One must be fatigued with hearing the name Randolph mentioned in travelling in Virginia, (for it is one of the most ancient families in the country)…
Marquis de Chastellux, 1781
For more than 100 years, members of the illustrious Randolph family called Wilton home. Built circa 1753 for William Randolph III, Wilton was the centerpiece of a 2,000 acre plantation. It was here that the Randolphs entertained some of colonial Virginia’s most elite as well as travelers from up and down the Atlantic coast and abroad. Wilton played host to George Washington shortly after Patrick Henry delivered his famous ultimatum, “Give me Liberty, or Give me Death!” In 1781, then governor Thomas Jefferson visited Lafayette who was headquartered at Wilton, while 900 of the General’s troops setup camp in the fields in a campaign that would eventually end in victory at Yorktown.
After passing from one generation to the next between 1753 and 1859, Wilton was sold to Col. William C. Knight, to pay off a mounting family debt. The last Randolph owner, Catherine, married Edward Carrington Mayo and moved into neighboring Richmond. Wilton went on to survive the Civil War and change owners another 4 times before going into foreclosure by The Bank of Commerce and Trust during the depth of the Great Depression. In 1932, The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in the Commonwealth of Virginia voted to rescue this unique house from falling victim to the wrecking ball. Raising money without the assistance of outside funding, the Dames were able to purchase the house. However, the original Wilton property was re-zoned for industry, forcing them to dismantle the house, purchase the land on which Wilton sits today, and rebuilding it there. At the completion of the moving and rebuilding of this historic house, Wilton became the new headquarters for the Virginia Dames.
Today, Wilton continues to serve as an outstanding example of Georgian architecture, headquarters of the Virginia Dames, host to many visitors as well as the site of many public programs, educational exhibits, and endless opportunities for education and growth. To find out more about Wilton’s events and opportunities, visit our Events page.
The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in the Commonwealth of Virginia
The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America, founded in 1892, is an unincorporated association of 45 Corporate Societies with over 15,000 members. The Society headquarters is located at Dumbarton House, a federal period house museum in Washington, D.C. The NSCDA has been a leader in the field of historic preservation, restoration and interpretation of historic sites since its New York Society first undertook the preservation of the Van Cortlandt House in 1897.
In November 2000, the NSCDA received the prestigious Trustee Emeritus Award for Excellence in the Stewardship of historic sites from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Today, 41 diverse properties are owned outright by the Corporate Societies of the NSCDA, 13 additional museum collections are owned by the Dames and 30 more properties receive substantial volunteer and financial support from Dames.
In addition to its broad based activities in the museum field, the Society sponsors a number of scholarship programs and other historic preservation, patriotic service and educational projects to further the aims and objects of the Society.
Membership in the organization is by sponsorship only. Members must be lineal descendants of an ancestor who rendered significant service to his country during the colonial period before July 5, 1776. To learn more about the Virginia Dames and how to get involved, visit www.nscda-va.org.