Friday, April 5, 2013

What Happened to Previous Most Endangered Sites? - Rich Neck

On Saturday, August 18, 2012, Rich Neck Plantation manor house burned.  No cause has been determined for the fire which completely gutted the interior and allowed the roof to collapse into the structure.  Rich Neck had appeared on our Endangered Sites list for 2011.  The nomination cited concern for the integrity of the house as it had set empty and abandoned for many years and was facing demolition by neglect.  Rich Neck is located in Surry County in the area between Bacon’s Castle and Smith’s Fort. 

The manor house was built around 1800 by the Ruffin family who owned the property until the end of the Civil War. An early example of Dutch Colonial architectural style, Rich Neck was one of only a few antebellum houses remaining in Surry County.  The National Register nomination also noted its early collection of agricultural outbuildings, many of which still remain after the fire, but their condition continues to deteriorate. 

We do not know what the future of the remaining structure will be.  The chimneys continued to stand along with the lower half of the exterior walls when the accompanying photos were taken about eight months after the fire.  We could not gain access to the structure but from the extent of the damage apparent from the public road, it appears all the interior detailing has been lost. 

Unfortunately, not all Endangered Sites have happy endings or futures.  Fire was not a mentioned threat in the nomination but simply accomplished what continued neglect would have done over a much longer period of time. 

By bringing attention to the threatened landmark structures around Virginia, the Endangered Sites List aims to rally local and community support to encourage owners to protect their local communities by preserving the building and landscapes that help define that community.  The threats are real and once a building like Rich Neck is lost, it is lost forever.  Remember, these places matter!

1 comment:

Steve Elkins said...

Who owns the property?