD B. LANE, THE LANE COMPANY."  American Furniture Hall of Fame, American Home Furnishings Hall of Fame Foundation, Inc., 30 May 2000.

3)  William F. Gordon Farm Journals (Facsimile), 1845-1888, Accession #9553-a, Special Collections, University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, VA.

4)  Hallock, Jennifer; Gardiner Hallock & Kristie Baynard.  National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination: Southern Albemarle Rural Historic District. February 2007; Section 7, p. 124-125; Section 8, p. 397-398.

5)  Johnson, Maxwell, and Jan Karon.  "Interview with Jan Karon."  22 June 2018.

6)  Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission Staff.  "National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination Form."  Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission, May, 1977.

7)  Esmont Photo (WPFJ_UVA1Esmont_House) by William B. Phillips and Floyd E. Johnson; Rt. 715 & Rt. 719, Esmont, Esmont, VA.  University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, VA; .

8)  Lay, K. Edward, Architecture of Jefferson County, (University Press of UVA, Charlottesville, VA: 2000), p. 135.

9), Esmont, Parcel ID: 12000-00-00-02200.

Copyright © 2018 by Scottsville Museum

Top Image Located On:  University of Virginia Library,

Bottom Two Images Located On:, Esmont, Parcel ID: 12000-00-00-02200.



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