President Tyler has always been one of our favorite presidents because it was passed down in the family history that my (Elinor's) great-great grandfather's great-great grandmother, Rachel Tyler, was the president's aunt. She was the sister of Governor John Tyler III of Virginia (President Tyler's father). He was the builder of Greenway Plantation in Virginia where President Tyler was born. One fun fact about John Tyler is that while we have a few more generations and distance between us and the president, the branch of this family that is his direct line has very few generations born from his time until today...he has 2 GRANDSONS alive today.
The Tylers were early colonists in the 1600s and settled in Williamsburg, Virginia where they were immediately politicians as they had been in Shropshire, England during the 1500s. They descended from "Wat" Tyler, the leader of the medieval Peasant's Revolt. It is fairly uncommon for a commoner (who would have been a tile maker) to make a place for themself in society and history as this Tyler did. He would have been one of few to change their class early on likely and I am sure would be proud to learn of the success of his American descendants. However, because of this, unlike with the other British colonist presidents we have looked at, the Tylers have no ancestral seat in Britain exactly. Below are pictures (from Virginia Living) of Sherwood Forest Plantation, the Tyler family's American estate. It is still privately owned by the Tylers.
The expansion of the house, which was also the plantation of former president William Henry Harrison, was done by first lady Julia Gardiner, John Tyler's wife after he became a widower. She was a socialite from The Hamptons. She brought her New York influence to the decor style of the house. She and the president even had a summer house called Villa Margaret in The Hamptons.
Current owner Harrison Tyler's wife Payne was responsible for the restoration of the house. She grew up on a historic plantation in South Carolina and she got a degree from New York School of Interior Design, making her the perfect person for the job.
Below is the dining room which has beautiful candelabras that echo the chandelier. We loves this info from the Virginia Living article on the dining room wallpaper:
"Replacing the original deteriorated dining room wallpaper was Loth’s idea. He convinced the Birge wallpaper company of Buffalo, N.Y., to reproduce it as part of a bicentennial series. The design is a wonderfully personal reminder of Julia Tyler—roses and sailboats were dear to her."
Much of the furniture is original as the owners are the family of John Tyler, they were able to collect from other family members and had a collection to begin with. They have even tracked some pieces down at auction. Below is a gorgeous secretary. Love the portaits and silhouettes surrounding it.
The family allows tours of the house when they can. We would love to go sometime!