A couple of months ago we had the rare pleasure of an invitation to meet the owner of Ingleside, a grand old house in the heart of Charlotte county, who graciously opened it to us for a tour — and then an elaborate (and totally unexpected) lunch.
The house at Ingleside is not on the National Register — but it should be. It was built by Thomas Read (c.1735-1817), a son of Clement Read and Mary (Hill) Read of Bushy Forest, one of the earliest settlers and wealthiest families in colonial Charlotte County. Like many of his contemporaries, Thomas began life as a surveyor. He studied at William & Mary College, and was the deputy clerk of Charlotte county when it separated from Lunenburg county in 1765. He became the Clerk of the Court in 1770 and held that position for 52 years, until his death in 1817. He had married Elizabeth ‘Betty’ Nash, daughter of John Nash and Ann Owen. She was born 31 Mar 1743, and died May 1790. They had one child, Margaret (1774-1815). Thomas and Elizabeth are buried a short walk from the house, the only graves in this family cemetery. Nearby is a monument erected in his honor by Preservation Virginia.
After Read’s death, the house was acquired by Henry Carrington, who lived there until 1867. In 1870 it was acquired by John W. Daniel, and passed through his family for number of years until being acquired by the present owner.
The basic narrative of Thomas Read’s life sounds a bit dry and uneventful, but that is hardly the case — he lived in interesting times. In 1776 he was a member of the Virginia convention that drafted a declaration of rights and the state constitution. During the American Revolution, he was a county lieutenant and rendered valuable service by supplying the quotas of Charlotte county, by collecting recruits, and by supplementing the necessary means from his own resources. On hearing the report that Lord Cornwallis was crossing the Dan River, he marched at the head of a militia regiment to oppose his progress. He was a member of the Virginia convention of 1776, and of the state convention of 1788 that ratified the constitution of the United States (which he opposed, according to one source), and he supported the second war with Great Britain in 1812.
At that 1788 convention he represented Charlotte county with Paul Carrington, who had married Thomas’ sister Margaret (who had died in 1766 — see “Here Comes the Judge!“). Like Carrington, he was also a long-time trustee of Hampden-Sydney College.
Getting to Ingleside is an adventure — from the road one travels down a drive that is over 1 1/2 miles long. The house was built in 1810, and an office in the yard was during Read’s tenancy the county’ clerks office. A reproduction of the Clerk’s Office has been erected in Charlotte Court House and serves as a museum that is open by appointment.
The house itself is a classic brick two-story pile, five bays wide, with a center hall Georgian floor plan. It is similar to Do Well, which also dates from about 1810 (though it lacks Do Well’s impressive Adamesque fireplace mantels). The owner cleverly modernized it by discretely adding bathrooms in additions on either side, so that the interior floor plan is unmolested. The kitchen occupies its own wing. The interior is tasteful and refined, and the original woodwork, mantels and floors perfectly preserved. Privacy here is fiercely protected, so the casual visitor to the county will have to content themselves with a visit to the museum in Charlotte Court House.