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Abram's Delight

abram's delight, abrams delight winchester
Abram's Delight is a historic home located in Winchester, Virginia Built in 1754, it is the oldest house in the city It was owned by the Hollingsworth family for almost 200 years and is typical of the Shenandoah Valley architecture of the Scotch-Irish settlers The property was added to the Virginia Landmarks Register VLR in 1972 and the National Register of Historic Places NRHP in 1973 Abram's Delight currently serves as a historic house museum


  • 1 History
  • 2 Architecture
  • 3 See also
  • 4 References
  • 5 External links


In 1728, Abraham Hollingsworth born 1686, grandson of Valentine Hollingsworth, a Quaker immigrant from Ireland, arrived in the Shenandoah Valley and settled in present-day Winchester He received a land grant of 582 acres 236 ha around 1732 from Alexander Ross and Morgan Bryan, though he had to later renegotiate the grant with Lord Fairfax, who owned all the land between the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers[3][4][5] Some historians believe Hollingsworth was also required to pay local Shawnee members a cow, a calf, and a piece of red cloth for the land Hollingsworth, considered the founder of Winchester, described his land a "delight to behold"[3][6] He built a log cabin next to a natural spring and just west of where the current house is located Although the cabin no longer stands, the cabin's hand-dug well is still visible Historians believe a wooden stockade once surrounded his home and that he began construction of the present house before his death in 1748 His widow, Ann Robinson born around 1690, inherited the property but died the following year Their second son, Isaac 1722–1759, a Quaker minister, inherited the property and made plans for a house that could also serve as a Quaker meeting place Simon Taylor was chosen to build the home He had recently completed construction of Springdale for Colonel John Hite, now the oldest house in Frederick County, and the two homes share similar stonework Quakers held meetings in the Hollingsworth house with men sitting in the parlor and women in the dining room[4][5]

Isaac's son, Jonah Hollingsworth 1755–1801, later inherited the property He and his wife, Hannah 1755–1836, had thirteen children and needed more living space Around 1800, they added a west wing to the house and used stone closely resembling that of the original portion In 1830, one of their sons, David 1789–1859, a wealthy businessman and community leader, took possession of the home He made many improvements to the house and surrounding land, most notably the construction of a lake on the south side of the property He built a summer house on one of the islands in the lake David's three children inherited the property in 1863, two years after the Civil War began During the war, many properties in Winchester and the surrounding area suffered, including the Hollingsworth home[4][5] Most of the property's trees were felled, the livestock was taken, and the farmland was left untended[7] The three children, none of whom ever married, continued living in the house until the youngest, Annie 1844–1930, was the last one remaining In the 1910s, Annie made arrangements with two cousins that they could take ownership of the house if they would care for her in her old age She moved out of the home, taking only her clothing, and the building sat unoccupied for almost thirty years[4][5][6]

In 1943, the city of Winchester purchased the home and surrounding 35 acres 14 ha The city wanted to preserve the oldest house in Winchester and to take advantage of the water supply[4][5] The remaining belongings in the home, including many antiques dating from the 17th century and paintings by Annie's older sister, Mary, were sold at auction in 1945[6][8] The Winchester-Frederick County Historical Society worked for nine years on restoration of the house with Irvan O'Connell overseeing the overall project and Mary Boxley overseeing the interior work In 1961, the house was opened as a museum A log cabin, built in 1780 and similar to the one built by Abraham, was moved to the property in 1967 Abram's Delight was added to the VLR on November 9, 1972, and the NRHP on April 11, 1973[2][4][5] The property, which is reportedly haunted by several ghosts, is available for tours each day from April–October[6][7][9] During the Christmas season, Abram's Delight is available for tours during the annual Candlelight Tour and Open House[10] In addition to the house and log cabin, there is a small perennial garden and old gristmill that now serves as a gift shop and exhibit space[3]


Abram's Delight is considered an "excellent example of a substantial eighteenth century Valley farmhouse" and the central hall two-over-two plan is a classic example of the early settlers' architecture[5] The exterior of the house is made of random rubble limestone and rests on a stone foundation Slate covers the pitched roof The original portion is three bays wide and measures 39 feet 12 m The wing added in 1800 is also three bays wide and measures 20 feet 61 m long Both sections of the home are two-stories, though the wing is not as tall in deference to the original portion There are three interior-end chimneys, one on the end of the wing and one on each end of the original portion There are five doorways, two on the north side, two on the south side, and one on the east side[5]

See also

  • List of museums in Virginia
  • National Register of Historic Places listings in Winchester, Virginia


  1. ^ "National Register Information System" National Register of Historic Places National Park Service July 9, 2010mw-parser-output citecitationmw-parser-output citation qmw-parser-output id-lock-free a,mw-parser-output citation cs1-lock-free amw-parser-output id-lock-limited a,mw-parser-output id-lock-registration a,mw-parser-output citation cs1-lock-limited a,mw-parser-output citation cs1-lock-registration amw-parser-output id-lock-subscription a,mw-parser-output citation cs1-lock-subscription amw-parser-output cs1-subscription,mw-parser-output cs1-registrationmw-parser-output cs1-subscription span,mw-parser-output cs1-registration spanmw-parser-output cs1-ws-icon amw-parser-output codecs1-codemw-parser-output cs1-hidden-errormw-parser-output cs1-visible-errormw-parser-output cs1-maintmw-parser-output cs1-subscription,mw-parser-output cs1-registration,mw-parser-output cs1-formatmw-parser-output cs1-kern-left,mw-parser-output cs1-kern-wl-leftmw-parser-output cs1-kern-right,mw-parser-output cs1-kern-wl-right
  2. ^ a b The Virginia Landmarks Register Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press 1999 p 549 ISBN 9780813918624
  3. ^ a b c Blackley, Pat and Chuck 2009 Virginia's Historic Homes and Gardens Minneapolis: Voyageur Press pp 110–111 ISBN 9781616731199
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Abram's Delight" Winchester-Frederick County Historical Society Archived from the original on December 11, 2014 Retrieved December 17, 2014
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission Staff September 1972 "National Register of Historic Places Inventory - Nomination Form" PDF Virginia Department of Historic Resources Retrieved December 17, 2014
  6. ^ a b c d Shufelt, Gail August 11, 1996 "Homes, ghost stories part of Winchester history" The Daily Gazette Retrieved December 17, 2014
  7. ^ a b Taylor, L B 2010 The Big Book of Virginia Ghost Stories Mechanicsburg: Stackpole Books pp 75–78 ISBN 9780811705837
  8. ^ "Rare and Beautiful: Antiques at Auction" Farmers Advocate April 20, 1945 Retrieved December 17, 2014
  9. ^ "Abram's Delight" National Park Service Retrieved December 17, 2014
  10. ^ Nielsen, Stephen December 5, 2014 "Historic buildings light up for holiday tours" The Winchester Star Archived from the original on December 14, 2014 Retrieved December 17, 2014

External links

  • Abram's Delight - Wnchester-Frederick County Historical Society

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