Magnolia Grange was purchased by Chesterfield in 1984 and opened to the public two years later as a historic house museum.
Constructed in 1822 by William Winfree, a stately white Federal period home once was the crown jewel of a sprawling Chesterfield estate known as Magnolia Grange.
The property, which also included a tavern and grist mill both operated by Winfree, originally consisted of more than 600 acres near what is now the intersection of Iron Bridge and Beach roads. After changing hands several times over the years and being sold off in pieces to accommodate population growth in central Chesterfield, less than an acre remains.
The home itself was slated for demolition in the early 1980s to make way for a shopping center, but instead was preserved through a first-of-its-kind partnership between the county government and the Chesterfield Historical Society of Virginia.
The Chesterfield Board of Supervisors authorized the purchase of the property for approximately $181,000 in 1984. At that time, the Chesterfield Historical Society of Virginia pledged to raise $100,000 to furnish the home with period artifacts and collections. It reopened two years later as a historic house museum.
While it’s now surrounded by modern commercial development, including a bank and retail shops, Magnolia Grange still stands as a cherished piece of Chesterfield’s history.
On Saturday, May 21, its bicentennial celebration kicks off with a Mayfaire Festival from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the grounds at 10020 Iron Bridge Road, giving visitors a chance to step back in time and experience life in 1800s Chesterfield.
Hosted by the Chesterfield Historical Society of Virginia in collaboration with Chesterfield Parks and Recreation, the free event will begin with a reenactment of the 1986 ribbon-cutting ceremony when Magnolia Grange opened to the public. Free tours of the mansion will be available throughout the day.
Numerous tradesmen and crafters will be on site, including a tinsmith, basket weaver, chair caner and carpenter. Historical interpreters will bring history to life with a Revolutionary War encampment, home life, knitting and crocheting. There also will be a storyteller and medicine/snake oil salesman.
The Harken Back String Band will provide lively music throughout the event. Period toys and instruments will be on display and children can participate in a variety of fun activities. Traditional food and beverages will be available for purchase.
Because of limited space on site, Mayfaire Festival guests are asked to park at the Chesterfield County government complex, 9901 Lori Road. Shuttles to Magnolia Grange will be provided.
Considerable work has been performed to preserve the mansion since 1986 – to include repainting the exterior, window restoration, repairs to its three porches and replacement of its wood shutters.
It has been closed since February for plaster repair and repainting of interior rooms before it reopens to the public at the upcoming festival.
The Chesterfield Historical Society of Virginia has planned a number of other activities to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Magnolia Grange that will be ongoing throughout the year.