Sweet Briar College

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City: Sweet Briar
State: VA

In 1818, Elijah Fletcher moved his family to Lynchburg where Elijah bought The Virginian, a Whig newspaper, and became a prominent civic leader. He served on the town council, and was twice elected mayor of Lynchburg. In 1830, he bought a farm called "Sweetbrier", part of an eventual landholding of 8,000 acres. "Sweetbrier" was at first the Fletchers' summer house, but the estate and its plantations required supervision, and Elijah sold the newspaper to attend to his other affairs. Some time later, the Fletcher family moved from Lynchburg to live full time in the country. The house was a two-story red-brick farmhouse, which the Fletchers altered and enlarged in 1851, adding the tower wings to transform the simple farmhouse into a very stylish Italian villa. When the property eventually descended to one of the Fletcher daughters, Indiana, she changed the spelling of the name to Sweet Briar. She married James Henry Williams, an Episcopal minister from New York. When their only daughter Daisy died, her parents vowed to found a college for women in her memory. The result was Sweet Briar College. Fifty-one students entered in the fall of 1906. Since 1906, Sweet Briar has had nine presidents, all of whom have chosen to live in Sweet Briar House. It is one of the state's finest expressions of the Italian villa style, and its beautiful landscape is part of the Fletcher-Williams legacy. Their travels, coupled with their great interest in gardening, resulted in the introduction of exotic trees and plants into the original native planting around what was a simple country farmhouse. The Garden Club of Virginia restored the Front Arrival Court with wide brick walks outlining the historic boxwood circle, and added to the original arboretum on the front grounds with both native and exotic trees.

Year: 2005
Landscape Architect: William D. Rieley

New entrance court at Sweet Briar House More Photos

 Sweet Briar After

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