Kenmore, 1201 Washington Avenue, Fredericksburg, Fredericksburg, VA
Significance: Kenmore was built as a plantation house by Fielding Lewis and his wife, Betty Washington Lewis, soon after they acquired the property in 1752. The original 863-acre plantation extended to the west of the thriving Tidewater port of Fredericksburg, Virginia, on the Rappahannock River. Kenmore is best known for its elaborate plasterwork ceilings, reputed to be the finest of their kind in America. The geometric floral designs were derived in part from Batty Langley's City and Country Builder's and Workman's Treasury of Designs (London, 1756). The "Stucco Man" who plastered Kenmore's ceilings also designed ceilings at Mount Vernon, the home of Betty Lewis' brother, George Washington. The symmetrical Georgian design of Kenmore is characterized by two five-bay brick facades, a half-hipped roof, end chimneys, and a modillion cornice. The river entry is distinguished by a finely executed one-story portico supported by aquia sandstone columns of the Tuscan order. Thomas T. Waterman speculates that Kenmore was designed by architect John Ariss in The Mansions of Virginia, 1703-1776 (Chapel Hill, 1946). Although little documentary evidence has been found to substantiate his claim. Although Colonel Lewis' primary business was raising grain, tobacco and flax, he helped establish the Fredericksburg gunnery for the Continental Armies in 1775. Lewis descendants sold Kenmore in 1797. During the first half of the nineteenth century, Kenmore was owned by the Samuel Gordon family, who named the house after their ancestral home in Scotland, "Kenmuir." The William K. Howard family lived in Kenmore from 1881 until 1914 and restored the plaster ceilings to their original condition. In 1922, Kenmore was acquired by the newly formed Kenmore Association. The mansion and gardens were restored, flanking dependencies were reconstructed on their original sites, and the house was furnished. Now a National Historic Landmark, Kenmore is open to the public as a house museum under the direction of the Association.
Unprocessed Field note material exists for this structure: FN-319
Survey number: HABS VA-305
Building/structure dates: 1752 Initial Construction
National Register of Historic Places NRIS Number: 69000325