Southwest Mountains Rural Historic District

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View of the Southwest Mountains Rural Historic District

The Southwest Mountains Rural Historic District is a historic district in northeastern Albemarle County, over 39,000 acres in size.

Southwest Mountains Rural Historic District Marker

Erected 2005 by Department of Historic Resources. (Marker Number GA-42.)[1]


Extending from the Orange County line on the north to the outskirts of Charlottesville with the Southwest Mountains forming its spine, this historic district encompasses more than 31,000 acres and contains some of the Piedmont’s most pristine and scenic countryside. Thomas Jefferson often traveled along the eastern side of the Southwest Mountains to Philadelphia and Washington, D. C. and referred to the mountains as the “Eden of the United States.” The district includes a broad range of 18th through early 20th century rural architecture, reflecting the evolving cultural patterns of more than 250 years of settlement. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.

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The district was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1992. The Southwest Mountains form the spine of the district, which extends from the Orange County line south towards Charlottesville encompassing state scenic roads Route 20 and Route 231. Protected by over 15,000 acres of conservation easements, the district is home to a wide collection of historically significant dwellings, such as:

  • Old Keswick (1736, 1818, 1832); Originally built as a hunting lodge for a nearby estate, it has been expanded several times to become the center piece for an 550 acre equestrian estate.
  • Castle Hill
  • Clover Fields (1848); Built on one of the original land grants in Albemarle County, it has been home to the Meriwether family for eleven generations. Explorer Meriwether Lewis's mother, Lucy Meriwether, was born here. His father, William Lewis, is buried in the family graveyard on the estate. The current house was completed in 1848.
  • Edgeworth (1837); One of the largest antebellum plantation houses in Albemarle County. It was built on the site of the Rev. James Maury parsonage, where Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and James Monroe received their early education.
  • Cobham Park
  • Castalia stone barn complex (1929); Tudor Revival style random rubble stone barn at the heart of the working farm.
  • East Belmont (1834); Built on the land farmed since the 1730s, the first house was built around 1811, with the current Federal style mansion built in 1834.
  • Keswick Hunt Club (1898); A late Eclectic Victorian hunt club remains the social center of the area for over one hundred years.
  • Grace Church (1896); Added to the National Register of Historic Places (1976)
  • The ruins of the A.J. Bell store; Representative of the abandoned commercial buildings throughout the area is the the A. J. Bell store, located in Cobham, next to the Chesapeake & Ohio rail line.

In addition to many historic agricultural structures, the district also contains several African American settlements. [2]

Prior to his arrest for the alleged murders of his mother and brother, John H. Salmon lived on the west side of the Southwest Mountain at his family farm.[3]


  1. Web. Southwest Mountains Rural Historic District, THE HISTORICAL MARKER DATABASE, February 1, 2023, retrieved April 9, 2023.
  2. Web. 002-1832 Southwest Mountains Rural Historic District, Virginia Department of Historic Resources, retrieved June 10, 2019.
  3. Web. Albemarle County in Virginia, C.J. Carrier Company, 1901