We have had a brief break in our presidential houses series and are excited to get back to covering the family homes of the American presidents with a political dynasty, the Harrisons of Virginia. The 9th president, William Henry Harrison was grandfather of the 23rd president, Benjamin Harrison. Their forefathers were congressmen, one of whom signed the Declaration of Independence and included an early governor of Virginia too. We have quite a bit of information on the Harrisons as they are one of the First Families of Virginia and we actually descend from a Harrison woman (hence our last name is obviously not Harrison) whose father left Virginia for Tennessee in the 18th century, thus becoming one of the First Families of Tennessee as well- our father/grandfather was active in this group. Benjamin Harrison's family had moved to Ohio, which is the state with the most US presidents after Virginia. The house in which he was born no longer stands. William Henry Harrison was born at Berkeley Plantation, named after a different First Family of Virginia, but home of the Harrisons for generations.
Berkeley is actually the site of the official first Thanksgiving in America in 1619. The Georgian style house was built in 1726. It is the oldest three story house in Virginia. The house is full of time period Chinese export, English silver, and Waterford crystal. Below is the Great Room.
The house functions as a museum today and can be rented for events. Before living in this house, the Harrisons were Lords of Gobion's Manor in St. Giles, England. We cannot find a picture of this estate, however we know that it was purchased by the family after they presided over Barnard Castle. The castle is now in ruins.
The Harrisons were an ancient and noble family whose surname was originally De Hede. There are many Harrisons today who likely do not share this lineage. There are two noble Harrison lines and they have a similar coat of arms. Something to keep in mind as you read more about this famous colonial family!