We would like to share the historic restoration of Mount Pleasant Plantation with you, the largest and most sophisticated private effort in Tidewater Virginia in recent decades. It is the culmination of ten years (and counting!) of intensive archeological and documentary research and years of painstaking architectural and landscape restoration.
In 2000, when Nicholas and Shelley Schorsch bought the 400 acre historic plantation, they saw it as a diamond in the rough, and knew a lot of hard work lay ahead. Their goal was to restore the historic appearance of Mount Pleasant Plantation as much as possible, while providing modern amenities. Added to this were other important goals:
- Gather a Restoration Team of experts to establish and carry out a comprehensive Master Plan for all the future physical features of the estate and how they would interact.
- Restore the historic built-environment of the plantation, especially that closest to the house such as the detached Kitchen, Smokehouse, Kitchen Garden, fencing, paths and drives and terraced garden.
- Use the most-up-to date historic restoration strategies and techniques; preserve or carefully record original features and use compatible materials and craft techniques wherever possible.
- Provide discrete modern conveniences and systems, such as bathrooms, family recreation rooms, and maintenance areas, so they are invisible from the historic core of the house.
- Recreate selected features of plantation life, such as equine culture, heritage livestock breeding and farming practices that would capture the country house atmosphere.
- Respect and conserve the natural environment and use “green” building techniques and strategies as much as possible.
- Protect the decorative arts collections against light damage and temperature and humidity fluctuation.
- Develop education plans and otherwise share the restoration process, research and plantation with the public.
The Master Plan
A Master Plan was developed by Carlton Abbott and Douglass Mettler which addressed the physical layout of the 400 acre plantation so it would meet the restoration and other practical goals. And all other goals were balanced against protecting the historic resources both above and underground. This meant location of road systems, site preparation, selection of building sites, had to be carefully planned.
The historic restoration team was composed of experts in historic house restoration, decorative arts, engineering, landscaping, archaeology and the many crafts and specialties necessary to pull off the ambitious project. On the Team’s recommendation, the Schorschs decided to focus the restoration on John Hartwell Cocke II’s period of residence, from 1803-09, since the most plentiful historic, archaeological and existing architectural evidence survived from that time. The Team coordinated all work on the plantation and met or communicated weekly on all aspects of the work, with regular input from the Schorschs. On-site work was under the daily direction of the Project Coordinator, Thomas Gavin.