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Plain Dealing, Keene

Plain Dealing, Keene

Name:  Plain Dealing

Date:  1932

Image Number:  Virginia Department of Historic Resources, 002-0065 Plain Dealing

Comments:  The main residence was built on land patented by Thomas Staples in 1783-84 and is believed to have consisted of a smaller story-and-a-half section of the house.  In 1787, Staples sold 500 acres of this property to Samuel Dyer, who expanded the original house by building the two-story main section of this H-shaped house soon thereafter as shown above.  Dyer also operated a very successful store on his farm then located on the busy road from Scottsville to Staunton.  His store bore a sign bearing the motto 'Plain Dealing', and Dyer then named his house 'Plain Dealing.'

The large frame house is H-shaped and consists of a two-story main block and a parallel story-and-a-half rear wing connected by a two-story hyphen which was raised from one-story.  The hyphen was originally an open gallery.  By 1800, the Plain Dealing house had attained its present form.

The rear wing of Plain Dealing.
The hyphen connecting the two wings of Plain Dealing.

Samuel Dyer was born in Bristol, England, in 1756 and came to America at age fourteen under indenture by a merchant named Breckenridge.  During the Revolutionary War, Dyer served as one of Patrick Henry's minutemen and later became a commissioned officer.  After the war, he went into trade in Richmond; Dyer continued in that profession after moving to Albemarle, opening a store on his Plain Dealing farm.  Dyer was successful not only as a merchant but as a miller and planter and soon amassed a respectable fortune.

In 1841, Plain Dealing was inherited by Samuel Dyer's son, Robert, who sold it in 1844 to the Rankins of Augusta, Virginia.  In 1855, Joseph P. B. Wilmer of Philadelphia purchased the estate.  Previously, Wilmer had served as rector of Christ Church in nearby Glendower, and later he became the Bishop of New Orleans.  The Wilmer family owned Plain Dealing for some seventy years during which time it became noted as a hospitable place.  In the early 1900's, the Wilmers were often hosts to President Theodore Roosevelt and his family.  The Roosevelts had purchased a small tract of land from the Wilmers with a cottage called Pine Knot, which President Roosevelt used as a hunting lodge.

In the mid-1930's, the Wilmers sold Plain Dealing to Robert Hancock.  In 1944, it was acquired by Prince and Princess Djordjadze.  Princess Djordjadze, the former Audrey Emery, was previously married to Grand Duke Dimitri of Russia, one of the assassins of the monk, Rasputin.    She sold Plain Dealing in 1949 to Cornelieus Middleton, who kept it until 1956.  In 2004, Plain Dealing was purchased by the Linda Wachtmeister and Jan Parks, Trustees of the Plain Dealing Land Trust, who continue to own this property as of 2018.  In 2018, the Albemarle County GISWEB property info for this home lists it as being in average condition.

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

1)  Johnston, Frances Benjamin, Plain Dealing, Charlottesville, Albemarle County, Virginia, 1933.  See: .
2)  Virginia Department of Historic Resources, 002-0065 Plain Dealing; see: .
3)  Library of Congress Prints & Photographic Catalog, Plain Dealing, Albemarle County, VA, Rear Wing, LC-DIG-csas-04246; Plain Dealing Entrance Porch, LC-DIG-ppmsca-16582;  Plain Dealing, LC-DIG-ppmsca-23412; Plain Dealing, LC-DIG-ppmsca-23413;  Plain Dealing, LC-DIG-ppmsca-23414;  and Plain Dealing, LC-DIG-csas-04246.
4)  Johnston, Frances Benjamin. Plain Dealing, Charlottesville Vic., Albemarle County, Virginia. Washington, D.C., 1933.
5)  Makharadze, Irakli.  "Georgian Trick Riders in American Wild West Shows, 1890s-1920s."  Google Books, McFarland, 2015.
6)  Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission Staff.  "National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination:  Plain Dealing" (PDF).  May 1977.
7), Plain Dealing, Parcel ID: 12200-00-00-00100.

Copyright © 2018 by Scottsville Museum

Top Image Located On:  Virginia Department of Historic Resources, 002-0065 Plain Dealing

Middle Image Located On:  Library of Congress, LC-DIG-csas-04246

Bottom Image Located On:  Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsca-23413



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