Ker Place

Address: 69 Market Street
City: Onancock
State: VA
Zip: 23417
Phone: 804 787-8012

In 1680, an Act of Cohabitation required nineteen settled areas each to set aside 50 acres for a port and market town. One of them was Port Scarborough, which later became Onancock. Onancock and Norfolk are the only two still-surviving original ports of entry in Virginia. During the 17th and 18th centuries, Onancock was a bustling community and port of trade for tobacco warehousing and shipping. One of its late 18th century citizens, John Shepherd Ker, was a prosperous merchant with broad financial interests and investments in grain, wharves and storehouses. His wife, Agnes Corbin Ker, inherited her father’s plantation at Onancock. In 1799, Ker established by deed his reversion interest in the property, and began building the fine Federal dwelling, which was completed by his death in 1806. The house is a two-story seven-bay Federal mansion, with a three-bay pedimented central pavilion. Following local custom, it was attached on the east side to a one-story colonnade leading to an outside kitchen. At some point, the outside kitchen was removed and the colonnade was enclosed and raised to a two-story wing. When the Eastern Shore Historical Society bought it in 1960, that wing was reserved for the use of the last private owner. When it was built, Ker’s Place, as it was known, was in the country. The town of Onancock has grown up around it, but skillful landscaping of its two remaining acres gives it the privacy of a much larger property. The Garden Club of Virginia’s restoration includes large shade trees and a long garden walk that leads from the rear of the house and ends in an arbor and an extensive tree plantation.

Year: 1982
Landscape Architect: Rudy J. Favretti

Grounds and gardens

Year: 2009
Landscape Architect: William D. Rieley

New entrance gates and picket fence along Market Street.