• The Nelson House


    The Nelson House was the home of Thomas Nelson, Jr., Yorktown's most famous son and one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Nelson's devotion to the patriot cause during the American Revolution contributed significantly to the creation of the United States.

    Nelson's grandfather established the Nelson family in Yorktown, arriving from England in 1705. He soon became a prosperous and influential merchant. He constructed his home, the Nelson House, around 1730.

    Thomas Nelson, Jr., inherited the family business on the death of his father, William. (Nelson was given the title "Junior" to distinguish himself from his uncle, who was also named Thomas). By the time of the revolution, Thomas Nelson, Jr. was one of the most powerful and influential men in Virginia. At various times during the war, he served in the Continental Congress, the state legislature and was governor of Virginia from June through October 1781. As a brigadier general, he also commanded the Virginia militia at the Siege of Yorktown. Nelson's sacrifices for the war effort and his exposure in the field contributed to his chronic ill health. He died during an asthma attack six years after the revolution. Nelson is buried in the graveyard of Grace Episcopal Church in Yorktown.

    During the Civil War, The Nelson House, served as a hospital for the Confederate and later for the Union forces. In 1914, Captain and Mrs. George P. Blow purchased the Nelson House and renovated it as the center of a large estate, known as "York Hall." The National Park Service acquired the house in 1968 and restored it to its colonial appearance.

    The Nelson House is one of the finest examples of early Georgian architecture in Virginia. (The Georgian style took its name from the four British kings named George, who reigned from 1714 to 1830). Georgian architecture was popular in the 1700s because it’s simple, balanced appearance gave an impression of order and stability. Many of its features, such as the triangular pediment above the front door and the cornice, or decorative molding, under the eaves of the roof, can be traced to ancient Greece and Rome.

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